Monday, May 30, 2011

Hank Hofford wins 2011 C2B

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (May 28, 2011)-Late yesterday evening, Stephen Colbert and his fellow teammate sailing on board the OnDeck Farr 65 Spirit of Juno in this 777-mile race were just 25 miles from the finish. They were well within striking distance of their chief rivals - the mostly family crew on board Tucana, a Shipman 63 that had just crossed the finish line (7:46:12 EDT). If they could finish within 4.5 hours of Tucana, Colbert and company would be crowned the winners, based on corrected time with the handicap ratings factored in. But it was not to be. After sundown, the easterly winds moderated, causing Juno to crawl slowly to the finish, eventually crossing the line well into the wee hours of Saturday.

A weary but happy and bewiskered Colbert turned up at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club this morning, eager for a shower and a chance to rediscover his land legs. When asked how his voyage was, he said "Sublime. We've not gotten a lot of sleep this week, but we sailed as hard as we could when there was wind. It's hard," he said, "but even the hard parts are sublime. There's really no frame of reference for watching sperm whales breach of your starboard bow. It's an incredibly beautiful experience. I'd recommend it to anyone." Comparing this race to his experience in 2005, he offered: "I was hoping we'd get here sooner since we were on this fantastic machine, but nature didn't want to cooperate. That doesn't matter; it was incredibly beautiful. It's too much to digest quickly.

Meanwhile, the winning crew from Tucana spent the night on board, tied securely to the yacht club's docks in Hamilton Harbor. Upon arriving at the yacht club, strategist and co-navigator Michael Miller told Bermuda news cameramen that Tucana had run into light winds borne of high pressure systems "again, and again, and again. Then we got wind, but it was upwind sailing." Miller described a strategy that quickly morphed from proactive to reactive. "When we ran out of wind, the only option was to go south, and that's what we did." Tucana's track (depicted on the Yellowbrick tracking system online) indicates that she was the only one of the 11 yachts racing to drop south of the rhumbline before Friday. The rest of Tucana's crew consisted of Hank Hofford, his wife Susan Ford, son John, daughters Jessica and Anna, and several friends, along with the boat's permanent skipper Pat Maflin and two paid crew. According to Hofford, one of the highlights was catching and releasing a blue marlin, which the crew did on their final day at sea. They also caught three Mahi Mahi earlier in the trip. For Hofford, this is his fifth Charleston Bermuda Race, and the fourth for Susan Ford. Also on board were race veterans Ken Bauer (four times) and Dan Valoppi (three times).

As of the 11:00 a.m. position update today, four boats are continuing to race and five others have retired. Some 146 miles southwest of Bermuda, David Skidmore and Barry Ling on board Skidmore's 41-foot ketch, Eables' Wings, are continuing with good pace. Their progress was recorded at 5.7 knots. They need to finish within 38.4 hours of Noel Sterrett and Matt Henderson on board Sterrett's J/130 Solarus in order to win the Doublehanded Divison. At this time, Solarus was closing in on Bermuda at 5.4 knots, still 25 miles from the finish.

And the duel at the rear of the fleet between Rob Turkewitz's team on board his classic Cherubini 44 First Light and Bernie Schapiro's crew on his Beneteau 411 Pied-a-Mer continues. As of the most recent position update, Schapiro and company were some 22 miles ahead. In a ship-to-shore call this morning, Schapiro reported larger swells in the three to four foot range. "We've got 11 to 12 knots of wind just south of east, so we're reaching and making good headway. Everything is fine on board right now."

With any luck, and some wind, all of the remaining competitors will arrive in Bermuda on time for the official awards ceremony, which is scheduled to take place at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Sunday evening.

To see past blog coverage of the C2B click here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

44th G'town Gov. Cup Recap - White Marlin SURPRISE

It was a good day for S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series Corporate Sponsors Palmetto Ford and Atlantic Tackle. The 44th Georgetown Landing Marina tournament ended with Sportin' Life, owned by the Eubank family of Palmetto Ford, rigged up with gear from Jeremy Burnham of Atlantic Tackle, and proceeded to release two blue marlin and one white marlin on their way to 1800 release points and winning the Top Boat hardware! Finishing in second place was Daymaker and Miss Wy IV finished in third, thanks to her strong final day releasing one blue marlin and two white marlin. Plenty of drama in the meatfish categories was in store for Saturday as well with the wahoo and dolphin division winners decided during the weigh in from 5 to 7. The big story of the tournament is the presence of lots of white marlin off the coast presently, with 30white marlin caught and released with accounts of that many more white marlin that appeared in the baits and were not caught. This congregation of white marlin kept the Gov. Cup anglers in tune and ready for the blue marlin bite.

To view more blog coverage from the 2011 G'town Gov. Cup Click here.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Graham Eubank of Sportin' Life with his 25.2-pound mahi mahi

VideoByJeffDennis: Georgetown Landing Marina manager John Horton gives the Wallace Pate award to Jim Johnston

Saturday, May 28, 2011

44th G'town Landing Marina Gov. Cup - Day Two

Everyone is getting All G'd Up in Georgetown for the finish of the second leg of the S.C. Governor's Cup Billshing series at the Georgetown Landing Marina. On Day Two only ten boats went fishing, but they managed seven billfish releases. Six boats are now fished out and 27 boats will be fishing on Saturday.

To view more blog coverage from the G'town Gov. Cup click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Richard Coen Jr. with his 18.6-pound mahi; The Bennett's make fishing a family thang aboard Rodeo; Michael Shuler reeled in this 27.0-pound mahi mahi while Michael Mattson assisted; Rance Jennings is six years old and shows how to reel in an 11.2-pound dolphin caught on the Sadie Beth

Friday, May 27, 2011

44th G'town Landing Marina Gov. Cup - Day One

The first day of the 44th annual Georgetown Landing Marina Billfish Tournament saw 29 boats out of 34 go fishing in a steady south wind. The billfishing for white marlin was excellent and 14 white marlin releases were reported with lots more encounters with whites that did not result in hook-ups. One blue marlin was released by Mindset, and the Gov. Cup fleet released 5 sailfish total. No wahoo came to the scales.

To view blog coverage from other 2011 Gov. Cup events click here.

To view blog coverage for the 2010 Goergetown Gov. Cup click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: George Benjamin holds his 27.8-pound mahi while Steve Godfrey holds his two blackfin tuna; Keenan Grayson of Charleston with her 27.0-pound mahi caught aboard On The Hook; young Pee Wee Thornhill found this bonita behind the Benchmark; Daymaker's four flags put them in the lead after Day One

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Van Liew set to win Velux 5 Oceans Race


Le Pingouin - credit Ainhoa Sanchez/ VELUX 5 OCEANS
American ocean racer predicts Friday finish for The Ultimate Solo Challenge

THE end may be in sight but the final sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS is far from over yet for overall leader Brad Van Liew who has spent the last 24 hours battling a fierce North Atlantic storm.

The 43-year-old is not only at the top of the leaderboard after a clean sweep of the previous four ocean sprints but has also led the charge across theNorth Atlantic from his hometown of Charleston in South Carolina to La Rochelle in France, the place the race started from more than eight months ago.

Le Pengouin under sail in Charleston Harbor
At yesterday’s 1800 UTC position report – the last schedule where all four boats were polled – Brad had a lead of just over 60 miles on his race rivals. Choosing to seek out stronger winds to up his speeds towards La Rochelle Brad sailed his Eco 60 Le Pingouin close to the eye of a depression. He was rewarded with boat speeds hitting more than 25 knots – but also paid the price for the move encountering howling 47-knot winds and crashing seas.

“This low pressure area I’m in is quite a barn-burner,” Brad reported this morning. “I’ve had up to 47 knots this morning with lots of squalls. The seas have got really gnarly too – not huge but really short and steep. Right now I’m just trying to take care of the boat – I’ve got three reefs in the main and no jib at all. I wanted to stay north to get the stronger breeze but it has got pretty serious.
“I should probably have a storm job up but I don’t think I’m going to have these winds for too much longer, plus I’m sailing pretty deep downwind. Everything is under control and I have made some really good miles over the last few position reports. I’m just trying to keep my promise to Le Pingouin to push hard and do well but not break anything and get her there in one piece.”

