Everything you are about to read is true;
I Checked Everything
It was dusk and the evening was full of excitement as I prepared a packing list of items considered to be essential for a successful night expedition: flares, flashlight, food, etc. The plan was to run the engine of the twenty-four foot center console hard to make sure it would not overheat again. If things looked good then we would fish all day and transition to a night on the water shark fishing for the big one. After a quick refresher on my marlinspike, I was sweating profusely due to the near one-hundred percent humidity and desperately swatted at various insects intent on making me their evening meal.
Now undoubtedly tired and as filthy as a scurvy dog, I thought I had everything packed. After one final look around I went inside for a quick shower and went to bed looking forward to a night of fishing. I seem to recall dreaming of seaweed and the wrinkled fingers of a limey dead man’s hands whispered of in coastal legends. Early in the morning my deckhand Gator and I prepared to take the boat out on the ocean for the first time since the latest upgrades were installed. Navigating through a fog so thick you could taste the salt in the air we plotted a path seaward eight nautical miles for the breakers at the mouth of the bay near Neptune’s Reef.
Engine Problem Number One
About half way out the motor did not want to run properly so we took it easy by cruising at idle speed and simply getting a feel for the bow angle as seagulls kept a watchful eye behind us. The chop started to pick up going into the bay and the fore deck handled it better than our aft side did. However, now feeling confident I jammed the throttle lever forward putting us on plane for the last mile of whitecaps. By then the chop was five to six feet high and the vessel ran solid so I used the trim tabs for control. The keel was firm and true, in so much as a silver trident piercing the oceans epidermis like a aquatic scalpel.
The three hundred horse power marine power plant; a modified Ford 351 cubic inch block, was a tired old salt but would still run at wide open. That’s when we noticed the fuel flowing up and bubbling out of the bowl. Quickly I eased a bit to idle and drifted with the current before easing back up to 1200 revolutions per minute (RPM). At the point of reaching 1000 revolutions the carburetor drowned out; now fully flooded with fuel and gasping for oxygen. By then we had crossed the sand bar to the breakers, so we fished the area a couple hours for Whiting and whatever odd fish would bite.
Black Clouds, Dead End River
Out of live shrimp and no decent fish: we coerced the starter into cranking again and as the vessel roared to life we turned inland because there was a very dark storm front approaching from the west. Not only could we see the storm: we could also smell the rain and sense the static charge in the atmosphere. Having mistakenly turned into a wrong feeder creek, the inboard died again without fair warning. Consequentially, we dropped anchor and began fishing for another two hours. By now we had removed the jerry-rigged wire off the throttle link which I think was causing the bowl to stick wide open. Ironically, it cranked up again and we continued up the shellfish infested creek hoping to come out on the main river: we could see a sailing yachts main mast above the grass. As a matter of course; it did not open to the river, as we were mockingly assured by the laughing marsh hens.
After becoming concerned I pulled a three point turn and proceeded down river in a hurry. The boat responded strongly in such a small channel and the draft behind the watercraft was at least four to five feet deep. Causing it to seem as though the intake on the outboard was sucking air on turns: Due to the shallow draft behind the transom. Could the prop be getting exposed as well? Expecting to rip a gaping hole through the hull on the first available oyster bar I cautiously maneuvered through the narrows hoping to avoid Davy Jones. I had almost wondered out loud, “Will we sink her right here and now?” In utter defiance, the big boat was eating this green water alive and Gator was visibly nervous as the daylight quickly faded to night.
Sea Tow Hunts a Dead Boat at Night
Miraculously, the V8 stayed lit long enough to get us back to the main channel some four-hundred meters north of Skull Island. After about a mile we approached an anchored shrimping schooner to the starboard side. It was now almost dark so I backed off to idle and turned on the navigation lights. After a few high fives in honor of still being alive, as opposed to stiffened crab bait, I throttled back up to 1100 RPM. You could have guessed it beforehand, we were dead in the water again. It was now going on fourteen hours at sea and we decided to get Sea Tow involved so we hailed them on the radio mic. Gator had a membership from three years ago which would now come in very handy since the boat batteries were dead and our cell phones were dying. After guiding the rescue ship through the tropical night air and crackling static of the marine radio; we got the craft running again with a jump-start from Captain John, the local Sea Tow captain.
We thankfully made for home with the Sea Tow vessel alongside as the storm finally found us. After another 4 miles we arrived at the dock and boat ramp. Just then night sky opened up to a pitch black and monsoon like downpour. Somewhere in the dark water sticking to a barnacle encrusted piling a pair of strange eyes watched as we proceeded loading the five-thousand pound sea beast on it’s seaweed draped cradle, I had looked down at my wrinkled fingers and thought, “This voyage was of mythos”. Although the big fish got away, without a single regret the fishing adventure was outstanding and worth every long minute. However, after all that we went though to go fishing, planning ahead may be a little different the next time. Including fresh batteries: When the battery gets low, we recharge it; Savvy?