Key West and Beyond...

East coast represent! Remember be vague on spots!

Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby CATriton » July 6th, 2016, 2:11 pm

JP, just found this thread you have going and thank god I had 40 minutes to enjoy tracking your life from page 1 to page 5. Great to meet you in Baja and I look forward to catching up in the Keys one day.

And I don't care what all those other guys said about you . . . you are an animal! And yes, that is your pic as my avatar.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » July 25th, 2016, 4:52 am

Good meeting you too Alex. You and George need to get to the Keys soon.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » July 28th, 2016, 4:35 pm

Well, here goes nothing. Tomorrows the day, it's gonna be a long weekend. Hanging motors and running harnesses. Installing new Battery control and charging cluster, house battery, 440 watt amp, a few more speaker wires. Next week... 4 more JL 6.5's when the boxes are finished, acrylic trim plates (they cover existing holes and wear lines) then controls and gauges. I've already wet sanded and waxed the areas needed for the install. After everything is in i'll finish the rest of the hull and console. Lotsa work... but I want it done right and done once.

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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » August 1st, 2016, 4:55 am

Looks like a small chance I may get to dive this weekend. Finally hung my motors. I ran the harnesses, new fuel lines, new fuel filters and brackets, new rigging tubes, connected the steering ram and tie bar. The electric is ran to a central location, waiting on power posts. Up this week is battery install including the new switches, I have to run the speaker wire still and add the third battery. I should receive the trim kits for all the gauges and the throttles any day to start breaking in the motors. It's a lot of work but definitely worth doing to learn yourself.

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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby greekdiver » August 1st, 2016, 6:03 am

Awesome. I can't wait for next dive trip!!
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby John Hughes » August 1st, 2016, 11:36 am

Impressive you're doing all that work yourself JP!
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » August 1st, 2016, 11:46 am

John Hughes wrote:Impressive you're doing all that work yourself JP!


To me it's somewhat necessary. If you are doing long range trips you owe it to yourself and your crew to know how the boat works. If you pay people to do everything and don't understand how the boat works you will not be in a good position when things go wrong. Even if I had a ton of money I would still do 90% of this myself. None of it is hard, especially with resources like thehulltruth.com and youtube. Almost any install or repair can be found. Then its just a matter of tools and patience.



... and beer.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby GreasyGar » August 7th, 2016, 10:35 am

oh my...
the fuel range with thise zukis....drool..
one of my favorite threads, thanks for updating!
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » August 8th, 2016, 5:33 am

I got the boat dropped in on Saturday for the break in to begin. Ran around a little and decided we are diving on Sunday. The motors are a little high but they are running ok. We jumped on late on Sunday, around 10 and shot out front. The viz was well over 100', it was incredible. We shot a few big mangrove snapper and Patrick shot this awesome black grouper at 63'. Not bad for a 16 year old. Around 2pm we headed into 8' of water or so and Stevie and Rich pulled 6 lobster and we headed home. The boat ran great but I am nowhere near used to how quiet the motors are or the RPM range. I've got about 6 hours on them now, need to get passed the 10 hour mark to cruise above 4,000 to get a better handle on them.

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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby John Hughes » August 9th, 2016, 4:10 am

castronova wrote:
John Hughes wrote:Impressive you're doing all that work yourself JP!


To me it's somewhat necessary. If you are doing long range trips you owe it to yourself and your crew to know how the boat works. If you pay people to do everything and don't understand how the boat works you will not be in a good position when things go wrong. Even if I had a ton of money I would still do 90% of this myself. None of it is hard, especially with resources like thehulltruth.com and youtube. Almost any install or repair can be found. Then its just a matter of tools and patience.



... and beer.


Smart!! The importance of being able to troubleshoot and fix issues when things go sideways is super important as things always go sideways at the worst times out there.

