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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Free Diving for Lobsters...

I saw something which I thought to be somewhat unusual while tied off to a mooring ball in Dinner Key Harbor the other day.

It was mid morning when a small power boat could be seen sporting a dive flag while slowly trailing a line with a free diver hanging on to the bitter end. The diver was equipped with all but the tanks and was evidently searching for what must have been lobster.

Not surprisingly, the boat along with the diver were soon venturing off elsewhere in search of whatever they were hoping to spear.

As far as I can remember, lobsters prefer rocky crevices and places to hide. The relatively shallow and grassy bottom of Dinner Key Harbor would seem to me to make it an unlikely spot to find a random lobster.

All of which had me thinking back to when I too use to go in search of lobster while previously cruising throughout the Exumas aboard S/V BratCat.

Free diving throughout the pristine waters in the Bahamas was most certainly an exhilarating experience. It was always a joy to load up the dinghy with my snorkeling gear along with a bucket and head on out to the reefs.

The lobster's feelers could often times be readily be seen extending out from underneath the rocky ledges in the crystal clear waters. With experience I could later readily identify the places lobsters were most likely to be hiding.

From depths of up to thirty or so feet, I would purposely hyper-ventilate and then slowly dive while periodically equalizing the pressure exerted on my ear drums. Once down below, I'd exert some tension on the sling, aim and then release.

Surfacing involved the same discipline... slow and easy while constantly doing a 360 degree corkscrew while keeping an eye out for any predators that might be interested in coming after the speared and bleeding lobster at the end of my Hawaiian sling.

Setting Sail and Key West Bound... Day One...

Living aboard a boat by oneself can most certainly become somewhat monotonous after a while and can be especially true if one happens to stay in any one place for too long.

It's simply just too easy to grab a mooring ball or drop an anchor somewhere in the confines of an anchorage and simply not venture off anywhere for weeks on end.

And while Coconut Grove and all its upscale business establishments is conveniently located within walking distance of Dinner Key Harbor, it is nevertheless but another busy tourist destination in Miami.

The monotony of it all can set in after awhile and have one yearning for a change of scenery if nothing else. Consequently I finally resolved to heed a bit of advise posted on a Cruiser's Forum message board and set sail for a new destination.

It felt good to unleash Blondie-Dog from her mooring and sail on out away from Dinner Key Harbor. The feeling was most liberating and it felt good to be finally sailing in earnest again.

Light winds made for little initial progress but once the winds picked up, S/V Blondie-Dog was swiftly gliding over the pristine blue waters of Biscayne Bay.

I had initially intended to anchor off of Elliott Key for the evening but elected to continue my swift sail and drop a hook off the entrance to Jewfish Creek. I'd negotiate that narrow channel in daylight the next morning.

All in all it was ten hours of blissful sailing... well at least the last eight of them anyway. The only downside to day one was while at anchor that evening. Blondie-Dog was anchored downwind of mosquito infested mangroves and it goes without saying that I involuntarily donated a pint of blood.

My first clue that those mangroves were infested with mosquitoes should have been while under sail. A helicopter could repeatedly be seen swooping down upon the mangroves as if it were on a combat mission in a jungle somewhere. That chopper might have been spraying DDT or Agent Orange for all I know.

A recently purchased mosquito netting did nevertheless help keep some of the mosquitoes away. The No-See Ums were however another matter and had no problem finding their way in through the mosquito netting mesh.

I'd also like to think that the mosquito repelling coils that I had burning in the cabin had some effect in chasing the No-See Ums away but all it seemed to do was to scent up the boat's cabin as if it were an early Seventies head-shop.

All in all, day one was a most enjoyable day of sailing.