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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
That you would run 20 miles off shore South East off the coast of Florida ?
 
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Ok, transparency time...

I’ve been 40 miles off the nature coast in a 15’ R/T skiff. The skiff was built by me and my old partner and was foam filled like a carolina skiff. It was basically a Carolina skiff 17 minus 2’. Was it smart? Hell no! I did pick my days very carefully though and planned accordingly. Float plan, epirb from my big boat, had flush mount vhf as well as a hand held in the jump bag.

It sure was fun pulling in to the pirates cove ramp in that little skiff and plopping grouper, kingfish, mahi, 5lb mangroves, monster sheepies, and the occasional spiny crustacean or 10! Those were meat trips yes, don’t flame me because I like fish! These trips were rare and practically non existent today. These days I stay inside and keep only what I can eat that night.
 

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You've actually asked a question I know a bit about... Yes, you can venture offshore in something that will turn life threatening on you if the weather turns ugly (and no matter how nice it is at dawn... that's not what the afternoon will be like...). I used to take a lightweight 16' Starcraft skiff, set up as a bonefish skiff in 1976 offshore to do a bit of sailfishing (my only excuse is that I was a lot younger then - and pretty ignorant about what the possibilities were...). I'd never do that again - and will tell anyone that it's a very bad idea, period...

Now for the better news... in the early eighties I picked up a stolen and stripped 1976 baby SeaCraft for very little money and spent two years completely restoring it.. The baby was 18' 10" long with generous freeboard (higher gunnels than a skiff...), with a hull weight of 1400 lbs, and a bottom design (called a variable deadrise hull) that was meant for the ocean... I was in a competitive fishing club back then and this kind of hull was what many of us looked for. The old Tropical Anglers Club had an outing each month that might have been anywhere from Key West (a favorite destination in winter...) to Stuart - or all the way across to Marco Island and points north... So you needed something really versatile...

Once she was restored I got a commercial hook and line ticket and fished as much as 30 miles offshore solo when I wasn't wreck fishing or drifting the edge... No, I didn't do very well -but could usually count on making my expenses and a bit besides.. I had to sell that hull in the late eighties and to this day wish I hadn't ...

Here's a pic or two... and remember - this the smallest hull I'd want to be well offshore in... Once you're out in blue water - bigger is better - day in and day out...

mid restoration after lots and lots of work.... new trailer
[url=https://imgur.com/pPgm1xs][/URL]
Bill Aman, a club member, had the molds for livewell boxes for this hull (pretty much the same at the stern as the SF20 - the much more common club boat). We set it up with ten rods vertical, along with the standard six rods horizontal, converted the floor livewell into a wet well for lines, nets, etc. The design was strictly a stand up - no seats except the one in front of the console... Later on we added pushpole clips so that I could run the backcountry with her - but you only poled to get up on edges or ease along a downwind drift in shallow areas...

Like I've said -wish I still had her since it was the perfect boat do a bit of everything in....
 

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I've been offshore several times in a 61 Buddy Davis and it wasn't big enough for the 12-foot-plus seas. During the MS Gulf Coast Billfish Classic last month, a 92 Viking stayed at the dock because of the conditions.

Like TigWeld said, if you have to ask, it's a bad idea.
 

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A 27' Proline capsized about 10 miles off St. George Island recently. Seas had been about 3', but a storm came up some distance away and apparently produced some "rogue" 8 footers that turned her over. Fortunately, the crew was able to radio their coordinates that were picked up by another boat that turned around and came to the rescue. Sure there were 3 very grateful fishermen clinging to an overturned hull when the rescuers made their appearance.
 

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I take my boat (18' boat in my signature) out up to 10 miles pretty frequently. My rule is to go and return super early, on days calling for 2-3' (or less) with a period of 6 seconds or more, and no rain in the forecast. Winds must be 10 -15 mph or less. If I see storms on the horizon, I either stay inshore or return inshore if I'm already offshore. Basically, I am way more cautious than I was when I had a 22' offshore boat. That said, I would not take my boat 20 miles out in any scenario. Smallest for me would be a 20ish foot true offshore boat or 22'+ bay boat.
 

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Old school 17 Mako with new generation outboard. I’ve been 16 miles off in my Vantage but would choose the baby Mako any day for offshore unless it is millpond flat. There is a lot to be said for deadrise...
 

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No matter what recommendations you read in this thread about the size boat you should have for offshore... much (maybe everything...) depends on your level of seamanship... and the actual condition of your boat and safety gear...

I’ve been on big boats badly worried about the guy I was working for - and small craft where I wasn’t concerned at all despite the fact that we were in terrible, life-threatening conditions...
 

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No matter what recommendations you read in this thread about the size boat you should have for offshore... much (maybe everything...) depends on your level of seamanship... and the actual condition of your boat and safety gear...

I’ve been on big boats badly worried about the guy I was working for - and small craft where I wasn’t concerned at all despite the fact that we were in terrible, life-threatening conditions...
That's a really good point. I realized I was taking my boat offshore, and as a result, I've upgraded my bilge pumps, my PFDs, carry an anchor now, at least when heading offshore, and invested in a good VHF.
 

