Landed!

We’re back in Annapolis, docked at Jabin’s Yacht Yard after a delightful passage south. We made good speed, and had excellent weather.

One of the trip’s highlights came south of Cape Cod, after we got into warmer water: We set out trolling lines as we motored along in a calm patch. We were about 100 miles off New York City on the edge of the continental shelf where the water drops from about 200 feet deep to over 3000.

Out here you have to watch for the floats that the long line fishermen set over their gear. Mostly they are fishing for tuna and swordfish very deep; 1000 feet, or even more. The lines are set at least overnight, and as long as several days, and when they say “long” lines, they mean it! There can be miles of hooks stretched between floats set every mile or so.

Long line float and radar reflector

These floats consist of a large fender, and a pole with a radar reflector attached. They are not lit, so at night the minimally effective radar reflector is the only way to see them–assuming you have your radar on and properly tuned!

Out here, in deep water, far from land, ANYTHING on the surface of the water attracts fish, and very quickly. In Hawaii there are buoys anchored in the deep water off the islands for the sole reason to attract and concentrate fish. They are locally called Fish Attracting Devices (FADs). Anything floating on the surface works as an FAD from a log to a patch of seaweed, and it does not need to be very big.

As our spread of trolling lures came up to the first of these long line floats, the idea of it possibly being an effective FAD was just beginning to form in my head… Zing! FISH ON!

A mahi-mahi who had been hanging out around a long line float.

We trolled past two floats in the next hour, and picked up a mahi-mahi off each of them. None of the fish were really large, but more than big enough to end up in our freezer.

Fresh off success around the long line floats, we made a small detour off of our straight line course to a permanently moored deep water weather buoy.

Anchored in 1600 feet of water, this large research buoy creates its own ecosystem.

We stopped next to the buoy, and I cast a jig up close, and quickly hooked another mahi-mahi. It is typical for the whole school of mahi-mahi to follow the hooked one right up to the boat, and in this case they did not disappoint. About a half dozen of the brilliently colored fish were swarming around their doomed cousin, but even more amazing, down as deep as we could see (in very clear water!) were hundreds and hundreds of large jacks. We could have caught jacks until our arms fell off. Lucky for them we do not consider them great table fare.

Other fun and exciting events on our passage were seeing an unusual “fog bow” in the dense fog off Nantucket.

Not as colorful as the regular rainbow, the “fogbow” is a bit rarer.

We frequently ran into groups of common dolphin who usually broke off whatever they were doing to ride along with Harmonie. On this trip we also saw a group of the much larger Risso dolphin, but they did not closely interact with the boat.

We’ll be in Annapolis at Burt Jabin’s Yacht Yard for several weeks while we do projects, go to boat shows, take some classes, and attend to other business. If you’re in the neighborhood, give a shout and stop by!

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