Nice job on the sea trial. That's a great grouper for your 16yr old friend!
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby chris oak » August 9th, 2016, 9:06 am

man JP that's awesome work!!! How hard was it to run the cables for the motor?
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » August 9th, 2016, 9:19 am

Well I'm not sure if you mean battery cables or throttle/shift. I have electronic throttle and shift so there are no cables anymore. Just one single wire harness the gauge of an extension cord. That harness controls throttle, shift, fuel flow, diagnostics, trim, etc. Every function. From my console there are PVC rigging tubes about 2.5" I.D. that go from inside into the bilge along the stringers. So same with the batteries, they're in the console. Use a pull string to pull them through the tube and into the bilge then use wire harness hangers and screw them into the stringers and hold them in place nice and tight back to the motors. It's really easy actually. The hardest part is contorting yourself inside the bilge compartment to use two hands to work since there are multiple pumps, float switches, and a glassed in transducer in the way.

I have been planning on taking more interior photos to show the work. I'll do that today.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Westbury » August 9th, 2016, 10:17 am

Fantastic job JP!
Love those white zukes
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » August 10th, 2016, 3:40 am

Thanks. I created a thread in the DIY section for the boat as to not take away from the spearfishing on this thread. You can see it here.
http://www.spearingforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=5933
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Westbury » August 10th, 2016, 6:31 am

oops, Sorry JP
I got crossed up with the threads.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » August 10th, 2016, 12:13 pm

Westbury wrote:oops, Sorry JP
I got crossed up with the threads.


Yeah, no problem. I was mainly letting everyone who is subscribed know there are more boat details over there. I also through up the current fuel burn numbers. Which I believe will only get better.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » August 23rd, 2016, 3:34 pm

Second real trip with the Zukes, this trip to the Fort has been planned for about 3 months or longer. The weather ended up being spectacular. I switched to some new Mercury Bravo 1 4-blades for the trip. Running out at 2.2 mpg with 4 guys, overnight gear, 185 gallons of fuel and 440 pounds of ice. Pretty unreal. I wasn't expecting much in way of fish. Figured it would be a little here and there. Usually in late August and September the water is so hot the fish are really scarce. If you don't focus trips on the adventure and only on fish you will be disappointed. Lesson learned.

I was surprised how good I felt diving considering I have dove 1 day in the past 2 months or so. My first dive was 70', followed by 80' followed by 86' at a spot about 93' deep. The viz was pretty good on the bottom but only shot one red grouper. We went to the dog house and Stevie and I shot a pair of about 14# dog snapper at 83'. The fish were plentiful but the sharks and jewfish were getting crazy and we weren't seeing any grouper. You couldn't see the diver from the surface either so we went for clear water. And that is exactly what we got. The bank was, per usual, about 80 - 100' of viz. We dove 55 - 80' of water the rest of the afternoon picking off some really nice hogfish. The spot I have with lots of big grouper was empty of them. There was still tons of life though.

Day two we went shallow and dove the 45 - 60' stuff. We picked off another 5 hogs or so but didn't see a single black grouper. Very strange. I was packed up ready to go dive somewhere else when the last guy in the water saw a grouper. Then 3. Then 6. Then more. All on one rock about 30'x15'x 3' tall. They were all going in and out of holes. We ended up spending about 2 hours there pulling 4 black grouper out of holes at 53' in gin clear water. The largest was about 30#. We had plenty of daylight left but decided it was time for beer and the long ride home.

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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Straz » August 23rd, 2016, 7:37 pm

Sick trip JP
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Bill McIntyre » August 24th, 2016, 7:43 am

Today's New York Times has an article about your spot.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/28/trave ... below&_r=0
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby greekdiver » August 24th, 2016, 3:51 pm

Bill,

Stay off our spots!
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » August 24th, 2016, 5:29 pm

Pretty cool. Right where we sleep. Unbelievable place.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » October 7th, 2016, 7:09 am

Been a little dead around... Hellooo?!?!?