With the storm set to ease and the wind direction due to back in the next 12 hours, Brad only has to hang on a little while longer to escape what will probably be his last big storm of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. More than 30,000 miles of gruelling ocean racing has taken its toll, and the American has his sights firmly set on stepping onto terra firma in La Rochelle as quickly as possible.

“This really is the last big weather moment of this race for me and LP,” Brad said. “The wind is going to start backing soon and I will gybe in about six hours and then start playing northerlies all the way to La Rochelle. At the moment I’m going to be in La Rochelle by midday on the 27th May in a nice mellow north-north easterly breeze. That’s the plan at the moment. I’m ready for a break, I’m pretty burnt out. This race has been a fantastic event and the boat has been really special but now I’m tired!”

Despite entering the speed gate yesterday Brad insisted his main priority is keeping his boat in one piece. “The speed gate for me doesn’t matter too much, there is no reason for me to focus on it now,” he added. “I’m not going to push so hard that I risk doing damage to my boat.”

The speed gate is however a major importance to duelling skippers Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkoswki and Derek Hatfield, both currently in 24-hour stealth mode. Locked in battle and tied on points for second place, both will reappear on the racetrack at tonight’s 0000 UTC position report.

To view past blog entries about the race click here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SCSSA Dolphin Days tourney

The South Carolina Saltwater Sportfishing Association held their Dolphin Days tournament on May 21. Eighteen boats fished in the event and some dolphin and wahoo were weighed in, while no tuna or king mackerel were brought to the dock. Congrats to Bryson Hills for releasing a blue marlin and for reeling in the top dolphin on the Prowess while father Ritt Ritter looked on. The top wahoo went to J.J. Goff.

To view past SCSSA tourney results and blog entries click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Jessica Britt and he 17.4-pound mahi caught aboard the Trim It Up; Glenn and Adi Feavel show off what's for dinner; Lucy Mahon and her 14.6-pound greenie caught aboard the Lil 'Bit; Dolphin affection from happy angler Erin Horton

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Southern Tails include forked tails

Thanks to Southern Tail Charters for helping me to continue a string of several summers in a row (43 now.... LOL) of chasing Spanish mackerel in the Charleston Nearshore waters.
To view past blog entries on Hegamyer click here.

PhotosByGrahamHegaMyer: When you get on the Spanish there is a good chance that you and your buddy can catch them two at a time; a gummy fly almost perfectly matches the glass minnows that the Spanish were chasing; Ever hear about looking for the birds and casting underneath them - here's a good example!

PhotoByJeffDennis: Amateur marine biologist Hegamyer will explain and photograph just about anything that comes along while you are out in his boat, such as this blue crab

Monday, May 23, 2011

C2B: Charleston to Bermuda Sailing Race


CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (May 23, 2011)-Aeolus, the wind god of Greek mythology, appears to be pleased with the yachts sailing in the biennial Charleston Bermuda Race. On Sunday night, the offshore winds increased and everyone in the fleet began making substantial progress toward Bermuda after a very spotty Saturday night. It's also evident that Nereus, the Greek god of the sea's rich bounty, has also been favoring the racers as well.

To date, three boats have reported catching fish as they speed their way to the Onion Isles. On board Tucana, the Shipman 63 that Hank Hofford and his wife Susan Ford and their family crew are racing (along with a few friends and guests), the crew reported catching two tuna. In their brief text message to shore, they wrote "Caught two tuna, all is well on board."

Comedian Stephen Colbert, sailing aboard the Farr 65 Spirit of Juno, which moved into the overall lead early this morning, also reported catching fish. In an e-mail sent last night he wrote: "Dear land-based life forms, "Fantastic day. We started the day with windless bobbing from 4:00 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. We punctuated this inertia by catching, on a hand line, two mahi-mahi, a very beautiful fish-fish! They both were laid to rest in a small Tupperware coffin surrounded by lime juice and chopped onions. Spent the afternoon dodging wind holes and watching dolphins play in our bow wake. We've also been introducing our English crew to the joys of grits. They are dubious, but too polite to admit they tossed it overboard. We are on four hour watches and lucky to get three hours' sleep at a time. Those of you familiar with totalitarian regimes will remember that sleep deprivation is one way that dictators break their enemies."