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And at the first inkling of anything going south, get the hell out of dodge. Don't wait that few more minutes to see if some weather is coming your way, or if that little hiccup in the motor was a fluke, or your gps is acting funny.
 
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Years ago you could find old time Cuban commercial anglers almost every day fishing their handlines with live bait just off shore of Miami/ Miami Beach in skiffs not much bigger than the one in the picture.. with great clouds of birds wheeling overhead taking the occasional pilchard that wasn't on a hook (and a few that included the hook...and had to be released ).

To give you a good flavor of the skills those old guys possess (after a lifetime's hard work on the water) you'd need to see one guy I can remember, well into his seventies, tossing a net that was at least 12 feet (or bigger) each morning to load his livewells with pilchards out in front of Coconut Grove - or another one handling a sailfish on a handline - then killing it with the only thing at hand - an empty coke bottle as it thrashed around another one of those small open skiffs... As you can guess with the reference about that coke bottle this was early seventies (can't remember the last time I saw a coke bottle anywhere...).

That sort of stuff is why so many were willing to set a drift across 90 miles of open ocean between Cuba and Key West looking for freedom and a better way of life - in a homemade raft with empty milk jugs as floats ( a raft none of us would want to see our kids on at the beach...).

None of this is something I'd recommend but it does point to knowing what you're about - and having the skills to get by... To call us soft these days is pretty accurate. I don't wish hard times on my kids (or grandkids) or anyone else's but it is something to consider - since hard times will come again - you can count on it...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I had the privilege to be out on this :) did some major fish killing !!!

 

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Our forays in a homemade 14' plywood skiff with a 35 Evinrude (including some runs over to Bimini) as kids were certainly the stuff a parent's nightmares are made of, but we survived. Granted, we all had years of experience, and (sorta, from a bulletproof teenager's perspective) knew what we were doing. Oh yeah, we were salty dogs, all right. But what usually gets you is the totally unexpected, essentially impossible, thing that you never even considered might happen. And, as always with me, this is leading up to a tale:

A friend of mine's dad had a big sportfisherman. He and his dad were the consummate anglers, and we fished together frequently. They had a little 12' wooden lappy with a tiller-steered outboard they used as a towed tender on trips to the Bahamas. My friend and I fished a lot out of that little boat. One fine winter's day we were anchored off the south end of Elliott Key in the big boat. We had the tender astern. We'd been there for several days, alternating between offshore and inshore fishing. My friend's dad wanted to run across to the Bahamas, and my friend and I wanted to take the little boat down to Angelfish Key and work some of those channels, out of the wind and the roiled up bay. So the old man went east and we went south. Remember, this was before cellular phones, and we didn't have a radio in the little boat. Back then there wasn't near the traffic down there that one sees now, especially in the winter. We found some pretty water and we caught a mess of fish. Meanwhile the weather got a little rowdy. We started back up toward the anchorage, long before his dad was due back. We were taking a pretty good beating, heading into a stiff wind and a heavy chop when we got out in the open bay. It was wet and cold......... As we smashed through the waves a section of the lapstrake hull, near the centerline of the hull, broke loose. Memory fades, but I'm gonna say maybe 2" wide by 8" or 10" long? Water shot up through the hole. I grabbed a towel and some rope and tried to stop the flow (talk about a thumb in a dike) and my buddy decided that we needed to head for the mainland.

I don't know how far it is from Angelfish Key to Matheson Hammock, but it's gotta be well over 20 miles. I recall we ran an awful long way, well over an hour, with water shooting up through the bottom of the boat; some of it landing in the boat and some of it landing behind the boat. I had my foot over the rope and rags in the hole and I was in a bailing frenzy the whole way. And all this in rough water (My fun meter was pegged. Yep. You betcha!) All the while wondering if more of the hull was going to crater...... Anyway, by the time we approached Matheson Hammock the boat had enough water in it that we had slowed considerably. My host never let off the throttle; it was still WOT all the way to the ramp. And up on to the ramp. Then he shut it down, after we ground to a halt. A modest gathering was present, enjoying the spectacle. Probably the crowning moment was when, after we ground to a halt on the concrete, he stood up, opened the cooler, and grabbed us a couple of bottles of beer. Both of us were obviously too young to drink legally, but neither of us cared at that point. Musta been a real Kodak moment for the spectators.

We were lucky. In the summer that wouldn't have been such a big deal, but being that it was in the winter, during an infrequent cold spell, we could have fared a whole lot worse than we did. I don't think I'd have tried for a marina that far north, but my bud was the skipper and it was his call. A friend in the Coast Guard took care of notifying his dad, and we got someone to come pick us up at Matheson Hammock (we both lived in the Gables). IIRC the old lappy got scrapped and a new fiberglass skiff replaced it.

Now, the odds of that hull cratering like that were obviously something that had never occurred to us. And had it not happened, the trip would likely have been uneventful, with a short, rough and wet ride the worst thing we would have faced. If the hull had been sound the boat would have been more than adequate for the trip.

I wouldn't change a thing about that part of my life. But I certainly wouldn't repeat a lot of the "adventures" a second time, knowing what I do now.
 

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I won’t mention all the stupid stuff I did and survived. I’ll say “I was younger then” and let it go at that.

Wish I’d had something like these forums way back when - and that’s why I speak up like I do...
 
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