Back from Martha’s Vineyard

Back from Martha’s Vineyard

My son and I just returned from a stay on Martha’s Vineyard. Yeah, this is Derby time on the Island. Which as you may know draws hardcore anglers from far and wide. During the Derby I’ve seen license plates from many states along the Atlantic, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The Derby’s fabled history, the legendary fishing, and a chance to win a big prize all figure into the mix.

We came prepared with fly rods, reels, fly lines, you name it. And of course, a mountain of flies, some left over from last year’s poor fishing. Mother nature did her part supplying stellar fall weather. Man, it was gorgeous, blue bird skies, dry and cool. Plenty of bait in the wash too. Peanut bunker, sand eels, silversides. So, the stage was set, but the fish never showed up. Yes, you heard right; the fish weren’t there. Damn. During our time on the beach, I never witnessed a single hookup.

It was an island-wide problem too. From Chappaquiddick to Gay Head, anglers were shaking their heads. Derby weigh ins were a fraction of normal. But the diehards never quit casting. I heard one angler in the last week had put in 95 hours casting from the tip of the jetty! Yeah, hope springs eternal, especially for the young Turks. And the parking lot was full everyday with the same trucks. No one was giving an inch.

On my last day there, I spoke with a fly angler who had fishing the Martha’s Vineyard Derby for over 20 years and won the grand prize once, walking away with a brand-new pickup truck. He told me this happens sometimes – for no apparent reason the fish vanish. They could return in a tide, a day, or a week. You just can’t tell. One just has to grin and bear it. Oh well, as always, fishing is wishing.

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Heading to Martha’s Vineyard

Heading to Martha’s Vineyard

Well, I’m headed to Martha’s Vineyard for five days. Hoping to run into some Atlantic bonito. The gear is all piled up and ready to go into the truck. Quite a pile. And actually, that’s not all of it! There is also a cooler of food and a duffle of cloths. Yeah, I try to be prepared. I don’t get to Martha’s Vineyard enough, so I want to make every visit count.

Got five full boxes of flies, ranging from big 5/0 adult menhaden patterns down to tiny size 4# sand eels. Three rods a 7wt, a 9wt, and my old trusty 1owt. Fly lines, of course. As well as a stack of old lines for emergencies. Reels and spare spools too. Waders, pliers, stripping basket, Boga grip, loads of tippet material, super glue, bite tippet, tape, tools including small screw drivers for repairing eyeglasses, sunscreen, bug dope, hats, wader repair kit, wading belt, fly line dressing, flashlights and batteries. Did I miss anything?

Along with all of that is my camera gear. It rides in a Pelican case. I still rely heavily on my Nikon D700. Yes it is way long in the tooth, but the D700 has become something of a legend among hardcore Nikon users. It has a full frame sensor that cranks out beautiful color. And it is weatherproof ready to be on the beach, and heavily built, a beast that can take the abuse I dish out. Love it, a real workhorse. My backup camera is an Olympus Tough TG-6. Waterproof and shockproof. Great little pocket camera.

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Rain, Rain go Away!

Rain, Rain go Away!

Hey at one time or another we have all fished in the rain. Right? Sometimes a passing shower, sometimes a downpour.  Sometimes we got caught by accident and sometimes we purposely fished in it. It happens. But the amount of rain we have been getting this summer in southern New England is flat out killing the fishing. It’s no longer a joke.  Its bad news. Flat out dangerous.

Thunderstorm Approaching at Dusk

In my home state of Connecticut, Memorial Day was wet and June was soggy. Then along can July – a real soaker. In fact, July proved to be the third wettest ever, only 1.5″ off the all-time record. Rivers swollen, low lands flooded, not good. Our total for that month was over 10″, 7″ more than average. And we weren’t alone. Our neighboring states had serious problems too. In Chicopee Massachusetts they got 12.48 inches of rain in July. Their average for the month is about 4 inches! Boston was a mess. The 15 and the 20th were the only days it didn’t rain in Beantown. By the 21st, the city had over 9″ of rain compared to an average of around 2″ Records were being broken. (By the way, worldwide, July was the hottest July ever!)

Storm Clearing with Nightfall

Damn, August was wet too. As it drew to a close, we got hit by tropical storm Henri delivering up to 6″ of additional rain. Yeah, the totals for the summer season were adding up fast. So when August came to a close, officially marking the end of season, we learned the bad news. Summer had brought 21.6″ of rain to Connecticut! Making it the third wettest summer ever in Connecticut. Yikes. Then as September opened more trouble arrived. Late last night the tail end of hurricane Ida hit us. Waking me up, with lightning, wind and torrential rains, it slammed us upwards of 8″ of water! Crazy.

And folks the hurricane season is far from over! Is my upcoming Martha’s Vineyard in jeopardy? We’ll see.


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Rescuing a 1897 17′ Aquasport Part Five

The $800 Coosa Board has Arrived

Okay, onward with the rescue. In the Part Four,  we began the process of building a new transom. Yesterday, with the Coosa board finally on hand, we made a good deal of progress. The Coosa will become the solid, strong core of the transom. But before it can be the core, it had to be cut to properly fit. Now this Coosa board is worth close to $800, so we had to be accurate the first time. To do that, we began by making a simple cardboard template of the transom core. Obviously, unlike the 1.5″ thick Coosa, this cardboard template is quite thin and therefore can not fully reveal the true finished shape of the core.

The Cardboard Template being transferred to the foam

The next the step was to transfer the cardboard template to a 1.5″ sheet of foam insulation. Once cut out, we tried it in the hull. As we expected the foam template didn’t fit snuggly in place. For one thing it revealed that both the port and starboard sides of the template needed to be extensively bull nosed. So we shaped the foam template to better fit, checking several times.

The Foam Template being transferred to the Coosa board

When done, we had a very good idea how to cut the Coosa. So the foam template was traced onto the Coosa board. Then a jigsaw was used to carefully cut the Coosa. The resulting Coosa core was then placed in the hull to check for fit. As the foam had shown us, both port and starboard sides required bull nosing. We did the adjusting very slowly, constantly checking to get the best possible fit, realizing that any small gaps could later be filled with epoxy resin.

My son checking the Coosa for Fit

Once we were satisfied, the inside face of the Coosa (the one that would eventually face the engine) was painted with epoxy resin. A piece of fiberglass cloth was then cut to fit that face and squeegeed into place and coated with more epoxy. Then the Coosa core with wet fiberglass cloth was firmly clamped into position and left to dry. Looking good!

Double checking inside and out

If you wish to see the previous post use the links below

Part One   Part Two    Part Three   Part Four

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Searching for the Soul of Ireland

Searching for the Soul of Ireland

Its been a long time since I set foot in Éire, but the memories are strong. Several things have delayed a return. My move to Florida put me considerably farther from the Emerald Isle. And then when I returned to Connecticut ready to hop a plane, covid19 struck.

Among my memories are a rainy day on a remote road between Ardgroom and Eyeries.  After a time, the lane narrowed, barely 5 feet wide, coursing the rolling land, with the ocean never far away. Just beyond midday, I crested a hill offering long views over the rugged terrain. Dropping my pack, I stood there lost in thought, while in the distance a white horse ascended the hill to greet me. Separated only by a knee high wall, we stood 4 feet apart.  Silently in the mist, we stared into each others eyes for what seemed an eternity. It felt like I had met the soul of Ireland.


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