The end of May was a reason to celebrate; my son Ethan graduated high school and I was coming to the end of an arduous outage at work. We had planned an adventure down in the Keys and loaded up our kayaks and Orion coolers for the long trek to Islamorada. We pulled into our resort and immediately turned heads with our trailer full of colorful kayaks and coolers. This was the maiden voyage of Ethan’s custom Cuda 14 and I could not wait to see it on the water.
The winds were pretty rough for our stay so we did our best to stick to mangrove tunnels and back bays to keep out of the gale. Being in those secluded areas turned out to be pretty awesome though; we saw things most folks never get to see back in those holes. A large manatee decided to swim beside my bride Angie and a monster of a tarpon swam by me. It is a crying shame the tarpon wasn’t hungry! In another spot Ethan was right beside the mangroves when an American crocodile decided to get a close look at his Cuda 14. We were glad that critter just wanted to look and not taste.
After a long paddle in way too much wind, we were ready to kick back and relax a bit. Ethan set up the Boonedox Drifter and used the Orion 45 as his foot stool. If there would have been decent fishing right there we would have added some rod holders and went to work. That would have been as close to perfect as you can get!
The next morning we left the kayaks on the trailer and loaded up with Capt. Chris from On the Reef charters. The Orion 25 proved over and over just how handy it can be starting as a nice step into the big boat. It held enough drinks for 4 of us on a hot, windy, all day trip to the patch reefs just off shore. It served as a great place to sit for weary legs and believe me, even though that standing pad is thin it makes a serious difference when you are sitting on it!
We had loaded up on yellowtail snapper and several other species of good eating fish so Capt. Chris and I went to work on the cleaning chores. He includes it in his packages, but I just had to run my knife a little. It makes it so much easier cleaning a pile of fish as a team. The bags of fillets were packed away in the room’s freezer till time to leave and then I put them in the Orion 45 for the trip home. I added a 10lb bag of ice and then the fish on top. This is the part that just flat out amazed me: those fillets rode on a 650 mile trip, in full sun on a scorching day. We stopped several times on the way home so it added more dormant time on hot asphalt. As soon as we got home I headed for the fillets figuring I need to get them in the freezer quickly. They had not thawed in the least tiny bit. I mean even the tiniest frost crystals on the outside of the bag had melted! This was in 90 plus weather on a black trailer on asphalt! They looked EXACTLY like they did when I took them out of the freezer over 13 hours before. If you travel, or need to keep multiple day limits fresh and cold, the Orion will not let you down.