“Do you want to work on the Premium Time this summer?” I never really thought about it when I made them the offer. All I knew is that they were extraordinary people and we always had special days when we were together. “All you need to do is enroll in a drug testing program and you’re on.” To be considered “crew” on a Key West charter vessel, a crew member has to be enrolled in a drug testing program in case of an accident. The first step for the Coast Guard investigation after an accident is a mandatory drug test of the entire crew. Within days they were enrolled and ready for the summer………..but they wanted more, much more.
Amanda and Emily Gale have always been swimming against the tide their entire lives it seems. Sometimes due to circumstances beyond their control and other times because they craved a challenge. Either way, they’ve always pushed harder than most in some of the most unorthodox arenas. Identical twins born prematurely with serious health obstacles wouldn’t fit the mold of highly decorated collegiate track and field athletes -- especially competitive pole vaulters. Full ride scholarships and international news stories lend credence to their incredible accomplishments against the greatest of odds so it wasn’t much of a surprise when they decided to concentrate on getting their captain’s licenses while riding along on the Premium Time. The Gale Force Project at FishMonster University began…….
The eyebrows were raised and the predictions were common. There was no way these two were going to make it through the entire summer aboard one of the busiest charter boats in the Florida Keys. How could these two young women from Ft. Lauderdale handle such a rigorous and physical schedule? Why would they want to?
FISHMONSTER UNIVERSITY LESSON NUMBER ONE: Never approach the dock faster than you want to hit it.
This one was easy for Amanda and Emily to understand. Years of experience on their own private boats helped, but a twin diesel sportfish vessel at the busiest dock in the Florida Keys is likened to being on stage………every day. A cracking of fiberglass or a full throttle recovery would be witnessed by a thousand people or more most days, especially at happy hour. There was no such thing as failure to dock…..you have to do it right every time. Both Emily and Amanda were required to dock the Premium Time multiple times……….during happy hour.
A++ for the Gale Force Twins…
FISHMONSTER UNIVERSITY LESSON NUMBER TWO: Maintain the asset (BOAT= Break Out Another Thousand)
A full time Key West charter vessel that runs 300+ trips a year is always broken in some way. From the head pump that won’t shut off to the A/C leaking onto the slightly overheating port motor, everything needs to be considered and watched. Along with mechanical failures there is the scheduled oil changes. Both Amanda and Emily were able to experience the joys of oil changes in a hot engine room with outside temperatures above 90°. The Gale Force Twins get the highest possible grade for this lesson. They actually seemed to enjoy the maintenance. Did I mention they weren’t…normal?
A++ for the Gale Force Twins
FISHMONSTER UNIVERSITY LESSON NUMBER THREE: Do not DIP THE RIGGERS!
Twenty knots of southeast wind offshore of Key West with an eastbound current can turn the placid South Atlantic ocean into a washing machine. Trolling with five lines and a full crew in rough seas takes some skill and in some cases -- lots of courage. Most recreational anglers never see these types of conditions, but charter vessels out of Key West rarely cancel due to weather. “If it’s blowin’ we’re goin!” is the battle cry. One of the most sobering situations for any captain is when you roll over to one side and actually submerge your outriggers! Both Amanda and Emily dealt with borderline dangerous seas especially during the sudden development of severe thunderstorms. They never even blinked. In fact, this lesson was more of a field trip for the Gale Force Twins. They loved the violence of mother nature.
A ++ No riggers were dipped : )
FISHMONSTER UNIVERSITY LESSON NUMBER FOUR: Find fish…….Catch fish
This isn’t an eco tour, finding the right kind of fish offshore of Key West every day is a challenge. We always catch fish but finding quality fish is the daily goal. Emily and Amanda worked hard to gain the skills needed to recognize offshore opportunities. A “FISH Flash” out of the corner of your vision could mean the difference for the day. The bird off the left rigger suddenly dropping and dipping could mean feeding fish. The floater 1/2 a mile away may lead to an experience of a lifetime for your anglers. The color contrast between weeds in green water compared to the same weeds in blue water could mean the difference in finding migrating fish. This lesson is one that never gets completely mastered but will serve the Gale Force Twins well. A reason to keep at it.
A++ for effort
FISHMONSTER UNIVERSITY LESSON NUMBER FIVE: The customer is always…AWESOME!
They’re on vacation....
Boys will be boys and girls will be girls... especially in Key West. We are in the true melting pot of America and being creatures of the mainland, Amanda and Emily had their share of new culture experiences aboard the Premium Time. Bachelor parties, Duval Crawl remnants, locker room talk, seasickness -- you name it, they saw it. Managing as a captain in such a diverse place isn’t for everyone, only chameleons need apply. Putting aside judgment is an easy concept until you have to actually do it. Keeping your morals and values intact is an art form. The Gale Force Twins are……ARTISTS.
A++ for customer service
With each passing day the Gale Force experience grew into one of the most rewarding memories I’ve ever had. To see two young women blaze through one of the most demanding schedules all the while studying, testing and completing the application for their master captain’s license was humbling and inspiring. The FishMonster University Gale Force project is complete but don’t worry…….. the Gale Force Twins won’t stay satisfied for long.
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