Sunday, July 23, 2006

Miami trip wrap-up

Yesterday's hunt for a boat went a little better than I had expected. I checked out of the hotel and drove to the Miami Marina about 11 AM. From there I just started looking for anybody who charters. The first place I saw was Reward Party & Fishing.
Behind the window was Captain Wayne Conn. I explained I was looking for a charter to Cay Sal Bank and did he know of anybody who might be able to help me? He nodded and said of course he knew where that was and that he has known of people taking fishing expeditions down there. But, his firm didn't have anything appropriate for such a trip. I gave him my business card and wrote "crazy ham radio operator" on the back. He gave me his card and said he'd check around. I'll follow up with him in a week or so.
It occurred to me that I should probably have business cards made up with the "100 pound DXpedition" logo, my home address, email, phone, call sign, etc. on it. I'll likely make one up later today.
I walked a few paces and found Florida Yacht Charters & Sales and the General manager Bob Everhard. Bob said that he remembered another group a few years ago making the same kind of inquiries about Cay Sal Bank. He seemed pretty positive about being able to find somebody to help but thought it might be more of a 10 day to 2-week trip, not the 7 days I had mentioned. (I reflected on this after the meeting and I believe he has a point.) Again, we exchange cards and I write "crazy ham radio operator" on the back of mine.
After the second successful meeting (IMHO) I took a walk around the marina and looked at all the boats. There were certainly some beauties there! Which of them might be appropriate for this trip, I wondered? On the end of the public pier I see the price of diesel fuel advertised on the pump. Of course it has gone up considerably since the last group made its run at Cay Sal. How much will this increase the cost of the trip?
At this point I'm getting a little warm so I go look for some air conditioning. I find Hopkins & Carter Marine. As I step inside the store I see a display case full of marine radios. I've been wondering how to do the island-to-boat communication and this probably makes the most sense. I should learn more about this when I return to Boston (yet another to do item).
Once I'd cooled off a bit and found a cool bottle of water to down, I began walking towards the ocean. This morning's conversations gave me a great deal to think about. Should I try something more modest in that area before making the Cay Sal Bank trip? Perhaps I should try a place like Dry Tortugas 70 miles west of Key West. Would I do this run with the same team going to Cay Sal? Should these trips be in two separate years?
The quick walk to the water was refreshing but the sun was beating down hard. I had a few hours before I had to make my flight--time enough to walk along the surf but no time for swimming. After walking along the water's edge and taking some pictures I noticed a storm front on the horizon moving towards me. Time to go!
I hustled back to the marina and reached it just as the sky opened up. Good time for lunch, I thought, and settled into a seat at Monty's Raw Bar for some fish & chips. (MMM good!)
When I was finished with lunch I headed off for the airport for that 2 1/2 hour flight back to Boston. We'll see what becomes of my inquiries.


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