Got out again 2 weekends ago. We threw a Hail Mary, that is for sure. The weather broke in epic fashion. There was a forecast of 5 days variable wind. Earlier in the year I bought 6 15 gallon drums for extra fuel. There are some wrecks I have numbers too that are about 120 miles west of Key West, 40 miles passed the Dry Tortugas. This was not the moon to make the trip but I doubted I would get the weather to go again. I got a few troops together who would undertake the adventure. This is not your simple overnighter. You have to take at least 400#'s of chum and just as much ice. You need to pack light and take a ton of fuel. One of my good buddies Steve was all in and offered up his ride. I usually insist in taking my own boat but when going out this far bigger is always better and he has a 34 fountain that holds 360 gallons of fuel. This was a no brainer. We filled up the fuel tanks and gathered up about 500# of chum. Got everybody in order over about 3 days and where ready to rock. It was nice having that weight and being able to cruise at 39 mph with the step hull. We left at 4:30 am on Friday.


That was a big build up to basically what was a disappointing swing for the fence. There are always wahoo on this wreck though, which is why we went there. We chummed for 2 hours before we suited up. Got into the water over the wreck that is in 240'. But unfortunately even after 100+ pounds of sandballs going straight down there were not big snapper or grouper up in the top 100'. There were tons of yellowtail, some AJ's, horse eye jacks, etc. Then after 10 minutes I hear shot off to my side. I see a shaft fly and a wahoo missed. I throw a flasher, it sinks only about 5' but the hoo is swimming away. I dive down to not lose my flasher with no air, the wahoo turns a little but is about 30' away. I kicked toward him but couldn't close any ground. He was somewhat sideways but way too far now. I pulled the trigger knowing damn well I had no air and no chance to hit him. Thats exactly what happened.

We stayed and chummed for another hour or so and everyone was disappointed and wrestless at this point. It was only 12:30 and the crystal clear waters of Tortugas bank was only 20 miles away. We decided to head for the deep reef where there would be 100' of vis and reef fish galore. Again, exactly what happened. Three of the 5 of us had never dove these areas so I thought it was cool to take them there. I was content with leaving plan A. We had epic vis and there was a good amount of fish for September. The water was surprisingly chilled. I mean just a chill on the skin with just a skin on or a 1.5mm. But it's usually 90+ degrees in September with no fish shallow. We picked off some nice hogs, grey snapper, and I ended day one with a nice grouper I shot at around 82' or so.

The next day we went to some classic shallow tortugas reefs. It was beautiful with 80+ foot of vis in 50' of water. We shot a lot of nice hogs and I got another black in a rock I have marked that can hold up to 10 of them. All in all it was an amazing trip and for the few who hadn't been there it was truly amazing and you can see it on their face. We took time to take a few photos as well. Enjoy.


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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » January 11th, 2017, 12:28 pm

Haven't been here in a while. I haven't gotten out to dive very much and have been plenty busy at work and with the tournament. Otherwise just been trying to not to push it with the mediocre winter weather and save my self some fuel money and boat expenses.

I did get out before Christmas, took a look for some wahoo but the water was very green so decided to go to the reef. Struggled for most of the morning without seeing much. Got onto the shallowest part of the outside reef and there was a black grouper off to my side less than 10 feet from the surface. When the winter comes in they get into spawning/territorial mode they always come to check you out and get more curious. I duck and dove and he turned down and dove with me. As he got to the bottom he just stuck his head in this little ledge with his back 1/3 sticking out. I didn't breath for a full bottom dive, thought I'd shoot with him near the surface so I was out of air. I saw him trying sneak in and saw another exit. In the past couple weeks I was out and saw tons of huge blacks and all of them kept shooting out of exit holes.

I thought, for the first time ever, I'm shooting this fu$&er in the tail. So I lined up real quick on the fat part where I knew I could hold but not damage useful filet and shot. Had my dive buddy come over and grabbed him thrashing and pulled him to the surface. 20# fish in the box. After about 30 more minutes by dive buddy quit. This seems to be a pattern with some of these guys who don't see tons of fish all over. So I kept diving.

