Sunday, March 27, 2011

First Day of the Passage from Mexico to the Marquesas

We left Barra de Navidad yesterday (March 26th, 2011) at around 11am. The winds were pretty light and directly out of the west (the direction we wanted to go) for the first few hours. There were sea birds diving all around us and we could see the water roiling with bait fish and their predators so we decided to put a line in the water and see what happened. Given our dismal record as fishermen (fisherpeople?), we weren't really expecting to catch anything. I had put the rod in its holder on the rail and started to work on the daily lubrication of the windvane steering system (see previous entry on the subject) when the line started paying out of the reel. My first reaction was to accuse Christine, who was sitting near the rod, of bumping it and letting line out. Thankfully, she pointed out the obvious for me; there was actually a fish on the line.

This was my first time with a fish over the size of about ten inches on a line and I wasn't entirely sure what I was supposed to do so, like any good American, I just did what I'd seen people do on TV. I took the rod out of the holder, braced in on my waist, let the fish run a bit of line out, increased the line tension, yanked the rod up in the air when I felt a little slack, and cranked the reel as I brought the pole back down. Apparently, this was the correct thing to do because I soon had some sort of tuna flopping around on the deck. It actually was pretty damn fun to reel the critter in, see what it was, and hoist it on deck. I can understand a bit of why people get so into sport fishing but there was one problem. Once we had it on deck, we quickly realized that while we knew the general principles of what comes next, we were really fuzzy on the details.

Christine gaffed our catch on to the deck where it promptly started to bleed all over the place. I knew that some violent clubbing of the fish's head was called for so I looked around from something club like. The only thing at hand was a long metal handle for our windless so I used that to whacked the crap out of fishy friend. More blood followed and this was where our grasp of fishing procedures ended and Christine had to consult a fishing handbook that we had on board. Turns out there's a lot to the process of killing one of these things correctly. Who knew? We followed the instructions as best we could and got some big fillets out of it but the meat was very dark. We ate as much of it as we could but it didn't taste great. I think we blew it on the processing and we felt pretty bad about killing a decent sized fish that high up in the food chain - not to mention the mess we made on deck - so we made a new rule. We will do no more fishing until two conditions are satisfied: 1) Our supply of fresh meat is exhausted. 2) We read up on how to properly kill these things for maximum tastiness.


Just to make matters more entertaining, we were under sail the whole time this was going on and with all the fish handling, boat handling took a back seat so we were steering a somewhat erratic course. It just so happened that the Mexican navy was within sight and decided to motor over on their big scary looking steel boat to have a look at us. We smiled and waved as they came around behind us and photographed the back of our boat, presumably to read our name and hailing port off the transom. Just as they passed behind us, I managed to lose hold of the bucket I was using to pull up salt water to rinse the deck with and it went overboard. So, within plain view of the navy, we tacked around awkwardly while still managing fishing gear and made a failed attempt to retrieve our bucket. Oh well, we have lots of buckets.

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