There was no indication whatsoever at the beginning of the trip, it was like any other departure. Our anglers were right on time, my con leche was perfect and hot, sitting in my FishMonster Yeti cup next to my electronics. A northeast wind made for a comfortable quartering down sea to the blue water waiting offshore of Key West. Our spirits were high. Just as the color change came into view without the use of the binoculars, it happened. The vibration first and the the slow decent of speed. Something was wrong. The Premium Time had possibly picked up some lobster trap line causing cavitation. I slowed the throttles to idle and put both motors in reverse hoping to clear the problem. Back in gear and throttling up, the vibration returned and the speed didn’t match the RPM’s. We were slipping on the port motor. The transmission was failing.
Sometimes things break on our charter boats, so adjusting to the new normal for the day meant going slower using only the starboard motor primarily for the rest of the trip, not ideal for sure. Luckily the winter offshore bite is close to the reef and within reach of the limping vessel. The fish were cooperative for our crew, but there’s more……
Trolling the reef is common for the Premium Time and part of the winter program. Slowly weaving in, out and over the rock piles at 5 knots produces bites and was the perfect solution for the handicap of a slipping transmission.
One motor in gear and the other resting was the technique for the day.
The downrigger tripped and started peeling line at a steady pace…….lovely. We hit a ghost trap. Shortly thereafter, the downrigger cable started peeling line and locked up, launching the entire assembly into the Atlantic Ocean. Now we not only had a slipping transmission, we were also without one of the most important trolling tools on the boat. Bad to worse……
The reality started to set in that we had a major problem with our totally booked charter vessel. On the slow slog home, calls were made to our mechanics at Marine Diesel of the Florida Keys to schedule the repairs. All the boat yards were still full from post Hurricane Irma repairs, so pulling the boat was a question mark. How are we going to fix the Premium Time if we can’t even get it out of the water? Here’s where things turned…… beautiful.
Somehow, some way, Mark Dejong at Marine Diesel of the Florida Keys on Stock Island was able to convince the Robbie’s Boat Yard crew that we needed to come out of the water ASAP. A new transmission was located quickly and put on a truck headed towards the Florida Keys.
The weather had become fierce to frightening with a 25-30 knot northeas
t blow that forced cancellations and postponements for both the Premium Time and the Reel Deal, leaving the entire crew with nothing to do. A perfect scenario for a bottom painting and waxing session. FishMonster crew bonding at it’s best! We also decided to redo all of the FishMonster and Premium Time graphics that were damaged in the hurricane. Deep Blue Printing at Robbie’s got it all printed and installed within two days. A trip to Cudjoe Sales on Cudjoe Key cured the lost downrigger issue.
We were back in business.
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