I did a drift on a really shallow reef after that. Came up to 14' and was 30' on the outside. Again, nothing. I was drifting with my friends 15 year old nephew and told him lets just keep going into the sand. So we drifted off the reef into sandy bottom to look for mutton snapper. I went to the bottom at 30' and just swam along it looking horizontally. After 2 of those dives I come up on a solitary coral rock, about 4' circle. Looking straight at it this giant black shadow shoots inside of it out of my peripheral. Wow. Well I knew it was shallow so it looked big but I knew it was a big fish too. Got a light and it wouldn't turn on, dead batteries. Went back down and it was so big its tail was sticking out of the hole, it couldn't fit all the way in the rock. I found a hole on top and could only see the pectoral flapping because of the white sand background so I shot where I knew I'd get a good hold. Thing went nuts. I came up and told the boy I shot it. He asked if I needed a second shot (which I didn't) and before I could answer he dove down and stoned the grouper. While you would think that is a good thing, let the kid learn... not really. He shot the fish through the head... through a different hole. So now we have a 35# black shot through two separate holes. Needless to say it took me an extra 35 minutes, jamming his head out of the small hole, pushing the second shaft all the way through, unclipping it, pushing the fish back in, then twisting it around, and bringing it back through the hole I shot it in. The kid knew what he did and learned his lesson but damn that made me tired. We finished the day with 2 nice blacks. That I had to share with 5 people because... they're lazy.

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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » January 11th, 2017, 12:36 pm

I went out one more time after that on a Thursday late after work. Had a driver and one of my buddies I've dove with for a long time. We worked over 15 miles of shoreline looking for wahoo. In that morning and the day before there were at least 25 wahoo shot by people I knew. Of course I had to work. Got out at about 3 pm just to give it a shot. Every bit of water was dead green from the outgoing tide out to about 150'. After a few hours, we gave up. The drive that came with my is a local charter captain. We brought a few lines and lures.

Started to head back to what would be a straight shot back into Key West as we were up to the east. After less than 5 minutes we caught a small black fin tuna, just enough to share for dinner. Through out a few more naked balyhoo, in 10 more minutes we had a double header on Sailfish. One ripped line and ended up completely straightening an 8/0 hook. The other we landed and got some photos of. Not a bad place to live where the options are so endless. What a great afternoon.

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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » March 8th, 2017, 5:56 am

Been a busy winter for me. Haven't dove quite as much as I usually do and I'm super out of shape. There was a rare winter opening to make a run about 3 weekends ago. I was chomping and got the crew together for a one day Tortugas trip. When I don't get to go often I rather burn the fuel and make the run to the promise land with my limited time.

This was a one day trip, on a Sunday. Luckily Monday was a holiday so we could stay out all day and clean up the next. We were hoping for clear water in the shallow stuff in the Gulf but got a report late on Saturday that the water was super green and cold everywhere, even 70 miles into the gulf. We decided to go Atlantic from that report even though grouper is closed. We ran all the way to Tortugas bank, 84 miles one way as a crow flies for the first spot. We spent most of the day there. The water there is 99% of the time crystal clear, like 120' vis minimum. When we got there even that water was green. Not to say the vis was horrible though. We could see the outline of the rocks in 80' but no fish. It was dive-able but definitely cold for us, down near 70*.

We ended up pulling off a great trip with amberjack up to 60#'s, multiple hogfish over 9#'s a nice dog and mutton snapper, and a cooler full of other misc. great catches. We had to hightail it home as we left the Tortugas waters around 5pm and had 56 miles to the channel. We cruised in around 43 mph which was pretty fun, while drinking a bottle of Papa's Pilar. We're damn spoiled!

