In an earlier post, I related the experience of purchasing our new 55-foot Hatteras sportfish boat. It was a good boat, and we had many adventures in it—after we recovered from the shock of Bubba’s suicide. You can read about the incident in Chapter 39 “The (Second) New Boat” on my website: http://frankwilem.com.
After the news about the fate of our erstwhile fishing tournament captain, I was distracted and had little interest in completing our hull bottom inspection. But since the boat was out of the water, hanging in the Travel Lift, we had no choice. We performed a cursory check, they put the boat back in the water, and we finalized the purchase of Vixen.
We recovered from the shock of Bubba’s death, at least as much as you can from such a tragic event, and finished readying Vixen for her maiden voyage in time for the Hatteras-Bertram fishing tournament. I invited our good friends, Don and Linda to join us.
Don derived no small amount of pleasure from the initial discussion with my broker regarding tournament fishing. “Do you have any rods and reels?”, my broker asked.
“Well certainly,” I replied, somewhat indignantly. “I’ve got a bunch of 4/0 Penn Senators with Star rods.” I could tell from the broker’s embarrassed smile, and Don’s snicker, that I had committed a serious faux pas.
“I think you’re going to want something a little larger,” my broker replied. While my old school gear was great for catching snapper and grouper, but it certainly was not suitable for fighting giant billfish.
This led to another workout of my credit card for the purchase of five new Shimano Tiagra 80-wides, mounted on custom rods, emblazoned with a different hand-painted fish on each rod along with the boat name, Vixen. They were really cool—really, really expensive, but really cool.
After rounding up an experienced mate, we set out for the Bahamas on our first adventure with Captain Bligh at the helm. We arrived at Boat Harbor in the Abacos, along with 70 other boats which proved to be an intimidating, though exhilarating, introduction to my first big game tournament.
The seas were filled with enormous swells running during the entirety of the tournament as we fished for marlin with no luck, except for a few small dolphins. But we had a good time, and were flushed with excitement over the newness of the experience.
A few weeks later, school was out for the summer, and we gathered up the family to head back to the Bahamas on our first solo trip. Atlantis was to be our first destination, and we set out on the first leg of our trip from Pier 66 in Ft. Lauderdale, making the crossing with no problems.
The marina at Atlantis is filled with very large yachts. So we, in our comparatively tiny boat, were relegated to the furthest docks which were not quite yet completed. They had not yet had a chance to add any wooden pilings, and so there was nothing to keep the boat from sliding beneath the overhanging raw concrete dock. As I nervously backed in for the very first time, I couldn’t see the finger pier beside me. So I had my fifteen-year-old son, Chris, spotting for me.
I heard a loud crunch, immediately followed by my son’s shout, “That’s far enough.” I ran to the side of the bridge to find that the current had blown the boat beneath the front of the finger pier, and our boat had its first bo-bo.
I really felt bad until the very next day, when a guy backed into the slip beside us in his brand new 65-foot Hatteras with an enclosed bridge and did the very same thing. I watched as he stepped from the bridge, glanced at the damage, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oh well.” Immediately, I felt somewhat less incompetent.
Atlantis was a lot of fun. My son, Chris, loved riding the waterslide that ran right through the enormous shark tank for about a half of a second. My daughter, Britt, was bummed because she was not tall enough to qualify for the slide, and so we took her to the beach where we swam and built sandcastles.
We left Atlantis in the early morning to return to the Abacos. The crossing was rough and Dee Dee was not a happy camper. To placate her, I promised to take her to this place I had seen in the Cruising Guide called Pete’s Pub. Although I had never been there, the brief write-up indicated that they served hamburgers, and one of Dee Dee’s most favorite foods in the whole world—lobster.
It was mid-afternoon by the time we finally made it past Hole-In-The-Wall to Little Harbor, where we anchored the boat. After we got cleaned up and launched the tender, we headed for Pete’s Pub to feast on lobster—or so I thought.
(The story continues next week in Part 2.)
Disclaimer: Frank Wilem is an author, speaker, and all around funny and entertaining guy. On this blog, his stories are based on his real life experiences, often with a satirical twist.
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