Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Road-trip Begins!

View on the Parkway - definitely worth the extra miles to drive this route!
Winding through the Appalachian mountains and into the midwest, we've only needed to camp one night so far, much to our surprise.  

Hike in the Appalachian mountains.
With the many family, friends and friends of family, our camping has not been the typical "camping" which usually lack showers, laundry and comfy beds.  

View while driving through the Appalachian Mountains on the Parkway
Our camping has consisted of luxurious mountain houses, boathouses and convents.  Yes, a convent.  We spent the night in Adrian, Michigan with the Dominican nuns.  They even found it humorous when my Aunt Sis informed them we were on our honeymoon!  
Me and Aunt Sis
After selling our sailboat to a pair of young newly weds, Jon and Geri, that plan to honeymoon in the Bahamas like we did, we took off on our road-trip immediately.  Time was of essence and we had much to do and see.
Jon & Geri on the Tanqueray
We were excited to sell the boat and be on our way, but it was a bittersweet day, saying good-bye to our trustworthy home was not easy.  

Sara, Mike and Nelly on the road.
There’s a saying known among boaters, 

      “The two happiest days are the day you buy a boat and the day you sell it”.  

This rang true for us although it was hard to say good-bye to the Tanqueray, our home of 9-months.

Nelly enjoying her new favorite spot in the truck while driving through the Parkway.
Now our adventure continues on a cross-country road-trip back to the West coast.  Below is a re-cap of our driving adventures through the Appalachians and the Mid-west thus far since the Tanqueray left our worried minds:
Last photo aboard Tanqueray
  • Sold the Tanqueray on August 8, 2012 -
  • Cause for a champagne celebration with the Walker's
  • Lucky Tanqueray, she will be heading back to the Bahamas in November with her new owners, Jon & Geri!
  • Departed Fort Pierce, FL on August 9, 2012 - 
  • Good-bye & Thank-you to the Walker's 
Nelly relaxing in the backseat while road-tripping
  • 4 hour drive to Palataka, FL (2 nights) - 
  • Hello Aunt Terri, Miles, Tyler, Holli, Charlie & the girls
  • Tyler takes us on an hour flight to St Augustine and back.

Flying with Tyler
Mike in the back seat of the airplane
  • Holli gives us our first haircuts since the Dominican Republic!
  • Terri & Miles take us out to Happy Hour – it’s a fun visit. 
  • 3 hour drive to Savannah, GA (lunch stop)
  • Enjoyed a delicious meal of shrimp & grits and walk the Historical waterfront. 
Savannah, GA
  • 6 hour drive to Asheville, NC (3 nights)
  • Visit with the Naimark's & Mike's Granny Pat
Mike, Granny Pat and Sara overlooking the Appalachian mountains
historic site - Biltmore
  • Hiking, picnics, campfires, jumping into cold-cold water, Biltmore
  • Fun times in Asheville yet again!
Picnicing with the Naimarks
Beautiful waterfalls in the Parkway outside of Asheville, NC
Mick, Callie, Lizzy, Mike and Sara on a hike
View in the mountains of Asheville
Sara, Mike and Granny Pat

Blueridge Parkway - view of Appalachian Mountains
  • -1 day Scenic Detour on the Blueridge Parkway (1 night camping)-
  • We ran 4 strenuous hikes in the Parkway, our legs were exhausted.
Driving on the Parkway
Hike along the Parkway
Music museum off the Pa
Hike along the Parkway
View off the Parkway

  • 9 hour drive to Sandusky, OH (3 nights)
  • Drove through 4 states: NC, VI, WV, OH - beautiful drive with lots of green rolling hills
  • Stayed with Mike’s mom’s childhood best-friends daughter, Alice, in a boathouse on Lake Erie

  • Alice, Nelly and Mike outside the boathouse in Sandusky, OH

  • Spent a long day at Cedar Point, World’s Best Amusement Park

    • Visited the Sandusky Yacht Club
    • Visited Mike’s 2nd Uncle Rick and his historical 1900 house
    • Visited Mike's moms recommended sites - Catholic church, library, grandpa's grave, parks
    St. Mary's Catholic church in Sandusky, OH
    • Visited Mike’s Great Aunt Rita
    Mike and Great-Aunt Rita
    • 2 hour drive to Adrian, MI (1 night)
    • Stopped at Ottowa National Park for a nature run.