We hit up a shrimp boat anchored in the Gulf on the way home. The owner has been running shrimp boats out of Key West for decades. He employed my Portuguese grandfather since the 80's. My grandfather did one job from 13 years old until the 90's when he retired, make or repair shrimp nets from Portugal, Texas, Tampa, until he settled in Key West. The owner, Ricky, sold us some individually frozen 16-20 key west pink shrimp that hadn't even been salted yet. It was a great experience, I probably hadn't seen the guy since I was a young teenager.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Freeryde » March 9th, 2017, 4:29 pm

Hahahahahahaha!! your idea of "green" water is much different than ours here in CA. 80' vis and 70 degrees is the best we can hope for :D
Also I couldn't see any of your pics. That's ok though. Since the vis here is 6-8 inches and 56 degress your pics would probably cause me to jump into the freeway
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Bill McIntyre » March 9th, 2017, 6:18 pm

I can't see them either.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » March 10th, 2017, 5:48 am

Photos uploaded instead of hosted. Google plus has become a really shitty host site for photos all of the sudden.

Freeryde wrote:Hahahahahahaha!! your idea of "green" water is much different than ours here in CA. 80' vis and 70 degrees is the best we can hope for :D
Also I couldn't see any of your pics. That's ok though. Since the vis here is 6-8 inches and 56 degress your pics would probably cause me to jump into the freeway


hahaha. I understand the relevance. We did have good vis but it's also weird when you can almost see 80' but the water is super green tinted. The reason I mentioned it is because we make that 85 mile run just for clear water so it's a little disappointing when the vis isn't 150'. Which is pretty funny too.

Unfortunately I've been a very lazy and grumpy diver. I took the GoPro mounts off my gun and didn't snap a single photo this trip. We had a school of probably 100 plus Permit on one rock and there was a group of 5 all over 50#'s. Tanks! But I've just told myself I'm just diving for me to get dinner and have fun. No hassle with cameras and catching every damn angle of everyone. Less batteries to charge, less to pack and carry. It's actually been a relief. In about 2 months though I'll be living on the water with my boat behind the house on the canal. A dream come true, and the hassle will be non existent then.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » May 31st, 2017, 12:36 pm

I know you guys have missed me, right....

It's summer, thank God. Been dying for warm air and water. Not like you Cali guys are dying for it, much different than that. haha. It finally calmed down here as we have had some serious spring winds with no chance to run west if dive at all. First chance I got, I took. 5 of us went to the Tortugas for an overnighter. We crushed it. The water was not crystal clear like it should be the next two months but it was very diveable. Harry and my friend Juan from Miami came down and I took a youngin, Patrick who's 17 y.o. with us. He dove great as well and happened to be a great driver and helper overall for a multi-day trip. I thought he'd lose interest really quick to be honest.

We ended up with a limit of black grouper and amberjack, 5 each, about 8 hogfish, idk 12-15 snapper with the muttons in the 12-14# range and 3 dogs in the 15 - 18 pound range. Overall it was one hell of a fish box. I think the final count was 33 gallon bags of fillets. I also kept 5 big collars from the inspiration on this board. I will not be throwing those away ever again.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Bill McIntyre » May 31st, 2017, 1:15 pm

You piss me off.

BTW, I can't see the photos.

But that's probably for the best, because you'd piss me off even more. :)
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » June 1st, 2017, 4:32 am

I don't know what the deal is with these pictures but there was no way I could not piss you off Bill. They are attached.

FYI, thanks for the knife sheath. I put those cable cutters in them with a bungee for this trip for my first use. They still fell out and into the abyss. :confusion-shrug:
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Bill McIntyre » June 1st, 2017, 5:50 am

Weird. When I said I couldn't see the photos I was on my desktop but now I'm seeing them in my phone. And they do piss me off.

Sorry about your shears. I haven't tried to carry mine since I still haven't put cable on a gun, but I was afraid they might be hard to keep from getting away.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » June 1st, 2017, 7:18 am

They were hosted before which seems to never work anymore so I attached them which is why you can see them now.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby greekdiver » June 1st, 2017, 9:58 am

Awesome trip! Fish collars were just simply amazing. That was probably the best tasting fish I have had. And it was amberjack :rofl:
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby dam » June 1st, 2017, 11:08 am

God damn, JP. Your thread is killing me. For some reasons, I totally forgot about it until now. That picture of you with the cigar is baller as fuck! I gotta say your photography is stellar as well. It's gotten even better.