"We are in good position thanks to our skipper, Tim Scarisbrick, first mate Bertie Whitley and second mate Chris Miller. We all smell wonderful. See you in Bermuda!"

Colbert and his Team Audi on Juno crewmates were blasting along toward Bermuda at 8-plus knots as of the midday position updates today. Spirit of Juno is among the most northerly boats in the fleet. The boat farthest to the north, David Skidmore's Morgan Out Island 41 Eagles' Wings, was moving along nicely as well, heading northeast at over 9 knots.

Skidmore's wife Mary e-mailed race headquarters to relay a message from on board. She said that the boat has been experiencing electrical problems and Skidmore has had to run his engine for up to 12 hours each day to keep all the electronics working. On board Colbert's chief rival, the Spirit of Minerva, which is under charter to the comedians close friend Steve Wherry, all appears to be well. Wherry wrote in an e-mail yesterday: "Day 1 is over and what a great time Team Southern Tide is having. Winds have been sporadic, giving us time to jump overboard to cool off in the crystal clear water. We've had pods of up to 40 dolphin with us, jumping, somersaulting, and doing other dolphin tricks. We keep hoping for more breeze to take advantage of this huge mast and big waterline...still hoping!" Back on shore, 25-year-old Rory Faulkner, the former captain of the Spirit of Juno who suffered a collapsed lung just before the race began and had to disembark unexpectedly, is faring much better now. "I'm hoping that I can be discharged today," he said via phone from his hospital room at the Medical University of South Carolina. "My plan is to get out, rest for a day, and then see if the doctors will clear me to fly to Bermuda and meet the boat. I've got my fingers crossed." Regarding the Spirit of Juno's impressive progress, Faulkner said: "It's fantastic watching the boat doing well. I've got Internet access right here in the room, and I've been able to follow their progress. It's really impressive to see them staying up there ahead of one Shipman and even with the other, particularly since it's been a light air race so far, and Juno goes much better in a breeze." As of the most recent position reports this afternoon, the leaders had slowed down significantly, but Race Director Bjorn Johnson said he expected that to be a temporary situation. Johnson said that weather data from Weather Routing, Inc., indicates stable winds for the next three days. For images, updates and more information about the Charleston Bermuda Race, log on to

To see blog coverage form the 2009 C2B click here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Reef Safe / Finding sunscreen secrets

Summertime means lots and lots of sunscreen for those that love the outdoors. We have less time in today's environment to get burned than we used to it seems, and often early in the summer with no base tan we get 'lobstered' all to often. Even if wearing a long sleeve shirt and a hat, sunscreen needs to be applied to one's neck and face to protect against sunrays that bounce off the water. A new type of Suncare is hitting the market called Reef Safe and is a biodegradable product that is not harmful to sealife. Reef Safe is conducting a new media campaign to reach 1000 likes on their Facebook page with a grand prize of an Ultimate Bon Voyage Kit of suncare. Details are on the flyer posted here!

Now, what about the type of sunscreen that you are already familiar with, or prefer to use. It turns out that the Environmental Working Group's website has a great user guide to find the best sunscreens. You can also read about sun safety tips, or explore which products have harmful warnings attached to them. If you're curious about sunscreens then click here to explore a wealth of information about them. This website was listed in the June issue of Sport Fishing Magazine.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Ocean Potion and Smart Shield are two common sunscreens

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Redfish Lodge, Texas - Day Two

Setting out with Captain Terry Coufal of T.C. Charters from Cove Harbor marina we were to fish near Traylor Island in Arnasas Bay. The bait of choice in the Gulf is a 3-inch croaker and the baitwell was full of them. We used American Rodsmiths rods which are made in Houston and Quantum Boca spinning reels rigged with 12-pound Trilene Big Game line. May and June are the best months to trout fish in Texas and despite the windy and overcast conditions we were able to dredge up a dozen trout, and even a catfish or two. To check out our fishing report for May 17 on Capt. Coufla's website click here. After a morning of fishing CCA's leadership conducted afternoon meetings to raise awareness about how they promote fish habitat in the 17 states where they have members. Ideas and opinions were exchanged after guest speakers like Matt Connolly, CEO of the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust spoke.

