On Friday afternoon, I got a call to rent kayaks from some folks who had been skunked bridge fishing.
I was just heading out to my most secluded spot far up in the mangroves as the wind and tide were perfect. So, I shared my hot spot with them. They caught a bucket of fish and had a great time negotiating through the mangrove tunnels.
This particular tunnel is inaccessible during high tide. Most are not this narrow. But, there are plenty of fish waiting to get caught.
That 3.5 hp Nissan [Tohatsu] is a long shaft outboard that I found south of Jacksonville for 200 bucks. With a new carb and a fresh impeller (less than 100 bucks) she is a fine runner.
Note the DIY handle of the tiller extension: It is easy to grab behind my back to steer. On straight hauls, I rest my back upon it and steer with the paddle. Good vibrations…
The pics are from the stern of the boat. As the tide pulls me thru the narrow cuts, the main resistance, the OB lower unit, wants to move forward. This gives me better control and helps clear the mangrove spider webs ahead.
Also, I built a combo 3 rod holder, Go-Pro, fish de-hooker, bait knife, and line clipper holder that fits in a single support hole of the W700 and Series 4 vessels. When I get the French fry holder mounted, I’ll post a pic.
Today’s catch before filleting
This trip produced Mangrove Snappers, Caesar Grunts, and Bermuda Chubs. We ate the snappers and grunts for lunch. The chubs will be smoked to make fish dip.
Nature Coast Kayak Fishers My kayak angler group ran into a morning of dense fog at Ozello 2 days ago. Art Myjak, who is still recovering from a stroke he had 2 years ago, was good to go in his Wavewalk 500. He is still a bit unsteady and don’t think he would do real well in a more traditional yak. Fortunately, I asked the new guys in our club to bring a VHF radio with them so we could maintain contact. They were invaluable in the fog.
This is the story of my trip across Buzzards Bay, to the Elizabeth Islands, a chain of small islands between Martha’s Vineyard and the mainland.
Before the actual trip…
My first trip was ‘preliminary’ to the actual one, because it was cut short due to time constraints – I arrived to the boat ramp in Gooseberry island at the Horseneck Beach Reservation, found the parking lot full, and headed back on the causeway. I parked a quarter of a mile down the road, next to a rocky beach, a.k.a. a ‘Rock Garden’. It was early in the afternoon, and by the time I launched, filled the gas tank, and tested the boat (and myself), I realized that since I’m a novice seaman, I’d have to drive slowly, namely at less than 5 mph, which would have made the trip longer than I had planned. That meant that I might have gotten back home too late, which is a no-no.
What’s left from that preliminary, or shall we call it ‘Test’ trip are the panoramic view of the parking lot and the beach, and the still images from the end of the trip, where I’m seen dragging the boat on the beach, and up the ramp, back to the parking lot. Joao, a local resident, shot these nice photos – Thanks Joao! 🙂
The actual trip
I came back the next day to the same parking lot, before noon. I wore blue shorts and and a blue shirt that’s identical to the one I wore the previous day – It’s called ‘Movie Continuity’ 😀 Speaking of continuity, the weather was identical in both days – sunny and beautiful. That wasn’t due just to luck, since I had planned this trip a week in advance.
Launching in that rock garden was a piece of cake. To start the motor, I dropped the anchor about 100 yards from shore, turned around in the cockpit so I faced the motor, added fuel to the gas tank (I did it standing up, using a long spout), and I started the motor in full comfort, like I would on a big boat. I turned around, which is easy to do in the W700, raised the anchor, grabbed the joystick, pushed in the choke, put the motor in forward gear, set the RPM, and headed to the islands. I drove at a leisurely pace, giving myself time to enjoy the ride and shoot video.
I had two cameras on board – a Sony 400 with a telescopic x63 optical zoom lens, and a Sony Xperia watertight smartphone with a 4K Ultra-HD camera, mounted on a selfie stick. I used both cameras, and it turned out that the 400 performed well, while the Xperia didn’t produce good results, mainly because I failed to operate it properly 🙁
Massachusetts South Shore, Buzzards Bay, and the Elizabeth Islands.
At about 6 miles from shore, Penikese island was closer, but I decided to go a little further, and land on Cuttyhunk island, which is 7 miles from where I launched. It just looked better the trough the telescopic lens of my camera…
I approached Cuttyhunk island, scouted for a good landing spot, and beached without a problem. I didn’t even have to step in water 🙂
As I was making my first steps on that beautiful beach, enjoying the pristine nature and solitude, my cellphone rang… It was my mother in-law, who was concerned about me 😀 That conversation added a comic touch to the situation…
I refilled the gas tank, and checked how much water got into the boat. I had a towel tucked in each rear hull tip, and both towels were almost dry, which is to say that hardly any spray got in. This is due to fact that I drove slowly and didn’t give the waves a chance to splash into the cockpit.
The first half of the trip back to the mainland was a not that pleasant – The wind had picked up, and the boat was getting hit by waves from 7 o’clock, which made it harder to drive. The joystick offered me the perfect means to drive responsively and with precision, as I needed to, given that the W700 is such a small boat. Comfort wise, it was perfect. Under these conditions, driving while facing sideways and gripping the tiller directly would have been hard, and even driving while facing forward with an articulated (U-jointed) tiller extension would have been somehow uncomfortable.
The motor didn’t sound like it appreciated the continuous abrupt alternations between acceleration and deceleration, as each passing wave projected the boat forward and then dumped it behind… It turned out that this 6 HP Tohatsu motor isn’t just quiet and easy to operate – it’s also reliable.
The second part of the trip back was easier. As I approached the shore and recognized the area from which I had launched, I allowed myself to drive faster, and even standing up, which felt great. Spray getting into the boat was no longer a matter for any concern as this stage, of course.
Beaching in the rock garden was a piece of cake, but I have to admit that due to the shallowness of the water I wasn’t able to drive the boat high enough to step on dry land, this time.
Dragging the boat up the beach and back to the car wasn’t easy… After a few steps I stopped, and I used a little manual pump that I had with me to get water out of the hulls. I also took the towels out and squeezed water out of them. Altogether, I removed a couple of gallons of water from the boat, which made it easier to pull it up to the parking lot.
Other than getting my face and knees sunburned, I feel no physical impact whatsoever. No muscle tension in my legs, not even the slightest sign of back pain, and no pain in my left wrist and forearm, which could have happened had I used the articulated tiller extension in such a long drive.
The 6 HP Tohatsu outboard features an alternator, which means that it could feed the battery powering a small electric bilge bump, and thus turn spray into a non-issue. Some smaller Tohatsu outboards feature an alternator as well. Anyways, a long manual bilge pump such as many kayakers use would do equally well, I guess.
The kayak was beyond all expectations! On the very first time we used it to get to our camp site, loaded with all the gear we got into a strong rain storm with wind, so strong, that it was difficult to see on a mile paddle. Not for a moment I had any doubt in the fact the kayak just doesn’t care. It was easy to handle, incredibly stable and just a pleasure to operate. We actually loaded it on top, front and back, and between us – it was still stable. I did have some trouble to get out when the gear was around. But this is a fishing boat, not a camping canoe, maybe I am asking too much. I think for the next trip we will make some kind of harness to attach to the front and back, and load our most light dry bags on top connected with harness for security. That will free leg space. We do not have that many pictures though – just two worth to show – one right before the rain and one on our way back – beautiful Vermont summer day!
Before the rain storm – Wavewalk 700 Tandem kayak loaded with camping gear, Vermont
On the way back – Wavewalk 700 Tandem kayak loaded with camping gear, Vermont