First Annual Yak-In: August 16th, 2003
I'm so pleased to present this report on our very first Annual Yak-In. Despite my wacko efforts, it turned out to be a great success, thanks to the efforts of all.
Special thanks to Coconutty Frank, event meister supreme, who gently critiqued my first announcement, basicly telling me to can it and do it right. Which I did thanks to Frank's many suggestions, and thanks too to Frank and Brandon for recording our event on cameras.
And a big thanks to Chef Mike. Not only did he spend hours whipping up some professional chef sauces and marinades, but guided me through BJ's to accumulate all the stuff we needed. And was busy grilling while we all ate.
Thanks also to Don B., Master Yakfisher and artist, who promised us fresh fish, and darn if he didn't deliver some fresh caught snapper and small cuda (for which Chef Mike had created a special lemon marinade).
Thanks to Sue Sea, whom everyone will agree gave a special life to the party and made sure everyone had fun. And to Joe, former member of nationally known and recorded Latin Jazz group, who brought his axe (guitar to you) and played some great acoustic music.
We were specially blessed by the 3 or 4 yakbrothers who brought wives and children, all of whom joined us on the water. It was so cute seeing those cherubs bundled in their lifejackets with fishing poles out on the water. Children do bless any event, and we were thankful and happy to have them.
And last, of course, I'd like to thank my dear daughter Phoebe, with us in spirit and to whom I dedicated this event. Phoebe and I loved Pennekamp and had one of the most wonderful experiences of our lives snorkeling out by the Christ of the Deep statue.
The day was scheduled to start at 8am, and Mike, Sue Sea and I almost made it. We were only about 15 min late, but then ran into a roadrunners' road race which had the northbound lanes completely blocked. So we didn't hit the shelter til maybe 8:30 or so to find a bunch of Yakbrothers in place.
We got lucky with our choice of the outlying "Snook" shelter, cause all the runners and other patrons chose the big parking lots over by the marina. So we pretty much owned Snook Corner. We all set up, and headed out as planned.
The winds were easterlies and pretty strong, but the Sound is perfect cause the flats are up against the eastern shore which blocks the wind, as do the numerous small mangrove humps and mini-islands. As I recall, Joe, Mike, Sue Sea, David, Robert and brother, Superfly Ken, George, Frank, Don and I got to the designated starting point.
We all moseyed north as planned, and there were sufficient hits to keep things interesting. No bones, but tons of cuda. Several lures were lost and recovered to their slashing hits, including some sizable specimens. I hooked up with Sue Sea and Joe, and found a little enclosed pool at the SW corner of the largest mangrove island in the area. Stunning and fulla snapper, great place to hide out in a storm (more about this later).
Finally ended up at the north end of the flats, when some thunder and darkening skies were noted. Between puffs on his cigar, Frank blew his whistle; apparently the main group was hungry and a bit nervous bout the skies, so they decided to head back at a modest pace.
Naturally I had to have "just a few more casts" and a "few more casts" and... well, took my time. Sue Sea, concerned as always as she is for me (thank you Sue Sea), waited as she did not want to leave me alone with an impending storm. Finally decided it was time to head back, so we moseyed south down the shore, trying to stay close to shelter in case.
Sue Sea was gettin nervous tho, so we took a chance and decided to cross open water back to the launch point. BIG mistake. Got about halfway when a real squall hit...30 knot gusty winds, rising waves and froth, and rain so thick we lost almost all visibility.
Sue Sea and I were side by side when suddenly I heard a shout, turned to to look, and she was gone! Yak upside down, debris spreading, and no Sue Sea!! Honestly, my heart stopped. I thought she was down, in and done for! Finally I saw the yak bouncing up and down and realized she was under it. Thinking her trapped I rushed over, as did a nearby motorboat.
Turns out Sue Sea was more concerned about littering the water than getting out of the water. I insisted that she hold on to her yak, and asked the boat to stay, when Don B showed up. We stayed right by Sue Sea until she regained her strength, and helped her right the yak, gather the floating bags, etc., and get back on.
Thank god it all turned out. But it sure is a lesson: don't attempt open water if a storm is imminent. We'd have been perfectly safe at the mangrove island, out of the wind and frankly, the storm only lasted maybe 15 or 20 minutes. A lesson to all.
So when our bedraggled trio arrived back at the launch, everyone was there but Brandon, so we decided to fire up the grill early and eat. Which we did. It was wonderful. Good burgers, Nathan's and Sabrett dogs, corn-on-the-cob, baked potatoes, chips, dips, Mike special sauces, condiments of all kinds, salads, veggies, fruits, Key Lime pie, et al.
Wow! We all ate well and drank well. Afterwards Joe broke out his guitar, and accompanied by the bongo stylings of moi, did 4 or 5 acoustic numbers. "Joe and the Captain Unplugged!" The day ended soon thereafter and we all yakked up and headed back from our day in Paradise.
In sum, a truly wonderful and blessed event. All had fun. We got wet, but not for long. Most of us caught some fish, and lost more. The food and friendship was the best. And all agreed we needed to do it again. We will...
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