There I go. Off living life again and this time, it was a two for one trip. Another Fantastic Voyage in the books!
It’s no secret I love the beach…the ocean…my family…my friends…margaritas and about a billion other things but checking off a bucket list item is always on the table. I don’t necessarily go hunting down bucket list items but when they become available, with the added cherry on top to do it for charity, hell yeah I’m in!
About a year ago, my sister in law, Kim, came to me with an opportunity to take a fishing charter out of Ocean City, MD to fish for big game…like, BIG fish way out in the Atlantic ocean. Every year there is a tournament called The Poor Girls Open that has been going on for 25 years.
From the web site:
The Poor Girls Open is a ladies only billfish release tournament benefiting breast cancer research. There are also added entry levels for tuna and dolphin. This tournament was started by Capt. Steve Harman as a way for local waitresses and bartenders to have an affordable and fun competition while raising money for a very important cause. The tournament continues to grow with over 100 boats entering. Participation is not limited only to anglers as there are silent auctions, 50/50 tickets, T-shirts for sale, and other fun events helping to raise money for breast cancer research. In the past 3 years alone, the Poor Girls Open has raised over $100,000 that was donated to the American Cancer Society.
Unfortunately last year, we had no way to raise enough money to do this (it’s not cheap) and can be upwards of $5,000.00 including entry fees and charter, but we knew in a year, we could definitely figure out a way to get sponsors and raise enough to make it happen.
Thanks to Kim’s cousin Val, we had a boat with a captain, (you have to find your own) enough money and sponsors to enter, a team name and a crew of five hearty women and even had our own T-Shirts made up for our team. We were ready to go!
Then, just last weekend we found out from a reliable source who also happened to work part time as a first mate on a few boats, that our “captain” had bailed on us because we didn’t have enough money to enter every calcutta across the board, giving his boat the chance of winning the tourney, BUT would have ended up costing us an additional $2,350! We’re actual poor girls here dude! WTF?!
The boat charter was $1,800
The entry fee was $550 for 5 anglers
Hotel for the weekend $1200/5
Etc. Etc. Etc. We were grateful just to be able to afford all that so when the news came in that he had dumped us 5 days before the tournament, Val sprang into action and found us a BETTER boat, BIGGER boat, and a better captain and first mate almost overnight. “Everything happens for a reason” isn’t just a cliche.
We ended up pulling enough money together to enter one calcutta and we were just happy to be able to participate.
We arrived Wednesday night August 15, 2018 and registered. Our condo was right on the bay so we had a lovely view.
From there, we took a few pics, had some delicious finger food and then hit the grocery store for some sandwiches and snacks for our trip. Then it was shower and Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. 3:30am wake up call.
Here we are! Bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take on the high seas! Okay well we’re awake and we have beer for later so…
The Sunset Marina before sunrise. This was at 4:45am.
Those are the lights of Ocean City, MD way off in the distance behind us.
Pre-dawn and let me tell you, this boat was making tracks! We were going so fast that if you weren’t used to it and had experienced sea legs, you better hold on or you’re gonna hit the deck. That’s our first mate, Bobby on the right. He worked his butt off getting everything ready for us.
Michele (L) and Kim, keeping stationary as we blasted through the waves and waited for the sunrise. It was incredible out there. Once you’re out about 10 miles from shore, the water changes to a deep blue. We were constantly in awe.
Way out there with the tankers!
Okay…sun’s up ladies! It took us about 3 hours from shore to the fishing area, which was approximately 60+ miles from the dock. We couldn’t drop our lines until 8:30am so we picked our order of fishing. How it works is, we each were given 30 minutes on the rods. Every 30 minutes, another girl stepped up for her turn for three complete rotations. There were six rods in the water with bait and three teasers. Teasers are these cool lures without hooks that basically flutter and splash on the surface of the water to attract the fish.
NO LAND IN SIGHT FOLKS! Here’s Bobby setting up the rods. Once the baited lines are ready, the poles are mounted and at 8:30, the lines go into the water and the captain moves the boat slow and steady, dragging the lines behind us. Here fishy fishy!!!
If it were only that easy…they’d call it Catching instead of Fishing
30 minutes per woman. So basically, every 2 1/2 hours, it was my turn. You sit or stand in the back of the boat and if you get a bite, you grab the rod, hop in the fighting chair and reel your ass off. Unfortunately for me, I spent my three turns watching the teasers flutter in the water. Nothing. Nada. Ziltch. Zippo. Not one nibble. Also unfortunately, neither did any of our crew…except for one.
I’ll post the link to the video at the bottom of the blog so you can see what happened.
For a brief two minutes or so, what we’d waited all day for actually happened…then it didn’t happen, all thanks to what the captain suspected to be a defective hook. As you can see, the pointy end…the part that matters…GONE with the fish…a 250lb Blue Marlin.
I want to add that any billfish aka white or blue marlins are catch and release. Tuna and Mahi Mahi (aka dolphin fish) are keepers.
Here we are. There’s our captain, Mike, in the blue shirt and we are from left to right: Val, me, Kim, Debbie, Michele and Bobby. Proud as can be. We survived the waves, the sun, the waiting, the long hours, biting flies and sore rear ends siting and waiting for a fish, and yet we never felt better because it was all for a wonderful charity; breast cancer research. All of us have been touched by this dreaded disease via family members. Some lost their battles while others more recently stricken have beat it, all thanks to research and the American Cancer Society.
We were tired but as Kim said later that evening, it was a GOOD tired. The tired where you know you earned it!
We left the dock at 5:00am and returned at around 5:30PM. Yeah we slept well that night.
We slept well after a bit of girl sillies.
The next day was all fun and games. We earned it. We started the day with a great breakfast at the 45th Street Tap House on Coastal Highway. I highly recommend their Bloody Mary’s and their sunsets on the bay…actual sunsets, not a drink.
Then we did a little pool crashing (shhhh) and swam and chatted the afternoon away at said unmentioned pool location. Then off to the Clarion Hotel and Lenny’s Beach Bar for dinner and drinks to hear an awesome band play. Plus, we made a new friend! Our wonderful waiter Relja from Serbia. He’s in college in Serbia studying finance. We adopted him and low and behold, his mother is a breast cancer survivor! Every summer, hundreds of young adults from Europe are sponsored to work in Ocean City (and other cities) for the summer. Most if not all of them work two jobs and live in deplorable housing, yet they were all the nicest kids. We adopted this one. 🙂
Now for the video. Michele is in the chair reeling. Val is behind her reeling in one of the teasers to get it out of her way since the fish will come up the middle, which of course, it unfortunately didn’t. Captain Mike told us had that hook not snapped, Michele would have been in that chair for up to and possibly beyond FOUR HOURS. No one could have helped her because rules are rules. You have to bring it in yourself.
We told her we had every confidence she could have done it but I guess…we’ll never know.