    Ottawa National Park

    Ottawa National Park
    • Stopped at a local fruit stand for Melon Mania 4 for $1.00
    • Visited my Great Aunt Sis and the Adrian Dominican Sisters
    • Spent the night in the convent with the nuns!

    Aunt Sis showing me the history of the
    Dominican Adrian Catholic nuns.
    • 5 hour drive to Chicago, IL (2 nights)
    • Stopped at Indiana Dunes Park & saw Great Lake Michigan
    • Priceline 4-star hotel in downtown Chicago only $65/night
    • Unfortunately parking costs $50/day
    • We snuck Nelly, the cat, into the hotel (Wish us Luck with that endeavor!)
    View of downtown Chicago
    Nelly relaxing in the Hyatt
    View from 32nd floor in the Chicago Hyatt

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    A Fishing Tale - A Fisherman's Delight

    By, Michael Daubenberger

    Out of commission.  That’s what happens when you spear yourself in the hand.  No need to worry with Sara on board to step in as the head spearfisherwoman.  Our first trip out since the accident, we were in search of lunch.  Within 10 minutes Sara had spotted it, a Strawberry Grouper.  I watched from the surface while Sara dove down and made a perfect shot.  Not bad for her first grouper. 

    Four days later we went out again.  Sara with the pole spear and myself with the Hawaiian sling.  Time to get back on the horse.  After a number of tries, I had my first success, a Marget from the Grunt family of fish.  Sara followed it up with a Nassau Grouper just to show me up.  Dinner was served. 

    For our last fish in the Exumas, Sara and I decided to get some small pan fryers.  Porgies of course.  Again we got one fish each.  

    From the Exumas we moved on to Cat Island.  A fifty-mile crossing and a great chance to hook into a pelagic fish.  We were hoping for a Mahi Mahi and that’s what we got.  A nice one too!  Sara fought the fish, Otto got the helm and I grabbed the gaffe hook.  It was our first Mahi Mahi since Matt and Cindy were onboard in May.  A long time coming!  

    Blood bath from the mahi mahi
    Our trip up Cat Island took us to the Devils Backbone located on the north end of the Island.  The Devils Backbone is an intricate passage littered with coral heads.  What better place to stop, snorkel, and spearfish?  We made the stop indeed and it was worth it.  The snorkeling was world class and the fish were prolific.  During the stop I speared a small bar jack and a white grunt. 

    Onward to the Abacos!!  We didn’t know what to expect.  We anticipated seeing less fish and less big fish due to the population on the islands and proximity to Florida.  We couldn’t have been more wrong!!  Our first snorkeling session was at the northwest end of Great Guana Cay.  It was a protected land and sea park so no fishing.  The reef was amazing and so was the abundance of fish.  Huge schools of iridescent tiny fish filled the seas and groupers could be seen poking their heads out from under the coral heads.  Three days later we made our first entry into the water with spears in hand.  The location, No Name Cay, the reefs, just as vibrant.  Sara and I snorkeled for two hours, chased out of the water only by the time of day.  Our loot, two Spanish Hogfish, and a Schoolmaster Snapper.    

    Ty arrived and we headed to the west end of Manjack Cay.  We arrived under the threat of tropical storm (Debbie).  She keep us off of the outer reefs but not out of the water.  Upon arrival we jumped in the dinghy to find some dinner.  Not much fish, and not much reef but we were able to find a Strawberry Grouper.  Grouper Fingers!! 

