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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Billfish tournament
Thick cloud cover, cool 60*
02/06/2009, Ft Lauderdale, Fl

Friday, February 06, 2009

Well we were going to take off today for Miami after our morning showers, but after going up top and feeling the wind chill, neither of us wanted to stand out at the helm - especially after seeing a thick cloud bank coming in off the eastern seaboard. So, we decided to stay put. I'm not sure what it would be like; going into Miami during the weekend, with cruise ships and weekenders, so we may be here for the weekend. We'll see how weather and conditions go... We noticed that whenever we seem to travel on the ICW, during the weekends, it tends to be a bit congested with the weekend fishermen. This weekend, with the 44th annual Billfish Tournament going on, it as all the makings of a busy trip between here and Miami - So... we'll see - but for today - Ft. Lauderdale is home again.

By the way - billfish include sailfish, spearfish, marlin, and swordfish (there are differences). Their large, beautiful bodies are built for endurance and speed, which are needed to travel thousands of miles through the ocean in search of food. Because they're so sought after by sportsmen, as well as a food source in other countries, the populations have dwindled over the years. I'd love to see some in their natural environment and hope someday that I will. Learning about the tournaments that go on up and down the eastern seaboard, gives me hope that I might! I chatted with one of the guys in the marina about the tournament (headquartered here at the Las Olas Marina) and it sounds like they catch them (using those O hooks Diana told me about during Christmas instead of J hooks), tag them, weigh them, and then let them go - they no longer bring the fish into the marina. I find this a much better practice than the days of yore - where they had to bring them in and bodily weigh them, etc... Since they were needed as proof of the fisherman's prowess, caught fish were never returned alive. Some of these fish can take 5 - 10 years to reach maturity (for instance the Blue Marlin*) so - such practices were devastating to the billfish populations. Now, when one is caught, the process must be recorded to a DVD - including the release of the billfish safely back to the water. If its not recorded, or the fish is damaged/killed, no points are issued to the sportsman. Since there's big bucks involved with the tournament (prizes up to $300,000 for the whole series), it's in their best interest to return the fish unharmed. All billfish caught during the tournament must be returned to the ocean or the boat is disqualified. Since they also pay a hefty fee to enter ($1750), most are serious about returning the fish from whence they caught them.

*Billfish are found in all of the world's major oceans. Blue Marlin is one of the largest billfish species. They've been known to reach sizes of 1700 pounds - with the larger individuals (those over 350 pounds) most likely to be female. The Atlantic blue marlin grows rapidly during the first two years life but it typically takes 30 years for one to reach 1,000 pounds. These billfish can make incredibly long journeys through the seas - the record being 9,254 miles from the state of Delaware to Mauritius (an island off the southeast coast of Africa) in the Indian Ocean. Taken from: for more info on the various species - click on the link provided.

02/07/2009 | Wendell
Freezing temps down this far south are GENERALLY not seen. However since you decided to come down here I guess we can all blame you!!!
I still think you've got a book in this adventure.
02/07/2009 | Pat Aben
mm hmmm... It's those Aben's - things just follow them from place to place Just ask Laura LOL
Haapppy Birthday Bill
Windchill in the 20s for us and -20s back home
02/05/2009, Ft Lauderdale, FL

It's days like this that I look at all the boats, with cockpit enclosures, and wish I had the gumption to make one for Kolibrie. I didn't want to get out from the covers in the worst way this morning, but get up I did. I put on the coffee, started the sweet rolls for breakfast, and then proceeded to de-package the beef, and beef broth, scramble the eggs, and chop up the green onions and beef for the fried rice I am going to make for dinner today. That way Wayne could dispose of the garbage when he went to take his morning shower.

I couldn't rouse Wayne from bed with the temptation of hot coffee this morning - all he'd say is where's the heat, where's the heat? I thought you were going to get up and turn on the heat. So I kicked on the switch to the heat, only it'd been so long since I'd last done that, I flipped the switch the wrong way (to vent) and wondered why, after 10 minutes, the air coming out wasn't warm. I then discovered the error and switched it the other way - but it wouldn't come on. I guess that's one way to get the Captain up. "The heat doesn't work!" He got up and turned the thermostat up a notch and that did the trick. Duhhhh... With temperatures in the 30s and wind chills in the 20s this morning, we both voted to stay another day, as opposed to standing up top and freezing our "everything" off to head for Miami. It's not like we're in a rush to get anywhere at this point (other than out of the cold streak that keeps following us down). Hey! I thought that these freezing temperatures didn't come down to S. Florida Wendell...

Well Bill - I see that it's colder where you are with wind chills 15-25 below zero so wish you were here on your birthday to take a walk on the beach. See those two empty beach chairs on Ft. Lauderdale's beach? One for you and one for Holly to sit and sip a pinacolada on your day... We hope it's a good one - stay warm (we'll try too), and Happy Birthday!

We took advantage of our extra day here to walk the beach again. It's really nice to see that they kept the beach area open and for public use. So many areas let people buy up the shoreline and fence it off so that only a very few people actually get to enjoy it (those that can afford to buy it). It's a very nice, clean area of sand and water with chaise lounges and umbrellas along the water. The sand stretches for miles and there are joggers and walkers that take advantage of the fresh air and salt water on one side of the road and other tourists that walk on the business side of the street visiting the tourist shops, shopping areas, restaurants and bars. The beach was pretty deserted today with only a few die-hards laying out, copping some sun. At a temperature that was a borderline 60*, it was too cold for the other 90% of the population.

Oh Hey Hannah! Just read our email and Congrats on your award! We have another budding artist in the family (upper 10% Wow)! Wish we could see the origami album - send us a pic!

Chicken stir-fry with beef fried rice for dinner and fresh fruit salad for later.

Cubans mmmm....
02/04/2009, Fort Lauderdale, FL

After making blueberry/raspberry muffins for breakfast we decided to catch the bus into town to buy some last minute groceries before heading off to Miami tomorrow. The trolley that drops you in front of the Publix doesn't run except on Thursdays to Sundays so we had to take the bus that stops about a ΒΌ of a mile from the mall. This means - I'm not buying a lot of heavy items... I love the Publix store here - it's in the middle of a large outdoor shopping mall that has Boater's World, Wine World and a host of other stores with a fountain in the middle of the parking lot. I definitely bought another Cuban sandwich and we had that for lunch once we got back to the boat. Mmmmmmm... I love a good sandwich and this one gets high marks on my sandwich meter!

They're setting up a large tented area in the parking lot of the marina for a Bill Fish tournament this weekend and it takes up most of the parking lot. I guess this marina has sponsored the tournament for several years so it should be quite busy here this weekend. Hopefully they'll have good weather for it - another cold front is moving into the area tonight and there are freeze warnings up all over the state (are you paying attention Wendell LOL? I can hear Laura laughing too). I watched them assemble part of the tent while doing laundry. They have an awesome laundry facility here with plenty of washers and driers and large folding tables. They actually have very nice and secure facilities here. You'd expect that though since they cater to the mega-yachts.

Steaks, salad and French bread for dinner along with some TV news and reading before bed. I have time for a computer game or two too LOL.

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