Atlantic Crossing Part II Days 25-27: Fish On!

Monday July 14, 2014

I hate to admit to myself, but mostly you, how very easy it is to become incredibly lazy on a passage. The sad part is that it has nothing to do with fear of seasickness or of moving around the boat too much. It’s just your everyday garden variety of ‘It is so much easier to sit here and do absolutely nothing than to put effort into anything at all’. Which is probably why we’ve let ourselves drift along at this sad pace, achieving an average of 2.5 knots of speed. Today though, that had to change. It was time to bring out the spinny. I have to confess, it probably would have come out sooner had it not been for our dinghy blocking the forward hatch where we’d normally feed it out of the v-berth, but now we have to drag it back an extra five feet to feed it out of the other hatch. Either way, we finally got up the motivation today to give it a try.

It wasn’t even until late afternoon that we were able to give it a shot because of our sleep schedules. That’s the real kicker of these passages. By the time both of us are finally awake it’s normally two in the afternoon, and once we have the energy to actually do anything it’s already creeping past four or five. Which gives me a good two hours to be productive before it’s time to make dinner and then go to bed. So just like any other mostly lazy day, the spinnaker was not brought out until five in the afternoon.

*I should quickly mention that even though we’ve passed through about two time zones now, we have yet to change our clocks. Part of it is to do with keeping a schedule that allows Matt to be awake at the right times to download our weather, and the other part is, well, laziness. Whichever way you look at it though, it’s been leaving us with 4:30 am sunrises and 6:30 pm sunsets.

Just as the sun was starting to make it’s evening decent into the sky we were finally running the lines to the cockpit, hoping to get a good 2-3 hours of flying it before it was time for me to go to bed and it would need to be taken down. There is just no way that thing is worth messing around with in the dark.  Winds were currently holding at 6-8 knots, and although raising the spinnaker would not send us flying along, we thought it would be enough to hopefully kick us up to 3.5 knots. Something has to be better than nothing, right? I won’t call what happened next Murphy’s Law, but I’ll just call it Our Luck. We had just gotten the spinny raised and flying perfectly when the wind took a dip. Our 6-8 knots turned to 5-6, and then eventually 3-5. We kept it up for about 30 minutes, hoping a nice breeze would come by to fill it in, but it never did. So back down it came. It looks like we really will be completing this leg of the crossing at 2.5 knots.

 

Oh, I also had the shock of my life when I was on my shift last night and I heard a loud and expected clunk just feet from where I was sitting. I checked all the lines with a flashlight to make sure nothing had snapped, but I couldn’t see anything wrong. It wasn’t until I came back out during daylight that I was able to see fish scales sitting on the vinyl of the dodger. That must have been a pretty good jump! There was no body left on deck though, or trust me, Georgie would have found it.

fish scales on dodger

 

Tuesday July 15, 2014

Did this day actually exist in history? Because I don’t remember anything happening.

fish swimming next to boat

fish swimming next to boat

 

Wednesday July 16, 2014

Today was shaping up to be yet another forgettable day on Serendipity with only 550 miles under our keel since leaving Bermuda just over a week ago. I had my morning coffee, Matt was realizing a few things he messed up while working on boat projects yesterday (look, I did remember something!), and we were just settling into the cockpit and preparing to open our gift de jour. Having set it aside for a quick shower though, I went on deck to dry myself in the early afternoon sun when I noticed a familiar electric blue light passing through the water. “Matt”, I yelled to the back of the boat, “Our mahi is back”. Not the same one that escaped us before I’m sure, but one worth trying to catch nonetheless. Untying our hand reel from it’s normal stationary position at the stern, Matt brought it to the front of the boat as I tried to keep an eye on the large fish that was doing laps around our boat.

Conditions were once again incredibly calm as we drifted along on glass calm waters. As soon as I spotted the mahi was making it’s round from the back of the boat and toward us again, Matt threw the multi-colored lure in the water just in front of it. That fish didn’t even have time to think about what was happening, it just saw something land an inch from it’s face and went to nibble on it. We’d just caught our mahi! The question now was, could we keep it this time?

Without any time to prepare for actually catching a fish since I’d literally spotted it about 90 seconds earlier, we were in no way ready when we landed it. Matt began pulling it in toward the boat while I quickly ran to the back to grab the gaff. Food was beginning to get low and there was no way I was going to let this meal get away. Approaching Matt again with the sharp hook in my hand, he explained that he was going to hand the line over to me while he gaffed the fish and brought it on deck. Hearing about exhausting fights that other fishers have put up with while trying to bring in these powerful fish, I braced myself against the gunnel to keep myself from ending up in the water and getting dragged half way to Horta. Surprisingly though, there was no struggle.

At least, not until we got it on deck. Suddenly it began flexing it’s powerful muscles as it’s massive body started flipping all over the place. I had not been prepared for this and had no idea what to do next. I guess I assumed the gaff would kill it. Matt wasn’t quite sure what to do either and things were not handled well on either side. He began barking orders at me as I’m running around screaming ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know!’. What makes matters even worse is that he can tend to get flustered in these kind of situations where he’s all anxious but can’t tell me what he wants. “Get me the…uh…you know…the…the thing!!”. “What effing thing?! I don’t know what you need!”. “It’s the…uh..just get me a hammer..quick!!”.

So I fly down the steps and into the aft cabin where we now have two bags full of Matt’s tools, and I can not find the hammer in either one. I am now beyond anxious and pissed myself. Stomping (quickly) back up the stairs I yell at him “Your effing hammer is not in the effing tool bag, you need to start putting your s&%t away!”*, as the mahi is partially listening to our heated conversation and partially fighting for it’s life. “Just get me the damn winch handle”, he called back, ready to end this in any way possible. Snatching a spare one out of our combing I ran it up to him, a few hard smacks to the head later, this fish was definitely not going anywhere.

Pulling out our fillet knife and the Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing, all the while trying to keep Georgie confined to the cockpit, we cleaned our first fish caught by anything other than a pole spear. I’m not counting those barracuda we threw back in the Bahamas, or, tear, that mackerel we mistook for one.  Most of it was bagged and frozen, but I can tell you one thing.  I am having fresh fish for dinner tonight.

*This conversation is actually kind of hilarious because a.) We normally never yell or swear at each other and b.) if we do, it’s Matt yelling at me to put my things away because I never do.

Matt with mahi

filleting mahi

fresh mahi fillets

 

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2 thoughts on “Atlantic Crossing Part II Days 25-27: Fish On!

  1. Jessica,

    I realize I am commenting on this almost a year later (I’m catching up, I promise), but Holy Cheese & Crackers! Just drag the man behind the boat with a wench handle in his hand and you’ll never go hungry again!!!

    Matt,

    Wow!! Dude, did it make a crack about yo mama as you pulled it on board? You really grilled up a full rack of personal with a good slathering of vicious!!!

    Fair winds!

  2. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: Fish On! | Matt & Jessica's Sailing Page

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