To view the Day One blog entry from the Redfish Lodge click here.

To read my feature story in the Charleston Mercury click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Just another solid 18-inch Texas Trout; we took advantage of the bragging board at the marina to display our catch; we were told we would eat our catch for dinner and they sure do know how to cook it; CCA, Kenny Chesney and Costa have teamed up for some limited edition sunglasses that benefit the conservation group with $10 for each pair sold.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Redfish Lodge, Texas - Day One

Wetting a line in the Gulf of Mexico in the name of conservation was reason enough to change this blog's name temporarily to Laguna Outdoors!!! This was my first trip to Corpus Cristie and I was glad to see the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, No. 16, in port - and there was no denying that she was the sistership to our own USS Yorktown, The Fighting Lady, No. 10. Traveling through scrub country to Rockport, Texas and the the final destination of The Redfish Lodge put the CCA anglers closer to making some casts for trout. The Lodge rests on a peninsula called Rattlesnake Point just south of Copano Bay and specializes in fishing year round and duck hunting in season. The acomodations are comfortable and the views are awesome, while the kitchen staff dotes on the anglers assembled in the dining hall during supper time. Incredibly, the lodge has some excellent trout fishing on its private beach underneath some special lights that they run at night in order to attract bait. Brad Gentner, a fisheries economist from Maryland, and I worked on those trout while others enjoyed libations after dinner. Gentner used a flyrod while I used a spinning outfit and when shrimp became attracted to the lights, they attracted a pod of gulls diving and flapping in our area. An exploratory casts revealed what we thought, that the trout were hanging out under those shrimp, and we went on to experience something akin to fishing anarchy, since we caught 50 trout in short order and were able to practice our catch and release methods through sheer repetition. What a great fishery!

PhotosByJeffDennis: Brad Gentner with a night-time trout caught at the Redfish Lodge beach; Surf and turf anyone?! ; Plenty of bird life was spotted like this great blue heron and even a roseate spoonbill !!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SCWF Celebrates legends of Conservation

The South Carolina Wildlife Federation continued their 80th anniversary year celebration by honoring a baker's dozen of conservationists in their 80's. To read my feature article in the Charleston Mercury click here.

PhotosByMyrtleAnnDennis: Anne Worsham Richardson in her Bird's Eye View Gallery

Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 Bohicket Gov. Cup Results / Fun Pics

Reel Passion leaped to the top of the Governor's Cup Series point standings by putting on a billfish release clinic at the 2011 Bohicket Marina Billfish Invitational. The meatfish bite was slow except for a very nice 73.8-pound wahoo caught by Stokely Holder on Thursday. The twenty-one boat fleet made the initial event in the Gov. Cup Series a big success due to their enthusiasm and participation.

To view more blog coverage from the 2011 Bohicket Gov. Cup click here.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Greg Smith is owner of the Blue Sky and displays a smile along with his winning 30.6-pound mahi; Bryan Richardson in the Boss of the Bohicket Boardwalk and welcomes Tournament Director Deidre Menefee; Jesse Alderson and Amy Dukes of DNR await the Gov. Cup fleet arrival for their flurry of work to begin; Blake Pearce grabbed the rod and called out Get the gaff! Then somehow this 9.6-pound skipjack came to the surface. He may have thought that the tale of this epic fish interaction would diminish the next day - but.... welcome to the Lowcountry Outdoors!!

