Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Shark?! December 27, 2009


Woke up at 7:30.  Matt was calling me.  I needed a ride.  Stan had to come pick me up.  Turns out they went back to the hotel without me.  Grr.  What an interesting life.

Anyway, he picked me up, and we were off to the  hotel to pick up the other go straight to the airport.  I grabbed my flight gear, then was out the door...didn't even have time to brush my teeth or shower or anything.  We were late.  Late late late.  We rolled up to the airport at 9:15 A.M., about a half hour later than we needed to be there.  We found the other guys from the other hotel waiting, so we didn't feel half as bad, but still...things should not go this way!  Again, a life of having four guys in one location...using one car.  For personal (I'll say it again...selfish) reasons.  It is what it is.

Anyway, we had an OK day for flying today.  I headed up to Palm Beach with Matt, and we started on the two remaining flight plans up there.  We were talking with Approach, and they pretty much hate us here.  They just treat us like the biggest nuisance to them...which is quite frustrating.  We talk to them, we make all radio calls, we listen to radio calls...we fly in busy airspaces all the time.  I get so frustrated when someone just doesn't give us the time of day.  We are treated like all other Cessna 172's out there...weekend warriors, etc.  They don't realize we do this FOR OUR JOB.  Hey, I do my flying as best I can...why don't you do your job as best you can?  And we can WORK TOGETHER.  There is no reason why we shouldn't be able to fly in your airspace!!!  It's a Class Charlie for crying out loud!

Anyway, about halfway into my flight plan, Approach called me and said that I would not be able to continue.  Frankly, I know why it happened, too, and it's bogus.  I was on the eastern end of my flight plan, about 2 miles over the ocean.  This put me right into the Approach Corridor for incoming flights into Palm Beach from the north.  No biggie.  Frankly, I see the jets coming in, they (usually) call them out to me, I turn at the EXACT same location each time.  It's NOT THAT HARD.  Well, I had a jet coming in.  Nothing unusual.  I had him in sight.  They eventually saw me.  I was at the end of my line, he was at supposed to be at 5000 feet.  I was at 4500.  I banked into my turn, maybe less than a mile from him.  He passed right at my 12 o'clock as I started my turn.  Well, in my turn, I hear this radio call...

"Approach, we have the lil' guy in sight.  Uh, he made our RA go off,, uhhh...."

"Roger, continue approach, blah blah blah."

I checked my altimeter.  I was right at 4500 feet.  I'll be honest, sometimes I get 100 feet off or so.  It happens.  But I was pegged right at.  Maybe 4520.  But when the jet said that, oh, man, I was NOT happy!  Frankly, 500 feet is REALLY CLOSE, and I'm pretty sure those guys just aren't used to that.  I understand.  But I do not appreciate you saying I'm not at my altitude.  That's a wash.

Well, I was able to do one more line and then start another before Approach came on.  "151, yeah, I am going to have to limit you to 1/4 mile off shore."  He told me this right after he told Matt.  What crap!!!  Frankly, we did NOT have to even be talking to Approach!!!  I was outside their airspace, Matt was above it!  We were literally doing THEM a service (as well as keeping us all safe up in the skies!!!).  We could be flying out there squawking VFR all day if we wanted to.  C'mon, guys, do your job.  We can work together here.

I was sooooooo tempted to just squawk 1200 and keep doing what I was doing.  But the clouds were actually rolling in from the coast.  I am positive I took a couple of pictures of clouds, and they kept creeping in.  Frankly, if I could have continued the flight plan, I would have just squawked 1200 and stayed there.  Listen, if you don't want to help me help you, then you can just deal with me flying out there in your approach corridor.  Agh, I was mad.  But I simply couldn't continue due to the clouds.  In frustration, I DID squawk 1200 and just left to go see if the western flight plans were doable over the Everglades.  They weren't.  So Matt and I headed in.

These controllers really haven't been too helpful.  It's crazy.  Once you get on with them, they are usually pretty good.  But they just don't want us in there.  I don't think they get that we are going to finish this project with their airspace, whether they like it or not.  Let's at least work together, be safe, and get this done.


I flew 2.0 hours today.

Went back to the hotel, called up Sandy, and she came over.  Then at 7:30 that night, we all went out fishing again!!!  I have decided that I am absolutely in love with ocean fishing.  I was catching fish left and right the first hour...I think I had around 9 or so?  Mostly yellow snapper (I think).  I even had a couple of keepers!!!

Sandy wasn't doing so hot.  That kind of made me sad!!!  I wanted her to catch lots!

