Dry Tortugas – Day 7

It starts to rain at 1:30am We wake up to rain pouring in our hatch. The bed is soaked by the time we get the wind scoop off and the hatch closed. The wind is howling – maybe 25 to 30 knots. We dry  ourselves, the bed and the floor. I go back to bed. Fran says “In a wet bed?” I reply “It’s only wet in the middle.”

A few minutes later Fran is calling me. Our shade is trying to blow off. She is holding a corner and wants a piece of rope so she can retie it, but sees the grommet is torn out. We decide we need to take it down. It is tied in some places and we have to cut the ropes with a knife, but we get it down and out of the wind.

While we are doing this boats around us that are dragging anchor and commercial vessels are coming into this anchorage for better protection. When we came here we put out 75 feet of chain, 5:1 scope. In these condition we need at least 7:1, but we are afraid to mess with it now since The wind is gusting and our anchor is holding. We set Drag Queen just in case.

We try to go back to sleep. Me in part of the bed that is dry and Fran in the aft cabin.

We get up at 5:30am and make coffee. We pull the anchor at 6:50am and we are underway to Marquesas. We are wallowing with the wind behind us and following seas.

George calls us on the radio and says they caught a tuna. We put out the trolling rods. At 8:30 we catch a 24″ cero mackerel. At 9:15 we catch a 21″ tuna.

Cero Mackerel
Cero Mackerel

George calls us on the VHF radio and suggests we go north of Half Moon Shoal since it might be calmer. It doesn’t seem to make much difference.

We approach the west side of Marquesas and we think it might be rough anchoring there. We decide to try anchoring on the northeast side of Marquesas. If that looks too rough we will anchor in Boca Grande Key.

It starts raining at 2:20. We have to close up the boat. With everything closed and our exhaust (annoying) fan not working it is really hot below and our refrigerator is not happy. The yellow light is blinking. According to the manual that means low voltage, but that doesn’t make sense because the batteries are fully charged from running the engine all day. We think it may be too hot so we try to cool it off with fans.

We get near the spot northeast of Marquesas and decide to continue to Boca Grande Key. The seas are really rough until we get into the Boca Grande Channel, then it calms way down. We raft up to Steel Lady.

The refrigerator is still not working. We think the problem is that it is next to the engine and is too hot. We open the engine room doors to cool off the engine room and now the entire boat is hot. We start the generator and run the A/C. The A/C pulls a lot of current and occasionally the generator goes into overload. When that happens we have to restart it, but eventually the boat cools down a little. The refrigerator is still not working.

In the meantime we clean fish. We filet three tunas, the one Fran caught and two from George and Nancy. We cut the cero mackerel into 1″ steaks. After that we clean up the blood and guts and freeze all the fish, except for enough cero mackerel for dinner.

We try running the refrigerator on 110 AC with the generator and surprisingly it works.

We grill some cero mackerel. It  is awesome.

We are on the edge of having cell phone service. It is Mothers Day and Fran gets texts from her children. She even talks on the phone, but the calls keep dropping.

We leave the generator running while we go to bed so the refrigerator will run until the generator runs out of gas. When we get in bed, the bit of breeze we have is blowing fumes into the boat, so we turn the generator off. The refrigerator has a cold plate and it should keep cool for a while.

We had a good day despite the weather and problems with the refrigerator. We caught fish and we are here in this awesome anchorage. You can down-load our track, track20170514.kmz and open it in Google Earth if you want to explore Boca Grande Key.

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