Special SHOUT OUT to blog follower Greg Garner for questioning me about the lack of Governor's Cup blogging on Thursday and Friday this week. In fact, my blogger software crashed for those days and after some high level talks with the CEO of Google I was able to restore and then continue blog coverage. I'm sure blog follower Angel Brown had some concerns as well... and Thanks to all those who keep me straight!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Velux 5 Oceans Race re-start from HarborFest / Video

What: The fifth and final ocean sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo, around-the world race will start today from Charleston SC (USA), and the four remaining skippers will sprint towards La Rochelle, France to complete their global circumnavigation which started there on October 17, 2010.

Who: The skippers are Brad Van Liew (USA), Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski (POL), Derek Hatfield (CAN) and Chris Stanmore-Major (GB). Brad will secure overall victory in the race as long as he successfully completes the final leg. Derek and Hatfield are tied on points and the battle between them to decide second and third on the podium will be fierce.

The VELUX 5 OCEANS is considered The Ultimate Solo Challenge, the race covers five gruelling ocean sprints over nine months and the skippers have already sailed from Europe to Cape Town, South Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope and into the Southern Ocean to Wellington New Zealand, past the most remote spot on earth and around the treacherous Cape Horn to Punta del Este, Uruguay before battling difficult weather patterns up to Charleston.

When: The race departure ceremony will start from 12 noon (EST) today at Harborfest and the boats will then head out to approximately 7 miles offshore for the race start at 3pm (EST).

PhotosByJeffDennis: LePingouin leaves the docks as the only American in the Velux 5 Race; large crowds jammed the Maritime Center for Harborfest activities; Brad Van Liew with shore crewman Jean Christophe Caso; Jennifer Holtsclaw and Meaghan Van Liew greet supporters at the Rock The Dock function at SeaBreeze Marina

For past blog entries on the Velux 5 Race click here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

2011 Governor's Cup BEGINS

A typical summertime weather pattern which included an early morning thunder-boomer this week greeted the 22-boat fleet that is fishing at the Bohicket Marina Invitational May 12 - 14. A chance to fish on Friday the 13th did not scare away the saltwater anglers that gathered for the Captain's Meeting to explain the rules - specifically that there are NO changes in rules this year! The charter dock was awash with talk of billfish in the ocean and what might be the top secret lures being trolled to tempt them. Daily weigh-ins are 5 until 8 each day and Bohicket Marina will always have one of the top sunset views in the Lowcountry outdoors - so make the drive to John's Island and join in the family fun.

To view blog coverage from the 2010 Bohicket Gov. Cup click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: SCDNR's Wallace Jenkins and Amy Dukes led the Captain's meeting; Comfortable temperatures saw plenty of fishing t-shirts and flip-flops in the crowd; Altantic Tackle has out done themselves with their second generation mobile tackle shop that has everything from teaser tackle to top-dollar lures for sale.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CCA Tide - Dolphin Tagging article

I was glad to help educate others about the good work being done through Don Hammond's dolphin tagging program with the readers of CCA's TIDE Magazine.

Here's the link. Click on 'My Bookmark' to view my story!

To view more stories by Jeff in CCA's TIDE magazine click here.

PhotoByDonGates: Netting a dolphin is rare, but it is a proper technique for handling a fish that is to be tagged and released

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Guy Harvey partners with CCA South Carolina

South Carolina CCA has a new teammate, one of the planet's premiere Ocean Conservationists. None other than Guy Harvey has agreed to partner with CCA of S.C., Aftco tackle and Palmetto Moon retail stores to produce and sell a new Guy Harvey design t-shirt. A significant portion of the sales proceeds will benefit the Topwater Action Campaign that CCA conducts in South Carolina. The exclusive t-shirt design is available in several colors and features the crescent moon from the state flag and seven of the fish species found in S.C. waters. "Guy Harvey is a passionate advocate for the world's marine resources," said Steve Stock of Guy Harvey Inc. There can be no doubt this collaboration of conservation-minded organizations can only serve to raise awareness about responsible harvests, and protection and enhancement of our precious coastal natural resources. Guy Harvey magazine is a new outlet for oceanic advocates to read about regional and global conservation efforts and current events. CCA National has been publishing TIDE magazine for years now and continues to provide an undertow of information for anglers.

To view past blog entries on CCA's Topwater Action Campaign click here.