When I left town to head to the coast late Thursday afternoon it was 83 degrees with clear sky's. When I hit the middle of Corpus Christi, it turned into Fog. In fact I couldn't even see Roy's as I passed it on SPID. I had never seen fog so thick as it was on top of the Kennedy bridge. It took one hour which is normally about a 20 minute to Port A.
A couple of weeks ago, a buddy asked me go out in a large center console to Boomvang this weekend. He was just waiting for his radar to get put back in order. Meanwhile I booked two spots with Deep Sea Headquarters just in case. The radar unit was not fixed in time, so we arrived at DSH at 5AM. The weather was still foggy, muggy and hot. When we started loading our gear into the Gulf Eagle, the cold front arrived. The temperature dropped and the winds were blowing around 25-30 knots from the North.
We arrived at Hoover about an hour before sunset and began trolling. We picked a number of cudas and then prepared to start jigging for blackfins as the sun set. We did one drift and then were heading back to the floating rig for a second drift. It was now dark. As we were pulling up to the rig and making adjustments for the drift a horrible screeching sound roared out and stopped one of the engines. It took less than one-second to stop the big diesel engines. The guy I was standing next to turned to me and said "That didn't sound good."
The engines would run but the wheels wouldn't turn. Either the gears in the transmissions or something stunk in the wheels. Capt. Keith got us together for a meeting and informed us that we were dead in the water and would wait until sunrise to send the deckhands under the boat to check the wheels. He was in contact with the rig and kept the engines idling to keep the batteries charged so the electronics could continue to operate. Their was a good possibility that whatever the props had grabbed could be cut out and we would be back in business. Basically everything was fine except the wheels wouldn't turn in either direction. The wind was still blowing 25 knots from the North and we were drifting south (away from Port) at a fast rate. The lights were working fine so we continued to fish as we drifted away. This was the beginning of the possibly the longest drift in fishing history.
During the night someone hooked onto a string of nylon at the transom. After pulling on it you could see a short portion of this huge three inch diameter nylon rope. This big chunk of rope wasn't seen by anyone. It just happened to be drifting across the gulf stream slight below the surface. We just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. When the sun rose, and there was enough light, the dockhands were sent under the boat to see if they could free the rope. The huge rope was wrapped very tightly all the way around the wheels and drive shaft on both engines. Not good. At this point we had drifted south around 17 NM from Hoover. Different options came up throughout the day on what would happen next.
Divers were on the way. If they couldn't free us, a boat would have to make to long haul to tow us back. That would have taken a very long time as we were around 155 NM from port and still drifting away. The divers made it to the boat along with a mechanic just before sunset. We had been drifting for about 23 hours. We were probably half way between Hoover and Boudreaux.
To be continued after I eat supper. (Hopefully I won't fall asleep!!!!)