Fish Hard and Give Back
A superyacht and a serious sportfishing crew travel the globe to show that sport and charity go hand in hand.
A superyacht by any measure is impressive, but what about one that cruises nonstop and aids in humanitarian work across the globe? Such is the story of Dorothea III, the 147-foot Cheoy Lee owned by an avid fisherman in Miami and operated by a crew whose mission is to give back to the communities it visits. Shadowing the yacht is Post One, a 63-foot Hatteras used for big game fishing.
At the wheelhouse of Dorothea is Capt. John Crupi, who has been involved with the program since 2000. Crupi’s itinerary is designed to chase billfish around the world. Sportfishing is not just a casual pastime for the yacht’s owner; Dorothea III travels year-round, and she has been underway since she left Ft. Lauderdale in January 2018.
“We mostly follow fishing patterns,” Crupi says. “Most of our fishing takes place in areas that are home to blue and black marlin, which have been our major focus this past year.” Dorothea has traveled to over 75 countries since joining the family in 2007, and on her current voyage alone she’s been to South America, the Bahamas, southern Europe, the South Pacific and Australia, where she will remain for six months.
The yacht runs with an eight- or nine-person crew. All are multi-disciplined; they have to assist in systems maintenance for not one but two ships, as most of their destinations have no service available. “She goes to the shipyard every two to two-and-a-half years, and in the meantime we’re always running,” says Crupi. Dorothea has undergone three major refits in the past seven years.
Sportfishing is the impetus behind the entire expedition, and the owner’s pelagic pursuits require a suitable vessel. Post One has more than proven itself up for the task. “It’s an amazing boat,” Crupi says. “It runs by itself alongside Dorothea. It’s 20 months old and has traveled 38,000 miles on its own.”
Post One was built from the ground up once the Dorothea project decided it no longer wanted to tow a fishing vessel after more than a decade of doing so. The build, which began in January 2017, focused specifically on ensuring that the Hatteras could cruise extensively and fish hard. The resulting craft has been so successful that the project is already preparing to order another, which will be its fifth new Hatteras in nine years.\
Post One is equipped for serious sportfishing. It pulls two double dredges rigged with mullet, ballyhoo or plastic shad, and it keeps two swimming baits at the long rigger position.
“We troll for most of our fish, and in doing so we fish with a lot of teasers, which is a little more difficult than towing lures with hooks in them,” Crupi says. As they raise the fish to lures, they present baits with circle hooks in them, which are more likely to lodge in the corner of the mouth or the bill than in the esophagus or stomach.
“Circle hooks are much safer for the fish than standard hooks,” Crupi says. The project follows a catch and release policy for all billfish. While the itinerary primarily focuses on the migration patterns of blue and black marlin, the crew also pursues sailfish, dorado and tuna.
Gallery: Dorothea III in Patagonia
Dorothea does not cruise in pursuit of fish alone; the crew engages in humanitarian work along the way. “[Our mission] is to give back to the communities we visit, which are less fortunate than we are,” Crupi says. “If we can pass along a little bit of good, then all the better.”
The yacht’s owners, while not directly involved with the humanitarian work, are happy to lend their boat to the crew so they may carry out such initiatives. In 2018, the crew organized a fundraiser called the Marlin Mission. Donors pledged money for each marlin caught and released by the crew on their travels, and proceeds were used to sponsor teachers and provide school supplies, computers, eyeglasses and food for children in Cape Verde and Brazil, two destinations where the crew fish frequently. The Marlin Mission successfully raised $26,000.
The Dorothea crew is also currently involved with SeaKeeper’s S.A.R.A.H. Initiative to help clean plastics from the ocean. “Everyday we’re underway when sea conditions allow, we tow a net behind us for a set amount of time, logging our start longitude and latitude, speed, sea conditions and ending position,” Crupi says. “When we flush the net and gather all the goods it picks up, it’s always a surprise what we find.”
According to Crupi, the net usually contains both pollution and evidence of nature at work, which can be simultaneously encouraging and discouraging. The Dorothea is one of only a small handful of vessels currently involved in the initiative. At Florida International University, scientists will analyze the sample kits that the crew provides, and the lab will report back on exactly what they are catching in order to map and quantify plastic debris in the ocean.
Crupi acknowledges that the crew’s environmental work could be viewed at odds with the environmental impact of boating itself. “We burn lots of diesel fuel and probably contribute more to pollution than we should,” he says. “There’s no way to be a boater and not have some sort of carbon footprint or some sort of negative effect on the environment, so this is our way of trying to counteract that.” With only a few boats currently dragging nets for the S.A.R.A.H. Initiative, there is limited data available, but their involvement is a hopeful step.
The Dorothea III, Post One and crew have no plans to reel in their adventures in the foreseeable future. After six months in Australia, the team will work their way back to Central America before returning to Florida until the end of April. The yacht will then spend six months in the shipyard, and the group will re-embark in the fall when they welcome a new Hatteras to the fleet. “We will be starting out in the Atlantic and who knows where it will lead,” Crupi says. That is the nature of the whole mission: Set out with no strict destination, let the fish determine the path and do as much good as possible along the way.