|It is no fluke to catch fluke from an ocean going performance boat!|
Determined that the unidentified fish we were catching before in Great South Bay were Kingfish. Apparently quite edible, but we let them swim away.
Caught fluke after fluke just west of the Robert Moses Bridge in Fire Island Inlet. They ranged in size to eighteen inches, and the keepers were 15.5 inches +. Used ultralight Shakespere spinning rods with a dual hook rig attached to eight ounce sinkers. Baited the hooks with frozen spearing and squid strips.
No luck fly fishing from the beaches yet, but have seen many bluefish or stripers chasing bait just off the beaches on Fire Island. It is only a matter of time.
Survived a nasty storm at sea too. We left the marina on a Saturday around 5:30 PM and hoped to make Watch Hill marina by 7PM. The trip out through Long Island’s Nicoli Bay was fine then conditions rapidly deteriorated in Great South Bay nearer our destination. Have you seen Perfect Storm?
The early part of that storm looked just like what we encountered. Waves four to five feet high with the tops blown off them by the wind into long white streamers. The entire ocean was whipped foam streamers, blowing straight into our boat. The Sonic starts to plane at 3000 RPM and 40 MPH so that is the minimum preferred speed to travel. We get excellent fuel economy there also. In the horrid conditions I traveled at about 12 MPH and our boat pounded into the seas, sending sheets of spray into our faces. I sent the wife below for safety and to minimize the number of choice phrases hurled my way.
Then I found by increasing speed, the boat jumped on top of the waves, happy to plane as per usual, no matter what the sea conditions. Faster speed meant less hull in the water and less foam in my face, so finally I was doing about 60 MPH. We ripped across the tops of the waves, with the wind whipped foam even with the gunnel instead of our faces. A very odd and exhilarating feeling, smoothing screaming over awful sea conditions, like slicing a vast expanse of whipped cream. I have never had the boat that fast before, running the engines at 3,800 to 4,000 RPM while they are rated for 4,800 RPM. It just wanted to go faster. Now comfortable with the boat in those conditions, I saw what looked like a commercial fishing vessel foundering in the seas, so I blasted in for a closer look, more plane than boat.
The fifty foot commercial boat was traveling at about five knots, plowing through the seas with the waves breaking right over top of him. Sometimes the seas knocked him sideways. He looked ok though, so I jetted away towards our destination ,smoothly flying on top and above the same seas that were causing him so much distress. I’ll not forget that experience for a lifetime. Although the boat handled beautifully, I had to be very careful to keep the wheel straight while flying through the air as an off wave landing with the wheel turned slightly to one side or the other could have flipped the boat I suppose.
Needless to say I am even more impressed with the Sonic. In Florida we chartered a 35 Sonic in small craft warning conditions and that one traveled 65 MPH in a 3 foot chop, but no blowing foam to make it look even more scary. Sonic has a very sharp 23 degree deep V hull to better slice through heavy seas that other boats cannot. The Florida captain has been through twenty foot seas in his Sonic, coming back from the Bahamas. You need a total canvas enclosure with heavy plastic windows all around for that though. Power up the approaching slope of the huge wave and slow down on the downward surf. I would like to get complete enclosure canvas/windows for the boat too, perhaps next year.
Our Saturday adventure was not over. I hit my Watch Hill compass bearing and buoys dead on, but could not see a marina, just two bright lights on shore. I did not want to fool around, since the charts showed Watch Hill has super shallow one to two foot depths right next to the channel buoys for a great distance. Now I was worried, at sea in a storm, day tuning into night with no marina where there should have been one. Watch Hill stops monitoring the radio at 6 PM and I did not want to call the Coast Guard for directions given the shallow depths there. One wrong compass heading and we’d be grounded in a storm. I turned the boat around and raced back along Fire Island towards Davis Park and found it just fine. Trouble was, the marina was full! We had to spend the night at anchor in the storm off Davis Park as I was not going to run back across Great South Bay to Oakdale. Now the problem was how to anchor. No way was I going to crawl along the forward deck in the two foot chop close to shore.
First I tied a rope to the easily accessible mid cleat and heaved the main danforth anchor over from the safety of the cockpit. Then with the wife standing by that cleat, I opened the front hatch and secure within it, used a boat hook to reach the forward cleat and make fast the anchor rode. Once that rope was secured, I had Jane release the midcleat and the boat swung bow into the wind. Then I tossed a smaller mushroom anchor over for extra security and set the fish finder for high and low depth alarms either side of the anchored depth to wake me if we drifted during the night. Well around 9 PM the wind died and waves were down to about a foot and other boats began to anchor around me. Ha! More people who could not get a marina berth.
Around 10PM there was an explosion. When I went out into the cockpit to see what was going on, I saw....Fireworks! An amazing fireworks display directly ahead of the boat. The wife and I were treated to the most unique half hour fireworks displays we have ever had! We joined the cacophony of other boats blasting our boat horns in appreciation at the end. Then the armada of boats around us left for home ports. Duh, I guess they were just there for the fireworks.
Winds picked up again later in the night, shrieking past the boat. The depth alarm was often triggered by the heavy seas rocking the boat wildly up and down. I did not want to risk drifting so decided I would just stay up all night and stick my head up to look out the hatches whenever the alarm went off. In the morning seas were calm but we lost the small mushroom anchor during the night. I am amazed the wife slept through the heavy seas and alarms, but was grateful for the chance to hit the v berth myself while she entertained herself in the cockpit with a novel in the morning. When I woke up we cruised back to Watch Hill and found out the bright lights were range markers, a guide to the marina hidden behind the thirty foot high sand dunes. Now I know for the future to head for the bright lights. You line the lights up like a fighter plane approaching a carrier to get the angle of approach right.
The dock master at Watch Hill told us the fireworks were to commemorate the anniversary of a restaurant that was at Davis Park. A lucky break after all as we would not have seen the fireworks at Watch Hill. On Friday, Watch Hill told me I would not have a problem getting a berth and they were right….only about 18 boats in a 188 berth marina. Most folks scared off by the rainy weather forecast. We had a great time at Watch Hill. Enjoyed a 1.5 hour nature walk with the ranger and one other person and as well as the spectacular seven miles of wilderness sand dunes and barrier island stretching north from there. Caught no fish from the beaches, but did see bait being herded by bluefish or striped bass in the salt marsh there. When the water clears later in the year I will return!
In the photo gallery section is a photo taken at anchor at Sailor’s Haven (another full marina!), harbor for the amazing Sunken Forest on Fire Island. Yeah I know, I chipped the paint on the trim and drive panel. Yet another winter project to do! Fire Island is rated as one of the top beach areas in the world for naturalists to visit, as it is the only large barrier island on the entire east coast without a paved road down the middle. Just hiking and bike paths with several wilderness areas such as the Sunken Forest. So named because when you are in the forest surrounded by thirty foot high sand dunes and the sounds of crashing surf, it really does feel like you are below sea level. Saw lots of wildlife there and never knew about the Forest until recently. It is a neat place to visit.
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