Beer and Loathing with Capt Guy

image linking to 100 Top Captain and Guide Sites

Before daybreak on a bluebird January Saturday in 1991, Doris, Capt. Guy and I headed to the ledge off St Augustine on the third voyage of the then brand new Tuner. We were accompanied by Wahoo, the coolest pelagic pointing cocker spaniel of all time.

The Internet was just a gleam in Al Gore's eye back then. NOAA weather radio was calling for 10-15 knot winds and 1-3 foot seas on Friday evening. There was talk of a cold front pushing through early Sunday morning.

Conditions were near ideal that morning, glassy calm seas and willing fish. By 11am we had virtually filled a 400qt box with dolphin, wahoo and blackfin tuna. Capt. Guy was a good fisherman and showed us some new tricks. Don Combs, the owner of C&H lures, was our only companion 60 miles offshore on his 43 foot Bertram Sharkbait. I told Don via the vhf that we had about all the fish we could carry and would be headed in around noon.

Almost as an afterthought, I tuned the radio to the Jax weather channel. In 1991, there was no synthetic universally unappealing voice on the radio. The weather reader was speaking in a slow Georgia drawl. The first words I heard were "Winds at Mayport are North at 33 knots with gusts to 38 knots." The photos below will attest that at the ledge, we had no reason to suspect the weather was deteriorating back inshore.

Capt. Guy and I agreed we needed to get on the good foot towards the inlet. While he clipped our lines and stowed the rods, I alerted the Sharkbait to the situation inshore. We were on plane headed west in less than sixty seconds. At 55 miles out, the wind freshened. At 45 miles out, the seas got nasty with the tops blowing off 6 foot waves coming straight out of the north. At 40 miles out, I pointed the bow into the 10-12 foot seas and consulted Capt. Guy.

In my previous 15 years offshore, Iíd never encountered seas this large unless they were dead on my nose. Capt. Guy told me to run 'em on the beamÖhe could have been speaking Greek. He took the wheel and showed me how to run parallel to the cresting waves and push the bow over at the top. All was fine until a large wave grabbed the bow and turned us south. We surfed down the face of the wave to the trough where the bow dug in to starboard. I felt my stomach drop to my boots. The wave caught us and tried itís best to broach the new Mirage. The ocean was snotty and getting worse but these tall waves had no shoulders yet and lacked the energy to roll the boat. I recall telling Capt. Guy that I did not wish to share that experience with him again.

I took the wheel shortly afterward and we ground our way towards the hill. At 30 miles out, there is not a dry surface. The wind is driving seaspray completely over the boat. Doris and Wahoo are huddled on the port side under what little protection the t-top and small front curtain offered. The US Coast Guard decides a stormy Saturday afternoon would be the perfect time to perform routine maintenance on the loran system serving the East coast....the loran lost its signal and is useless so we dead reckoned from there.

Don on the Sharkbait has been keeping tabs on us and at 25 miles out, he passes about 3 miles to the south. The Bertram is taking a beating as well but is able to make much better time. An hour or so later, the loran locks back on the signal and shows we are 10 miles offshore and 7 miles north of the inlet. The sun is setting as we turn to the south. The Tuner begins to eat up the following sea. Don calls on the radio to say the inlet is really bad and we should consider staying out for a while. He has been a reassuring voice on the radio during the trip in and very nice to think of a little boat he did not knowÖ.butÖ.itís January, the wind is blowing 35 knots, the waves are breaking at around 12 feet, itís almost dark and the wind chill is in the upper 30s and dropping fastÖ.we agree we are not staying outside.

The Tuner is new and has a vhf, bottom machine and balky loran. There is no GPS. There is no radar. The St. Augustine range marker is barely visible above the waves. Capt. Guy uses the handheld spotlight to show me the markers. Iíve gained a great deal of confidence in the hull on the way in and she performs very well in the inlet, a washing machine created by a strong outgoing tide and a fierce north wind.

There is an intense feeling of relief when we get to the relative calm behind the jetties. Our internal gyros have been put to a severe test and stay revved up for quite a while. Later that evening, I snatched the shower curtain off the wall to keep from falling out of the tub. Itís 8pm when we pull the boat out. Doris retrieved a thermos of coffee from the truck, still warm and delicious. Wahoo hopped off the boat, took a long doggie wizz and hopped in the truck, tail wagging the whole time, ready for the next adventure.

Capt. Guy is one salty, globe trotting dude and gives freely from his experience. He looks more like Hemingway every time I see him. I've learned a lot from him over the years and shared some good times. I canít begin to tell you how happy I am he was with us on that January day. Iím glad he found this site and hope he stays around.

If you're looking for a great charter experience out of St. Augustine, expecially if you have kids...check out Capt Guy

Copyright by Capt. Wiley Horton