See, Harry? Told you amberjack was the shit. I could shoot them all day. :hsughr:
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby greekdiver » June 1st, 2017, 12:21 pm

dam wrote:God damn, JP. Your thread is killing me. For some reasons, I totally forgot about it until now. That picture of you with the cigar is baller as fuck! I gotta say your photography is stellar as well. It's gotten even better.

See, Harry? Told you amberjack was the shit. I could shoot them all day. :hsughr:


I cant imagine how tasty grouper collars will be. :D
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » June 2nd, 2017, 5:06 am

I think I'll be cooking the grouper tonight. Definitely going to smoke it again before grilling it.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby greekdiver » June 2nd, 2017, 6:43 am

castronova wrote:I think I'll be cooking the grouper tonight. Definitely going to smoke it again before grilling it.


Being in the restaurant business all my life, I wouldn't change one thing. I like when I try certain foods, and I am like this can't get better than what it is. :eusa-clap:
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Westbury » June 2nd, 2017, 6:46 am

Killer report JP!
When you do an overnighter, do the park rangers let you guys sleep on the island?
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby greekdiver » June 2nd, 2017, 9:44 am

Yes they let you sleep on the island. A lot of people camp there. We prefer to stay on the boat.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Bill McIntyre » June 5th, 2017, 4:19 pm

castronova wrote:
FYI, thanks for the knife sheath. I put those cable cutters in them with a bungee for this trip for my first use. They still fell out and into the abyss. :confusion-shrug:


Are you going to get another pair of cutters? I was looking through my junk today and ran across a couple of sheaths for Sea Snips. I must have thrown away the snips long ago, but one of these sheaths might hold those cutters a little better. If you want one, let me know and I'll put it in the mail.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » June 6th, 2017, 7:32 am

Hey Bill, I actually purchased 2 pair to start in case I lost one or if they didn't do well with salt exposure. I was thinking something like exactly this would be better. If you are ok parting with it I will try it out. I really appreciate it.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » June 6th, 2017, 7:43 am

Westbury wrote:Killer report JP!
When you do an overnighter, do the park rangers let you guys sleep on the island?


Thanks. Yes, as Harry mentioned you can camp on the grounds in a certain sodded area and near the South West Beach. You cannot camp inside the Fort though as it closes at sunset. We have been sleeping on the boat the last few trips. When it's a hardcore dive trip it just makes things easier and saves time in the morning so you don't have to clean up so much stuff. Also, there are slips there but only for Florida Wildlife and Fed. Park use so you have to anchor off the beach bimini style. It's not the end of the world but then I'm the one up all night worrying about my boats anchors and you have to wade in through waist deep water after you've showered where on the boat you shower and just dry off. We have also had squalls come through blowing 40+ and dislodge the boat from anchor having to get up and swim out at 2am and save it before it rammed the pilings. That is never fun.

Here is a Google Earth overhead view. When we sleep in the boat we anchor down where the sail boats are moored.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Bill McIntyre » June 6th, 2017, 7:47 am

The more I think about it the less likely I am to use cable anyway. We don't have reefs or rigs to cut mono and I don't think I'll get to Baja again so I might as well send you a sheath. I'll still have the other one if I decide I need it.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby dam » June 6th, 2017, 9:24 am

Man that's gotta be the coolest place one can camp at. I would wake up feeling like a god damn hero.. or a convict, but badass regardless!
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » June 6th, 2017, 1:35 pm

dam wrote:Man that's gotta be the coolest place one can camp at. I would wake up feeling like a god damn hero.. or a convict, but badass regardless!