    The next day we headed out and gave Ty the reins to the three-pronged spear to kill a lionfish.  The lionfish was small, real small.  Not an easy target, so Ty swam down for a practice shot 2 inches from the fish’s head.  The fish did not flinch.  His next shot was a dead bulls-eye.  The fish was trapped between the three prongs of the spear.   Not a single one of them puncturing its delicate flesh.  We could have sold it to and aquarium unharmed.  Nice shot Ty!!  We continued to snorkel and I found a school of porgies.  Pan fryers for lunch.  I speared three nice ones on three shots.  

    With my ego soaring as I trained my eyes on a Nassau Grouper.  Again, a direct shot and another fish in the boat.  We drifted off shore and Sara caught my attention pointing to a monster fish.  My first though was a shark!  No it was a fish, a Cero.  The Cero is a fish that is constantly on the move, fast, agile, and not often speared.  This one I was able to get within range expecting my 6-foot spear to swim away with the fish.  The fish I did spear, but swim away, he did not.  He made it about twenty feet before I was able to grab the spear and haul him back to the boat.  Our day of fishing was done. 

    Our next stop was Moraine Cay.  A wonderland for snorkelers and spearfisherman alike.  The coral heads rose from 15 feet up to the surface with channels, caves, and tunnels throughout.  To say the least, we spent days exploring and still just scratched the surface.  The fish were everywhere but they were also a little shifty.  Our first trip out we came home empty handed.  The next trip out was more rewarding.  I spotted a grouper and headed down.  As I approached, the fish spooked so I poked my head in a cave nearby and spotted a nice Schoolmaster.  

    The shot, right behind the gills and the fish took off with the spear.  The fight was on.  He drug the spear deep under a rock ledge were I could just reach the end of the spear.    The fish was stuck, real stuck.  I tugged and rotated and tugged and finally as I was just nearing the end of my breath, I got him out.  Sara and I jumped in the dinghy and ditched the giant Barracuda that had is eye on our prize. 

    Our next fish, a hogfish speared for our neighbors on the Kopy Kat.  Their favorite type of fish.   

    Again in the afternoon we headed out and Sara took her turn with the Hawaiian sling.  On her first attempt ever she swam down twenty feet to approach a good-sized porgy.  She got there and waited, waited for the fish to turn allowing for the perfect shot and the perfect shot it was.  On Sara’s first attempt with a Hawaiian sling she had speared a fish.  Not many people can say that about their wife.  But I can. 

    It was time for us to get our favorite type of fish.  The Nassau Grouper.  Sara and I went out to find it.  Sara spotted the fish and I went down to get it.  A nice Nassau Grouper!!

    Our next stop was a reef behind Allens Pensicola Cay.  We watched the thunderclouds in the distance and decided we were not in danger so we jumped in the dinghy and headed out to the reef.  Again we got a Nassau Grouper. 

    In Foxtown after dropping off Tyler we met a couple in the bar with a suggestion for our next stop.  Carter Cay, the land of Black Grouper and Mutton Snapper.  We arrived, anchored and hopped in the dinghy for a drift dive down the cut.  We drifted down and got a Yellowfin Grouper.  That evening I followed it up with a hogfish. 

    In the morning we went out on slack tide.  I dove down after a big Mutton Snapper and gave it a shot.  Right behind the gills.  The fish swam off and I followed as he snuck into a hole.  I reached for the spear, it shook, and the fish swam out the other end.  A 6 foot nurse shark joined in on the excitement and bit the tip of the spear then drifted up towards the Sara and the dinghy.  Sara jumped in and I followed.  Unfortunately I still needed to go back down and get the spear.  We were told later that by a couple of Bahamian fisherman not to spearfish in the cut because the sharks swim in packs in there.  Luckily we didn’t see any shark packs.  Later in the day we went out with our friend Bruce from Johnny Wasabi and got two Nassau Grouper. 

    Our final stop in the Abacos was Double Breasted Cay.  One last chance to fill up the freezer and fill it up we did.  In total, we netted four Hogfish, two Mutton Snapper, one lionfish, one Strawberry Grouper, one Schoolmaster and one huge Margat.