Then about an hour and a half into it, I got a fairly aggressive bite.  And my line just went!!!  I had something and something big!!!  And the line just kept on going!!!  I was reeling it in, and then it would just run with it!  My drag would squeel!  The fish was running to the back of the boat.  You usually catch one, then reel it right up.  Maybe a minor fight.  But not this time.  This fish was simply running with my line!  I had to start walking to the back of the boat!!!  I would reel it in some more...then lose more line!  I went around Sandy, under Jeremy, over Matt.  And I found myself in the corner of the back of the boat!  One of the guides was there...they had the net!  I joked that I was ready to see the Marlin jump anytime now...he said you never know!  What?!  I was completely being sarcastic...and here he was saying it's a possibility!!!

The drag was too loose, though...and the guide reached over and tightened it up.  And then bam, just like that, the fight was over.  I didn't want to believe it.  But sure enough, nothing was there.  Crap.  I reeled and reeled and reeled and reeled it in.  I was just watching the line build upon itself on my reel.  Wow.  We were just 50 feet deep...pretty easy to reel back in.  I would guess I had probably 300 feet of line out there.  He was just having a hey-day with my line.

I pulled the hook back into the boat to re-bait it.  You have got to be kidding me!!!  My hook had BENT itself out!!!  Once we tightened the drag, the fish just straightened out my hook.  Unbelievable.  I was incredibly (moreso than I would have imagined!) disappointed!  I wanted to know what was on the end of my line!!!  Come back, you, come back!!!

Well, I continued to fish.  And it WAS disappointing.  We had been having some ridiculously good luck on this reef, so we decided to stay there the entire night.  But what was a very productive first hour ended up being a very slow second and third hour.  I did not pull up anything for over an hour after I had that bigg'un.  I didn't like it!!!

In that time, though, another guy had a big fish on the end of his line...someone said it may have been the one I let go!  Ha!  Of course, joking...but who knows?!  He got it all the way up to the boat, and it surfaced...a small shark!  So neat to see right down in the water in front of me.  But just like that, it was gone.  It broke loose.  Crazy!

I LOVE ocean fishing!!!

Then I switched to a different type of bait.  And just like that, I got fish again.  I was pulling up strawberry grouper (calico grouper) as fast I could drop the bait!  So fun.  We were down to just 20 minutes left, though.  I was baiting that hook as fast as I could!  Seriously, as soon as I hit the bottom, then pulled it up a few inches, I had another one!  I loved it!  It was soon time to go, though...but the Captain said we could stay 5 more minutes!  Thank you, Capitan!

Sandy was finally catching a few, too, so I was happy about that!

The guy next to me pulled in an eel at one point.  They just cut the line.  Not worth the risk, the guy said.  Crazy!

Sandy pulled in some crazy fish, too.  The guy took it off the line, then put it up against the boat wall.  It fell off.  ha!  He did it again, and this time it just stuck there!  Sweet!  He took it off, lifted up my sleeve, then stuck the fish against me.  And sure enough, it just stuck there!!!  It had a very rough top of the head...felt kind of cool...but that's what it stuck to me with!  Pretty neat.

I pulled in another poisonous fish...the same one from my last fishing trip.  This time I could see the wound from the guide's wrist...the one that was covered up with a large wrap last time.  The guide again told the story of how he spent seven days in a hospital from the sting.  Yuck.  He said he got MRSA.  Yuck.  I recognized it this time and didn't touch it (again!).

All in all, I just had a lovely time.  I could definitely see myself on the ocean, and frankly, I'm a bit afraid to pick up sailing because I think I'm going to fall in love with it.  I really do have a love for the ocean.

The guys drove home, and Sandy and I went and laid on the beach for about an hour.  It was a bit chilly, but it was still nice to spend some more time with her.  Kind of.  It was a bit awkward.  I had been quiet earlier, not sure why, I just didn't feel like talking!  On the way to go fishing.  Anyway, I was a bit quiet on the way back...just thinking about everything.  She made the comment on the beach that she doesn't think I'm a person who can love.  She just didn't see me as that "type of person."  I never really let go of that thought.  Here is a woman who has known me for a whole two weeks...and already gets the hunch that I can't love well.  <sigh>  Oh boy.  She said I just don't have emotion.

I am a renegade after all.  I chuckle.  Not out of humor, just out of...I don't even know.  I was reminded of the book in Texas I had read just last month about types of men in Texas.  Types of husbands.  One was the "Cowboy"...a man who will never, ever let you get close enough to him...or even open up.  It's funny to me, because out of all of the "types" listed in that book, I resonated with that one the most.  I think by circumstances more than by choice, but the life I have shaped for myself has just made me cold to the world.  To myself.  To feeling?

It's funny, though, because I cried in Sandy's arms just a week and a half ago.  Who knows.

I can't love, huh.  Hmm.

Anyway, I thought about that on the car ride back.  Thought about a lot.  She asked if I was OK.  I guess.

I left the car in front of the hotel with just a good-bye.  Not much else.  It was pretty awkward, pretty weird.  But it was certainly no moment for a hug.  Or kiss.  Or...whatever.  It was just a...umm...all right, good-bye.

Went to bed at 2:30.

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