Friday, February 24, 2012

Nelly Chronicles – Part 15

“The Old One Returns”
Narrated by “Daubie” Jim Daubenberger in the voice of Nelly the cat

Well folks it appears the rumors were true, the Old One has returned.  Just one week after my fun uncle Hans left, the Old One showed up at our doorstep again.  He was coughing and wheezing and all pale, like death warmed over.  He brought Mom and Dad all kinds of presents and they oohed and aahed over him and fed him some of their nasty fish, but he didn’t bring me anything.

I pouted about that for a couple of days, but he just keeps being nice to me.  So the other night, I was a little bit lonely and couldn’t sleep anyway, when he came out on deck, I let him pet me a ½ dozen times without snapping at him once.  Then we played the dodger game for awhile and it was fun…I was even a little disappointed when he went back to bed.  The next morning before anyone was up I discovered to my dismay that my food dish was empty.  I heard the Old One stirring so I went part way into his room and when I got his attention I went back out and stood by my food bowl.  He is so dense.  I did it about six times and he never got it.  Then Mom got up and fed me and he figured out the system.  Since then he’s been giving me my rations when he notices my bowl is empty.  Perhaps I can train him.

We went on another one of those long passages the other day and my people caught three fish.  One was a real monster, but I’ll let dad tell about that cause he was so excited about it.  To you my loyal fan base that don’t usually waste your time on the people stories, let me recommend Monsters of the Sea and check the fish pictures cause Dad and Mom are really worked up over this fish stuff.  It’s about all they can talk about anymore.  

Till next time, this is Nelly, chief feline on board the “Tanqueray”, signing off.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Monsters of the Deep – A Fishing Tale Continues

By, Mike Daubenberger

Our fishing tale continues as we travel south from Nassau through the Exumas, the Jumentos, to Conception Island, Rum Cay, Long Island, and Crooked Island.  I set out on this trip with a goal to dine on as many lionfish as possible and to cook each recipe out of our ships bible, the lionfish cookbook.  The lionfish is one of the most popular and dangerous tropical reef fish seen in aquariums and out on the reef.  They are non-native to the Caribbean and have been reeking havoc on the reef systems since they were inadvertently introduced in the 1990’s.
Mike with Lionfish at Allan's Cay
Our quest to kill lionfish began at Allans Cay in the Exuma Island chain where we speared and consumed five fish.  When handling the fish you must be always vigilant as the lionfish are part of the scorpion fish family and are one of the most poisonous fish in the sea.  They have 13 venomous spines on their back, two pectoral spines, and three anal spines, all of which are cut off with scissors and set aside prior to filleting.  The fish lived up to their billing and were delicious!  The spines were baked and used as toothpicks.
Sara filleting a grouper
Grouper underwater
Our trip down the Exumas and the Jumentos was marked by a shift in fishing methodologies.  Our trolling lures were traded out for spears and our search shifted from pelagic fish to reef fish, lobsters, and conch.  In the Exumas we feasted on grouper, lionfish, conch and lobster.
Hans with Hogfish from Jumentos
Sara with Mutton Snapper
As weather would dictate, we headed down to the Jumentos and Sara once again tossed the lines out in “Barracuda Country”.  My brother Hans and I grimaced as we thought of the prospect of removing our lures from the toothy mouth of a big Barracuda.  Fifteen minutes later we hear the shout of “Fish on” from Sara who is clutching the pole.  It’s a big one, a barracuda I’m sure.  Sara fights the fish until she’s tired out and passes the pole to Hans.  The fish pops to the surface.  Its not a Barracuda, its another Mutton Snapper, a big one 15 pounds at least.  The Jumentos are an uninhabited outpost for the Bahamian fisherman.  They are the Bahamas fishing grounds.  We came out of the Jumentos with a couple of big lobster, a huge lionfish, a hogsnapper, a couple dozen conch,  and 1-1/2 big Mutton Snapper.  Not bad for five days.  The second Mutton Snapper was caught as we trolled over the banks on our way back to Georgetown.  Sara again cast the lines off into Barracuda country and again she was rewarded with a Mutton Snapper what luck.  Unfortunately, a shark grabbed on while we were bringing the fish in and we had to fight him for dinner.  It was a draw.  We split the fish.   
Mike with half of Mutton Snapper, after shark took other half
Next up Long Island, the pelagic fishing begins anew.  We left Georgetown early in the morning with little breeze and little hope of catching any fish since a minimum speed of 5 knots is required for effective trolling.  By 9:00 am the breeze has picked up and we are scooting along at 6 knots!! At 10:00 I here the pole zing!  The engine is out of order, the autopilot is turned off, not a good time to be catching fish.  Sara’s at the helm and I grab the pole.  The bad pole.  We come up with a plan, I steer and hold the pole while Sara turns on the auto pilot.  As she disappears, I see a Mahi-Mahi behind us streaking across the water towards the other pole.  “Sara, your going to have another fish in 30 seconds!” I shout.  She arrives on the deck just as the fish arrives at the pole.  Sara reels in the first fish and trades me poles.  I gaff the fish as Sara works on the second one.  Two Mahi-Mahi, 34 and 36 inches.  We arrive at Long Island and go spear fishing with our friends Max and Laura.  I spear a little lobster Max spears a monster.  Time for dinner. 
Sara with one Mahi, other Mahi's
tail is sticking out of the cooler!
No fishing allowed at Conception Island so Rum Cay is our next stop.  We dive the coral heads.  Staghorn coral raises 15 feet from the sea floor.  It is an amazing playground for diving.  We come away with one large lobster and some great pictures not bad for Sara’s birthday dinner.  Lobster pizza!  

Lobster catch
Lobster pizza
Rum Cay to Clarence Town Long Island, a nasty day on the sea with 25 knot winds on the nose.  We are traveling 7 knots and shouldn’t be fishing but how can you resist.  The fish strikes, it’s a big one.  We leave the pole in the pole holder and shorten sail.  I grab the pole and start working her in.  It’s a 42 inch Mahi-Mahi.  The sea is like a washing machine with waves coming from all directions.  We get it in and up on the boat no small feat in this weather.  This fish will be cleaned at anchor. 
Mahi caught on Rum Cay to Clarence Town crossing
Clarence Town to Little Harbor, long island.  A short trip, 10 miles.  Three quarters of the way down the fish strikes.  Sara grabs the pole and reels her in.  It’s a Cero, related to a sierra mackerel and delicious. 
Sara with Cero
Long Island to Crooked Island.  We are now in the land of big fish where you need to have the right gear to land them and you need to get them in quick before they end up in a sharks belly.  This is what the captains on the multi-million dollar sport fishers say.  You need thousand dollar reels and matching poles with 80 lb test line.  We will try our luck with our old Salmon poles and reels with 30 lb test.  Not far out of the harbor, the first fish strikes and Daubie grabs the pole.  I announce fish on to our friends on the VHF.  It went deep, must be a tuna.  Daubie fights it and gets it close, it looks like a wahoo, great eating.  When we get it up to the boat we realize the truth it’s a Barracuda, bummer.  I hoist all 40 inches out with the gaff and Daubie pulls the hook.  30 minutes later the reel cries out again it’s a big one and on the bad pole.  I grab the pole and Dad takes the helm.  We stop the boat and I try to work the beast.  Little progress.  There is much speculation on the type of fish, a wahoo, a tuna, it could be anything.  20 minutes into the fight, the fish breaks the surface, it’s a billfish of some sort.  Sara dives below for the video camera.  The fish jumps 7 more times clear out of the water before we get it close to the boat.  It’s buried 20 feet below us and it looks like a whale.  Again the speculation, is it a marlin, a swordfish, can’t be a sailfish it’s too big.  Sara grabs the camera and the Florida Sport Fishing Guide.  I get the fish up to the boat, grab its bill and remove the hook.  It’s a monster, a Sailfish at least 6-1/2 feet.
Mike with the Sailfish's bill
Sailfish alongside Tanqueray
We release it back into the wild and begin read from the Florida Sport Fishing Guide.  It gives the boat and her crew high esteem, “From a sportfishing standpoint, Billfishes are the true kings of the open sea. They are not only among the fastest of all fishes, but also the most spectacular in the battles they wage against the latest in sophisticated boats and tackle, handled by the most experienced of anglers and crews.”  We were quite proud of our catch.  The Florida record sailfish 116 pounds.  I’m not sure what the Atlantic record holder is but we may have had it up to the boat.  It sure would have been fun to weigh.  I think it was over 120 pounds but we will never know. Still kicking myself for not getting more dimensions.  The sea rewards those who give back.  In another ten minutes we had our replacement fish.  Sara and I were down below when we heard an “Oh Oh!!” coming from the deck.  My dad had seen a Mahi Mahi streaking towards the lure!!  Next thing we hear is the reel running and my dad has abandoned the helm in exchange for the pole.  We rush on deck and give our support.  The fish is up to the boat.  I gaff it and bring her aboard.  A 49 incher. 
Trolling at Crooked Island.  We are here to fish.  Jimmy Buffet is here to fish too.  The fishing must be good.  We go out with our friends on their boat Twilight out for a one hour fishing session before heading down to French Wells anchorage.  20 minutes into our foray the first reel runs.  Laura grabs the pole and starts manhandleing her in.  We are sure it’s a tuna at least that’s what we hope.  It’s not.  Another 3 foot Barracuda.  Our time is up and we’ve got to get heading in before we lose our light.  We are still trolling but most of all we are trying to get into our anchorage before nightfall.  We hear the reel run.  It’s the big pole on the upper deck.  Know I’m not the best fisherman.  I know many better, my friends Kevin and Phil, and my co-worker Yale.  But I am enthusiastic when I hear the reel run.  I dashed for the pole nearly knocking Sara overboard and spilling her Dark and Stormy all over her.  I could not recollect I thought I had a clear path.  Max is working on the pole when I get there and the fish is still running.  Luckily for me Max is no longer allowed to reel in fish.  This is his fiancĂ©e’s rule.  She fears he may lose another one so I get to grab the pole.  The battle is on.  I move from the upper deck of the trawler to the stern and continue to fight.  The fish is deep.  Its 40 feet down when we first see it.  It’s a monster.  What is it? A whale?  We get it in it’s a Wahoo.  54 inches and over 60 pounds.  This fish gets the royal treatment we bring it aboard and give it a photo shoot that hasn’t been seen since the last Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition!                  
Daubie, Sara & Mike with 60+ pound Wahoo