It is that badass. I don't spend enough time walking around it to be honest. We usually dive until we can't move and by the time I hit the beach it's time to cook and pour a rum and coke.

Anytime you want to go get a hold of me and fly out.
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby Alex Ray » June 6th, 2017, 2:00 pm

I'd feel like a pirate waking up anchored offshore of that fort. So rad.


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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby dam » June 8th, 2017, 10:01 am

castronova wrote:
dam wrote:Man that's gotta be the coolest place one can camp at. I would wake up feeling like a god damn hero.. or a convict, but badass regardless!


It is that badass. I don't spend enough time walking around it to be honest. We usually dive until we can't move and by the time I hit the beach it's time to cook and pour a rum and coke.

Anytime you want to go get a hold of me and fly out.

I'll hold you to this, JP! :romance-threesome:
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby John Hughes » June 23rd, 2017, 4:28 am

So bitchen, thanks for continuing to update this JP!
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Re: Key West and Beyond...

Postby castronova » August 15th, 2017, 10:32 am

Well another year planning a trip to have Amadeo come over and another success. I honestly told a few people early in the week it looked like all my Fort trips were over for the year, there was a hurricane off in the distance making for 25 knot wind forecast. I thought it was over. Then came Tuesday and it lifted to the North. I told Amadeo the trip was on and now it's history.

Amadeo, my good friend Rich McChesney, and I are the originators of the Key West Wahoo Shootout. Since that time we have become great friends and part of that tournament was to have Amadeo come to Key West for the event. Amadeo could not make it down this year so we just saved that ticket for a time when we could go to the Tortugas. Rich has a 2 year old and his wife is also pregnant so it's been tough for him to get out as well but he made sure to make the time for this trip. My good friend I played baseball with at University of Florida with came down too. He was on last trip and left a sport tube and some other gear on accident so I told him he might as well come get it when we can dive. His wife is also pregnant as well as mine.

I set this trip up to be different than those before. I wanted to slow down spread the exploration. I never take the time to set-up fishing and never snorkel the area because I've always killed fish and can't go in the boundaries. This time I was going to take photos and fish outside the diving. We had two boats tag along, Steve Bennet (famous for being saved by Cameron's fin shot) a good friend who was down with his family and a friend and engineer I hire through the City for wastewater projects. He had his wife and 10 y.o. son.

We went into the boundaries straight from Key West and got a boat permit to go snorkel. We went to a wreck in 20' of water. It was a lumber transport that wrecked there in 1907. The sailing ship had an iron hull, 3 mast, and was 261' long. It was definitely something I'm glad I did. There were 6 - 10# hogfish just swimming all over. Tropical fish covered every inch of the wreck. Groupers and Mutton snapper came in and out at will. It was not particularly clear for that shallow but good enough. Steve had his brothers and parents and Sean and his son had a blast seeing these large fish you just don't witness in near Key West.

Overall the trip was well rounded and an absolute blast. I won't summarize each day because you are probably already bored at this point. We ended up with a ton of fish even though it started really slow. We did not land a single fish on spear the first day. Late, near sunset, I decided the diving sucked so we went and yellowtailed. A legal yellowtail snapper is 12" to the end of the pinched tail. We caught 16 yellowtail from 20" - 25!" Beasts of deliciousness for the species and so fun to catch. We ended up fishing a few more times when the sharks got bad and that got us about 5 more red groupers too which was awesome. It was a good change of pace.

The night sky at the tortugas is very similar to Baja. We had no idea about the meteor shower until we were cooking dinner on the Fort and someone told Seans wife about it. We brushed it off and took the boat out to sleep on the hook. We sat around for a few hours drinking rum and cokes and then a few beers to slow things down. All the sudden a freaking meteor crosses the night sky. It was absolutely astonishing. For the next few hours Amadeo and I kept threatening to chug another beer for each meteor and we did, until I had to put my foot down as to not drown diving the next day. That is an night I will never forget.

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Last edited by castronova on August 15th, 2017, 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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