Monday, April 23, 2007

Friday 20th April

Palmeras Island,
Aves de Sotavento

12 01.213 N
67 41.035 W

Make a note of this date on your calendars – today was the day we caught our first ever fish! More of that later.
We secured the dink to the davits and readied the boat for a short passage to the other Aves – a distance of 23.3miles. We wove our way out through the same reefs and coral heads that we had come through on the way in – in fact I just used the same chart plotter track on the way out that we had made on the way in – it makes things easier! Then we headed west and slightly north until we reached our destination. We put the jib up when we first cleared the reef but the wind was very light and the jib kept collapsing so Gerry wanted to try the main by itself to see if we could get along with just that. Away went the jib and we turned into wind (what wind?) hoisted the main sail and then turned back on course. At least the main didn’t keep flapping about but we could only manage 4.5 – 5 knots and at times less. We slowly crept past Gypsy Palace who had started out in front of us but were only flying their jib, we both looked like we were wallowing in the water rather than sailing. As the afternoon began to take on the feeling that we wouldn’t arrive at our destination until dark Dale called us to say that he thought motoring was the only way to get there in day light, we agreed and we began to motor, stopping briefly to drop our main. Once we were motoring at a reasonable speed we threw the fishing line out, joking that it was a waste of time as we had noticed a large flock of birds diving into the water about half a mile off of our port bow. Just as I was getting into the last chapters of my book the fish alarm (the yellow peg on the safety rail) went ping and the last of the line vanished out of the back of the boat. We didn’t get too excited as this has happened before when we increased speed but Gerry tugged on the line and yelled that we had a strike. We both leapt about like idiots, Gerry slowed the boat down whilst I began to reel in our catch on the Cuban hand reel, it was heavy and hard going to say the least but eventually I dragged the fish up alongside the boat. We had no idea what it was so we called Dale on the radio and described it to him – Wahoo!!! Now we were stuck with what to do next, we couldn’t haul it aboard as the dink was on the davits – one of the few times that we traveled that way. I couldn’t bring it up over the side rail as it was too heavy for me and in the end I gaffed it and with a hand gaff and hung it from a cleat on our back arch, hoping that nothing bigger took a fancy to it whilst we dragged it along. We were so close to our destination that we decided to deal with it once we were anchored. We motored into a small gap between islands and dropped our anchor, Gerry dove the anchor to make sure we weren’t going anywhere and then it was time to deal with the fish. Dale and Lorie came over to our boat so that Dale could instruct Gerry on cleaning and cutting up the Wahoo. We took photos to brag about and then it was time for the serious stuff. The next hour or so was too painful to record, we did get the fish cleaned and filleted and we practiced the fillet and release program that we have so often joked about. The Wahoo was a good size – about 30 -35 pounds and we got a good amount of meat off of it, I hasten to add that there was also a lot that we wasted but we can only store and eat so much. Once we had dealt with the fish it was time to clean up the blood and mess at the back end of the boat, luckily not too much but it still took a while. I made some coleslaw and then we dinked over to Gypsy Palace to share our fresh catch for dinner. Lorie had made some killer potato salad and we hade another great meal watching the sun go down and wondering what the poor people were doing. (Eating fish on the back end of their boat I think!)
Photos of fish on cleat and Me with my catch from camera of Gypsy Palace



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