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Long Island

Long Island Road-trip 2012!  The four of us, Max, Laura, Mike and I rented a jeep for two days and drove all over the island, making it as far as the north-end at Santa Maria.  It was slow progress the first day, but we made more distance on day two and we were more accustomed to the driving on the left had side of the road and waving to every car that passes by.

The World's deepest blue hole is in Long Island and we were able to swim and dive into it and also see some free divers preparing to dive the hole.  We made several stops at Max's Conch Bar, famous for his handmade conch salad, which is the best that I've tasted yet!

We ran into our friends Skip and Carol the first day. On Valentine's day, we all enjoyed a great picnic on the beach: pasta salad, hummus, dark & stormy's.  Mike climbed a coconut palm and twisted off four large coconuts for us.  We stopped at the Stella Maris Resort for drinks and a walk on their beach.  The last day with the car we picked up Daubie at the airport and planned our trip south to Crooked Island!  Pictures do more justice than words - see our adventures below ~

Dean's Blue Hole
Sara & Mike at Blue Hole

Laura & Max at Blue Hole
Monument on north-end of island - dedicated to the
island natives and the arrival of Christopher Columbus
Sunset from Long Island
Picnic on the beach - Skip, Mike, Sara, Max 
Stella Maris resort
On beach at north-end of Long Island - Stella Maris Resort
Laura, Max, Mike, Sara on beach at Long Island 
Mike on ocean side beach, north of Clarence Town
Mike and Skip
Mike picking coconuts for the gang.
Sara & Laura at ocean side beach on Long Island
Hiking up to the monument on north end of Long Island
View from monument
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies made aboard Twilight

Monday, February 20, 2012

White Bread

The first loaf of bread baked aboard Tanqueray, besides banana bread, was a success.  Try it out yourself.  It's delicious served warm directly out of the oven with a slice of butter.
Mike & Sara aboard with bread Twilight

         2 cups warm water 
         2/3 cup white sugar
         1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
         1 1/2 teaspoons salt
         1/4 cup vegetable oil
         6 cups bread flour

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam (About 20 minutes).
2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1-2 hours.
3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.

4. Before baking, sprinkle a little olive oil and rosemary on top of the bread.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nelly Chronicles Part 14

Uncle Hans
Written by Mike “Daubie” Daubenberger in the voice of Nelly the cat

I may have neglected to mention that the month of February was filled with a visit from uncle Hans, due to all the excitement, getting lost, swimming, etc.  Hans and I have a sorted past.  I even lived with him for a couple of weeks while my people enjoyed their honeymoon in Panama.  No cats allowed!

Living with Hans started out great.  I would spend my days outside chasing birds in the woods and hanging with the neighborhood cats.  No rules!  When Hans would return from work, we would relax on the couch and enjoy a few TV episodes before heading off to bed.  The foot of the bed for me.  Life was good.  Shortly into the visit Hans started coughing and pronounced that he was allergic to cats.  I was seldom allowed to touch him and I was certainly not allowed in his room.
Living on the boat with him is much the same except now he calls me smelly Nelly!!  Smelly Nelly, can you believe it coming from a sailor.  I don’t like to complain, but sailors aren’t exactly zest fully clean.  As for myself, I clean myself daily for 8 hours minimum.  The average Human spends 15 minutes in the shower and wastes 30 gallons of water.  I LICK

Life with Hans on the boat is not all bad, though.  He plays with me.  Lots!  We play the scarf game.  It’s like redlight, greenlight.  Hans whips the scarf around and I attack.  Then he wraps me up in it and I freeze.  It’s a pretty fun game except when I’m left frozen for extended periods.  Also his room is off limits so it adds to the excitement of the sneaking in and exploring his stuff.  I love to go to the off limit spaces.  It’s been a pretty exciting run having Hans aboard.  I hear the old one is coming to visit next.  I hope he remembers to bring his tube of Neosporin.     

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Conception Island & Rum Cay

We set sail from the Hog Cay anchorage on the northwest end of Long Island heading to Conception Island at sunrise, traveling with our friends Laura & Max on Twilight.  Both boats weighted down with the two mahi-mahi's that Mike and I had caught on our crossing from Georgetown to Long Island the day before.
Double mahi-mahi catch on the crossing
from Georgetown to Long Island. 
We tend to leave anchorage at least an hour before them since they are a 40 foot trawler and travel at 7.5 knots under power.  Depending on the wind speed, direction and ocean, we travel typically between 3-7 knots.  And more importantly, Twilight, travels directly to their destination, while we have to tack our way in depending on wind direction.
Tanqueray under sail
Both Twilight and Tanqueray arrived at Conception Island by noon and immediately after our arrival we went diving in the amazing coral heads surrounding the island.  We spent 2 days at Conception Island under full sun during the days and full moon during the nights.
Elkhorn Coral at Conception Island
The island is beautiful, with a mile long beach, crystal clear waters, dangerous coral, and a huge mangrove lagoon.  It is a land and sea park and is protected by the government, so no spear fishing was allowed.  Fine by us since the next day we were heading to Rum Cay, a spot famous for it's excellent fishing.
Long, white sandy beach on Conception Island 
Sara & Mike on the beach at Conception Island
Sara & Laura at Conception Island
Mike at Conception - going through the mangroves
Mangroves inside Conception Island
February 10th, my birthday, Mike and I woke up at 4:00am and set sail under moonlight to Rum Cay.  We arrived around noon, but spent an hour just getting into the anchorage at Rum Cay.  It is littered with coral heads, many that break the surface of the water.  Navigating through this type of terrain is extremely dangerous for boats, and Mike and I had to do it under sail, with no engine!!  Twilight had arrived an hour before us and gave us an update over the VHF on coral heads, but there was no direct course to take, we had to tack our way through.
Coral heads at Flamingo Bay anchorage at Rum Cay.
Tanqueray navigating through the coral heads
 into anchorage at Rum Cay
After arriving at Rum Cay, Max and Laura immediately jumped in their dinghy and headed over to our boat.  We spent the next three hours in the water with our jaws agape.  Rum Cay had amazing coral structures that could keep you in the water until the sun goes down and it nearly did.
Mike & Max with lobster catch at Rum Cay
Laura & Max on the full moon
Mike with his plantain tarts
Max and Mike speared lobsters and we celebrated my birthday aboard Twilight that evening with a feast.  Lobster pizza, San Marzano pasta, and plantain tarts.  Quite the feast & celebration for such a remote island, with only two boats in the harbor.  Ours!

Lobster that Max speared right between the eyes.
Lobster pizza
The next morning, everyone gathered on Tanqueray for the 6:45am Chris Parker weather report.  The reports were that the weather was going to deteriorate as a norther was heading in and the seas were going to be nasty.  We planned to leave that morning once there was enough daylight to navigate through the coral heads on the way out of the anchorage.
Coral heads at Rum Cay at the surface of the water.
Little tuni dinner that Max & Laura caught on the way
to Clarence Town, Long Island - Best Dinner Yet!
It was a rough sail to Clarence Town that day, beating in to the 20+ knot winds and waves on our bow.  After beating our heads into it for three hours with little progress, Mike and I only hoped to arrive at the anchorage before sunset but were doubtful.  Little did we know we would enter the harbor as the sun went down carrying a 42 inch Mahi-Mahi in the cooler.  Max and Laura were due in at 2:30, but they spent a couple hours trolling outside the anchorage where they hooked into two good size Little Tunny's.  Gourmet dinner was served that evening aboard Twilight from their catch! 

Travel day - Nelly at the helm with Mike 
Brain coral at Rum Cay
Nelly traveling by dingy to visit Twilight in
Clarence Town, Long Island