Last Friday we headed up to Homosassa for our fifth annual scalloping trip, a weekend full of fun and food!
Some ladies headed up early on Friday to get settled in at MacRaes and have a relaxing afternoon. They hung out at the Shed, a hydration facility located nearby on the docks, listening to a band. Around 3:00 the stormy weather moved in, eventually leading to tornado warnings.
But the weather didn’t affect their appetite. They had a potluck dinner which include the following: sauteed Florida lobster, tomato pie, rotisserie chicken, tabouli, fish spread, cowboy caviar, bean salad, watermelon, ham rolls, tomato & feta cheese salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing and Paula Deen green chile squares. Dessert would arrive later.
While this group enjoyed such a fine meal, another group stayed put in St. Petersburg, waiting out the tornado warnings that had moved into the area. This delayed their departure by about an hour or so. But by waiting, much better weather was had for the drive to Homosassa.
Upon arrival, they shared the dessert for the potluck, brownies with Georgia pecans, while everyone discussed the days activities and scalloping plans for the morning.
When it came time for bed, no worries about the band playing at the Shed keeping us up. It was hard to hear the music over all the frogs croaking! The heavy rain from earlier in the day left a small lake in the parking lot and the frogs showed up to party. A few of them hung out on the door frames, perhaps concerned we couldn’t hear their croaking well enough from the parking lot.
We awoke to beautiful weather on Saturday morning, nice and sunny. We boarded three boats, six to a boat, and headed out for our scallop scurry, just after 8:15 or so.
Not far from where the Homosassa River spills into the Gulf of Mexico, we made our first stop. Everyone pulled on their flippers, mask and snorkel and dropped into the Gulf of Mexico in search of scallops. Someone told the scallops we were coming as most of them had scurried away before our arrival. We did manage to catch a few but our scalloping captain decided we would move on to a different spot.
This area proved more plentiful. It was a little deeper and had more sandy spots. Many of us got several double catches, snagging two scallops on the same dive. Some ladies even scored an occasional triple catch.
While searching for scallops, it was beautiful looking down through our masks, seeing starfish, fish and other sea life. The water was clear for the most part, unless someone swimming nearby had stirred things up. It was quite relaxing as we floated effortlessly with the current, watching for scallops on the bottom hiding in the weeds or near rocks. The sunlight beamed through the water, shining on some scallops, exposing them. The temperature was perfect. If we felt a chill, swimming a few strokes warmed us back up.
We were so focused on our scallop search that more than once, we didn’t notice another swimmer nearby until we almost ran into them!
We had much success in this area but after a while we decided to move to a third spot not far away to finish getting our limit of scallops for each boat.
Shortly after the captain’s boat had it’s limit so they headed back. One of the other boats came over to the third boat, with our fellow scallop scurriers offering to jump in and help the third boat catch the limit. Instead they watched as it wasn’t long before the third boat was done.
These two boats began the trip back to the docks, starting at about 1:30 or so. We were back to the docks just past 2:00.
The teams on the boats had been divided according to scallop cleaning preference. The ladies on the boat with the scalloping captain wanted the full adventure so they cleaned their own scallops when they got back to the docks. The other two boats decided to have some of the locals at the docks clean the scallops for them.
It was cleaning time. The Local Boys cleaned our scallops while we headed to our rooms for showers. Refreshed and hungry, as per tradition, we headed up to Peck’s Old Port Cove in Ozello where Dottie, Tillie and Kay joined us for a great seafood dinner.
After being served drinks and some yummy onion straw appetizers, a male patron at the next table, perhaps overly hydrated from alcoholic beverages, offered to buy everyone at our table a drink. We accepted his kind offer. 🙂
As usual, dinner was delicious. Many of us got the almond crusted grouper. Others enjoyed the crab cakes, fried shrimp, blackened grouper and crab. Some also tried an oyster appetizer.
After cleaning our plates as best we could (several put leftovers in those white Styrofoam take-out boxes), we rolled out into the parking lot and posed for a picture with the sunset behind us before heading back to MacRaes.
It is about a 30 minute ride between Peck’s and MacRaes, which gave us time to build up a tiny appetite. When we returned we finish off the pecan brownies leftover from Friday night’s potluck. The MacRaes group piled into one room to watch the movie, Magic Mike. It wouldn’t be a movie without popcorn so we popped one bag to share.
It was fun watching Magic Mike with a group as with each other’s help we were able to identify most of the locations where the movie was filmed locally.
After the movie, exhausted from rising early, several hours of swimming and with our stomachs full from a large dinner, we all headed to bed for a good night’s sleep. We didn’t hear the frogs Saturday night. Although their population had decreased during the day as the sun dried up the small lake, reducing it to a pond, we would not have heard them anyway. We quickly dropped off to dreams of the fresh scallop dinner in our futures.
On Sunday morning, the MacRaes crew gathered together in Chef Lavinia’s room for quite the breakfast: orange French toast with blueberries, Florida lobster omelets, sausage, watermelon, fruit salad and orange juice. When you are around this group, you never go hungry!
Alas, the weekend came to an end. Scallops were divvied up, cars were loaded and we all headed home.
Another successful scallop scurry. After such a wonderful weekend, we are already looking forward to the 2014 scallop adventure!
Photos from the trip: