Posts Tagged ‘Fishing’

Headin’ South and a little West

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Day 1: We upped anchor about 9 am after a good breakfast and running the generator. We wanted to be out of the pass before the tide switched; better to wash out than fight the current getting out.  While we waved to the residents of Tetautua I don’t think any were up and about or they just weren’t watching. Understandable but too a little disappointing.

We tooled across the harbor listening to our engine. The click we had started to hear was becoming more noticeable and I counted 2 / second at about 1,200 rpms. So I emailed that info to our shore support team and received a cryptic reply from one that he could not believe; since I’m an iPhone guy, that I didn’t have the strobe on the phone and did not have the tach set accurately.  Damn! I never thought to look in the App store but now I will add that to my list.

Even if the engine would have quit here we could have sailed out and if the winds are to do what history tells us we could sail all the way to Pago Pago, American Samoa and into the harbor and anchor; all under sail.

We did make is successfully across the lagoon under diesel power and leaving the pass a pod of dolphins waved good bye to us. Fish here were in a feeding frenzy and had we been up to it we could have dragged a line and caught at least something. But we were most concerned with getting our sea legs and setting the boat right for the trip South and West.  Too as we exited the lagoon the water was swirling about on the ocean side of the pass, boiling and turning over as if at the base of a waterfall. The lagoon water must be a bit higher than the ocean to create this effect. That happens because the wind driven waves are pushed into the lagoon over various shallow places in the atoll and the exit points are smaller than all the entrance points leaving the water level in the lagoon a tad higher than the ocean. When you are talking about trillions of liters of water pouring out a few small openings you end up with the whirlpools full of small fish just outside the door, a smorgasbord for lunching by the larger fish.

We set the Yankee, adjusted the wind vane and laid back with our books. It was looking like a fine day as we sailed on we looked up every so often to see our home of 5 months disappear below the horizon. We will miss our friends and life on the atoll.

Day 2: Yesterday we clocked close to 100 nm and while it’s not near our best day we were satisfied with the results. The sailing was easy and the ride a little uncomfortable. The seas as usual were not our friend and with the lighter than expected winds combined with left over swells from what looked like 3 different directions we were pushed around a bit. The movement of the boat necessitated always using one hand to hold on to the boat as we moved about below. The winds dropped off today and our second days run was in the low 80 miles.  W/’s been warming up the meals she had planned and the brownies I’m trying to stretch out for as long as I can. We’re feeling more normal and our sea legs are sprouting but I’ve not yet felt like putting a fishing line into the water. I hope maybe to tomorrow. Progress!

Day 3: In the am I usually fire up the SSB and using the Pactor to connect with either Sailmail or Airmail to get the new Gribs. I’m not sure why I do this as they are computer predictions of the weather and they are so often missing what is going on locally that the whole situation frustrates me, but I still do it.  W/ turned on the SSB for me as we started the day and her first words were “Oh-Oh”.  The Icom 802 didn’t switch on.  Time to see what the issue is. I’ve never had occur before but for most of our years cruising we had the SSB connected to a circuit breaker (against what the manual says), and on the trip from the Galapagos I figured to follow the manual. In the Galapagos I made the change and  connected the radio directly to the hot power post.  So I start to investigate; I check the connections and they all seem solid, I check the fuse and it tests good.  I put the fuse back in and hit the switch – Boom!  the radio has power.  In one of my emails to my shore support team both Mike and Dirk tell me they have had their radios lock up too and had to depower the connections and then connect them back up.  Oh well, something new to keep in mind. Fortunately for the rest of the trip we had no more issues with the Icom.

Today I gave in and drug a lure about 50 nm+ and nothing, not even a bite, nor nibble. There just doesn’t seem to be any fish here. We’ve not even seen any other boats around. None, Nada, Zip!

Broken Bracket

Broken Bracket

Day 4: Last night W/ thought the generator sounded noisier than usual. Well; since we were beginning our night watch and there was no immediate need to start a project that could be saved till we are both rested and there is light out I would look at it in the am. With first light I found the adjustable bracket for the alternator had broken. Just @$#%^^@#$ amazing!  The belt was still on and had a bit o’ tension I figured we could run it under reduced load and since the only thing we really used power for last night was the sailing light (1 amp) and the iPad (another amp or less) the batteries wouldn’t have been drawn down much. First I pulled off the bracket so it wouldn’t rattle back and forth then we charged the batteries and ran the refrigeration compressor. That done I set about to create a Willy Wonka – Rube

Aquagen Broken Bracket ready to reinstall

Aquagen Broken Bracket ready to reinstall

Goldberg repair. I had enough play in the bracket I could shorten it a bit and put it back on.  W/ and I set about to drill a hole in each piece and then I would pin it with a bolt.  And that we did, while the boat rocked and rolled, W/ held the plastic cutting board over the bucket (I didn’t want to drill into the boat) and I balanced as well as possible and we drilled. I drilled a bit; W/ added a small amount  of oil to the bit tip. What seemed like an hour later we had two holes drilled in the SS bracket. I then inserted the bolt and a locking nut. Later in the day when the generator had cooled down I would put the bracket back on.

We weren’t flying along but we were making progress to our destination. Today I dragged two lures in the water and had no strikes. However; when I retrieve the lures  some of the plastic fringe was missing on one of them with my only conclusion being that one pescado had decided to taste test before swallowing the whole thing and after said test decided this was not the fare he wished.  Again a day without a nice fish.

Day 5: I have the bracket replaced and it’s doing its job. I still have the generator turned down because when we tried to run the alternator at greater power the belt was screaming at us. Neither of us love to hear that talk from the system and more so I don’t like the belt dust that a slipping belt creates.

About an hour after sunrise I hear my fishing real zing!  A fish. I grab the rod and yell at W/ to get my fishing belt. I get the rod out of the holder and look for what we have hooked!  Wow! A bill fish. This will be fun. As we’re only traveling about 3 kts I just hoped to stop the fish and then drag it through the water eventually killing it so I can bring it aboard.  But stopping the fish was never in his future. He jumped several times all the while my line was still ripping off the real.  I was getting close to the end and yet the entire time I was increasing the tension on the real trying to stop the loss of line.  I had it cranked up as far as it would go and then the line reached the end where everything sat in stasis for a few seconds only to reward the fish with a “Ping”. He just snapped a 100 lb test line.  As Dirk says, “You don’t really want a fish that big anyway” and ironically fate decided the same thing. No fish, just a fish story.

Day 6: The winds have really, I mean really died.  We are now floating. All sails are down, the helm is tied off and the only movement we have is from the waves and currents. Unfortunately the seas have not died near as fast and so we are bobbing around much more than either of us would wish.  Today we make all 20 some miles. We attempt to sail 3

No Puffs even in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean

No Puffs even in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean

times and have a grand ol’ speed of about 2-3 kts at the best of times. During the second try sailing I noticed I could see a small patch of blue where red should be in our drifter. A part of the seam either chafed or let go. When the sail is down I will stitch it back together.  I download a very large area GRIB and discover that 300 miles south of us the trough that had run to Samoa from the higher latitudes has formed into a L pressure system. Fortunately it’s 300 miles S. Unfortunately it has cut off our winds. Fortunately it is 300 miles S. Unfortunately it throws up squalls and sometimes

Fixing a seam on the Drifter

Fixing a seam on the Drifter

thunderstorms. For the last couple of nights we’ve been watching a wonderful lightening show south of us. Now we know the cause. And it was wonderful because it was 300 nm  S of us.

Day 7: Becalmed again. With the drifter back 100% we’re able to fly it again without concern. We look forward to moving again. Some might ask why we don’t motor and had the engine been running perfect and we had adequate fuel we would have. We have about 40 gallons of diesel saved for the main engine and since I don’t know exactly what the tick, tick, ticking is I want to save the engine for the final entrance to Pago Pago. Today, trying to move in the direction we need to go we made 8 sail changes. Our boat is not set up for the fast easy sailing like some boats where you push a button and roll up a sail or roll it out. I believe in the KISS method of cruising (Keep It Simple Stupid).  I’ve seen too many in mast furling problems to have a system like that in as remote a place as the Pacific. I reef the main, I throw the reef out, we hoist the drifter, set the pole, douse the drifter and store it below deck. We put up the staysail and reef the main; all the while trying to find the right sails to keep moving.  Early afternoon we again sit, sails down, going nowhere. By now however the seas had dropped to nothing matching the winds and Neptune was undulating like a giant breathing while sleeping on it’s back. We rolled slightly but moving on the boat was close to being anchored in the lagoon.  By evening we had some breaths of air and were sailing again.

Day 8: Sailing in light air is magical. Sailing at night too has it’s own magic and if you combine them you have one of the rare moments we all love. We were making about 3 kts on a flat sea with stars shining brightly framing the Milky Way.  For 5 hours we were in Heaven.  By early am we were again becalmed and this would be our last time. We have now crossed the line to the last 100 miles to go. I’m thinking that if we get within 50 miles of Pago Pago and there is still no wind we will fire up the ol’ Perkins and take the risk.

Day 9: Much like the earlier days we were making progress but it was in the 2-3 kt range.  My fishing wasn’t going all

Even the Birds liked the Lures

Even the Birds liked the Lures

that well but I did drag two lines and one spinner on a sinking rig.  Somewhere in the late am we hooked a white fish only to be surprised when we pulled it in it was  a beautiful Tropic Bird.  The good thing about Neptune is nothing goes to waste out here so we gave her back to the sea.  Damn. Lures out again later in the am I got another strike. This fish I never saw. By the time I reached the rod the line was ripping out like a marathon runner had grabbed it.  I again tried to increase the drag stopping the fish but he would have none of that. Out the line ripped and at the end I could see the line stretch and then “Ping”, it parted.  Damn!  Only one lure left. And to my chagrin while the line had paused at one point and I stupidly put my thumb on the real, the fish had decided to make another run at freedom leaving me with a nice friction burn on my thumb.  Now I’m down to only one lure and one good thumb. The blue and white lure had to be the one to catch something. It hasn’t received much notice and I’ve not used that color much but since it’s my last lure I’m trying it. Mid afternoon we get another hit. Since we now only have one line to worry about I go to grab the rod and W/ is watching the end seeing what fish we might have.  She later reports it as some wide bodied silver fish. But as in my other scenarios this one too rips off all my line even as I tighten down the drag on the real. I am afraid I have both reals now burned up and will have to check them in port. Af the end of the day, I have 4 lures now in Neptune’s hands and no fish.  Some exciting fishing but nothing to take pictures of.

Day 10: After the squall last night and clicking off quite a few miles while the stars passed slowly overhead we were both up in the am contemplating our arrival. We had two options; if the winds stayed we could go for it and if it became to dark we could heave to offshore. If we were close enough to dusk we could motor in. Dirk (part of our shore support) had indicated that the harbor is safe to enter at night -he however did not, and the author of a cruising guide said that he had entered the harbor at night when the power was actually out. But night entrances are often fraught with dangers and if we could we would like to enter while the Sun still lit the way.  We decided to go for it.  We shook out one reef in the main (we still had one in. We pulled out the Yankee and added the staysail. We were making 6+ kts for a good part of the am with the winds slowly dying out. But; we were closing in. Early pm we saw the mountains of American Samoa and we felt we could make it in and anchored while it was light yet. About 3 miles out the winds had lightened enough that we started up the engine and I began furling the sails. Passing through the outer reef we were greeted by another pod of Dolphins. Either they beat us here or their cousins told them of our impending arrival. The site of them swimming near the boat, surfacing and diving filled us with the joy that comes when when you have shared your time on the ocean with them. We cleared the outer reef and both of us were quite relieved. We still had light, the sails were furled, and we were motoring towards a good night’s rest. We entered the harbor proper and moved to the back where the small boats (like us) were anchored. There we dropped 200′ of chain with our trusty CQR  in about 35′ of water and sat down elated and exhausted. One of the best things about any passage is the first night’s sleep. I’m reminded of how I slept in high school or college. Like a baby!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Got Outa PC

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

We’ve pulled up anchor and we’re moving. Yep out of Panama City. We’ll return one more time to pickup the new Kubota, some more supplies, and the French Polynesian stamp; then we’re outa here. About time. But now we’re heading to Contadora, Las Perlas.

For  most  of the trip we motor. Best motoring one can have. The seas are so small we have no spray. The cockpit shade is up and we’re heading about 120 degrees. There is a small current against us but we persevere. We have two fishing lines out, my secret weapon; the lure that is under the surface, and the Dirk lure; the surface lure but this time without the hook protector. Yeah, he left the protector on for our last trip here.

Young Bull Mahi-Mahi

Young Bull Mahi-Mahi

About 1/2  way there we hook a nice small Bull dolphin and thanks to Dirk and Silvie’s advice I actually land him. I do it all Dirk’s way. Get him up to the boat as fast as I can and then grab the line and swing him aboard. No fancy gaff, no net. He jumps a few times on his way to the boat trying to dislodge the hook and I pull him across the top of the water as rapidly as I can. While he’s out of the water he has no control. At the boat I swing him aboard and W/ throws a towel over his head. Blinded he calms down a bit. I hold head and tail while W/ grabs a small line and a knife. I tie a noose around his tail and to the boat. I’m not losing this one! And then I slice his gills and we hang him upside down in a bucket to bleed out.

An hour later I begin to clean him. But my tush is no where near as petite as Silvie’s and I just can’t handle a knife, the fish and myself safely in the gunel so W/ assents to me finishing him up on the cockpit sole. Once competed we have some nice fillets for quite a few meals.

Soon after the winds pickup and we motor sail the rest of the way through some Red Tide areas and finally make the turn to Contadora where we unhappily pick up  some spray covering the port side with salt water. Oh well, guess it had to happen. It just  couldn’t have been a “perfect day” only  close.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Light Speed Part II

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Light Speed part II

We left the nice quiet, calm, bug free anchorage and began our trek back N towards civilization. We left early enough to make our approach during good light but this left us fighting the current and adverse wind around the W side of the Perlas. We were motoring so this was not a comfortable ride. I have a simple philosophy: If the time required to work the sails and set everything up and take everything down is greater then the travel time then the payoff isn’t worth it-so we motor. Granted this was close call, but we still have to motor in and out of the anchorage. Plus I get the added benefit of running the refrigeration system. So we motor.

Contadora, Las Pearlas Islands, Panama

Contadora, Las Perlas Islands, Panama

After a mildly rough ride we begin our approach to Contadora, the semi posh tourist town in the Perlas.  The anchorage isn’t the best but we do hope to avoid the “Bouncy, Bouncy” we’ve had more frequently then we would have liked.  The anchorage was farther from the beach then I had hoped for; in approx 50′ of water but we were here, the anchor down, and we were relatively calm. Dirk chooses to hang on the boat,  playing with my computer stuff, making sure it all works right and is integrated properly. He used OpenCPN with most of their circumnav and I’m just learning it. So the “younger brother* is teaching the older one the tricks of that program.

W/, Silvie, and I went ashore, to get some more gasoline for the dinghy and scope out the island. We discovered it was quite different from those on the Caribbean side. The roads were in good shape, we

Deer in Panama

Deer in Panama

walked without fear of being run over, and we discovered deer!  What a surprise. They seemed about the size of Key Deer and they were a little shy but not like the white tail deer in the states that at a whiff of people they would be off bounding across fields and jumping barbed wire fences like us walking over a crack in the sidewalk.  These deer hung around for a bit and then slowly meandered off looking for more food to forage.

We found that on Contadora some of the population still believe in siestas. The gasoline store (not gas station) was closed so we meandered to the beach, some shade and a few cool beers. An hour later we too had slowed down to latin time and took about 15 more minutes to decide that we could indeed wander back towards the boat and pick up some gasoline, then see if Dirk was sound asleep or into other mischief. As usual, he was into mischief, still on my computer making sure it is configured right for OpenCPN, making sure the peripherals worked and then attempting the tough task of showing me what I need to know.

But I resisted the class room approach. We had only had breakfast; well, I  and W/ did, Dirk and Silvie had their required 36 cops of coffee ( I exaggerate a wee bit), and I was getting low on blood sugar and cranky. The girls pushed and pushed (really I did but I do like to blame them) and we all finally crawled in the dinghy for a trip to a real restaurant. There in I gorged on food and lacking social amenities slurped my beer. As all of us were hungrily eating no one noticed.

That evening it was decided to head the following day to Taboga and the day after to Panama City where our well worn crew was to depart. 🙁  .  In sailing circles we often say plans are written in water and this is a perfect example of that saying. The following am our crew changed their minds and we were to head to Panama City and skip Taboga.  We had a leisurely breakfast (W/ and I) Dirk and Silvie received their oral injection of caffeine, we picked up anchor and motored West to round the Northern end of the Perlas. Once free of the islands we hoped to sail.

And sail we did; for about an hour. Most of 30 minutes the winds were steady and we were heading in the right direction. We had our fishing lines out; Dirk with his fancy surface lure and the hook protecter REMOVED! I with my dirt cheap hand line.  Near the end of the hour the winds were going light on us, the wind vane lines having been connected backwards sorted out, we chose to furl the sails and start the engine. So it is again, we motor the last 30 miles back to PC.

Our 12 lb Tuna

Our 12 lb Tuna

Somewhere not long after and maybe a little before we made this change; I received a strike on my hand line. Again the clothes pin was snapped but the fish wasn’t at the surface. I began to tug on the line and indeed there was a fish. We repeated the previous fishing experience, Dirk swinging it on board, Silvie severing the gills and hanging it upside down. This one; a 12 lb Tuna was going to be food for awhile. We pulled in our lines and took care of the boat for the rest of the trip. Dirk playing (he would say “working on”) OpenCPN and making sure the AIS was working.

We were not getting any AIS signals in Contadora and Dirk thought we should be. I wasn’t worried but worse case scenario is that we travel the Pacific without the AIS. The boat traffic in the S. Pacific is quite minimal and in Samoa we’ll be able to replace the box. But as in many of life’s little adventures; patience works wonders and as we came closer to the Panama Canal AIS targets began to show up. Wonderful!  One more item I don’t need to replace.

We arrived back in Panama City anchoring on the side within full view of the Panama skyline. There we set about cleaning up the boat, preparing dinner and cooling off with some really, good, really cold, Balboas (the Panama) beer. After a dinner of fresh Tuna we chewed the fat, told some more lies (sailing stories), all over some invented drinks by W/ and Silvie; Coconut water with Rum and Coconut water with Coconut Rum.

The following day our crew packed up. While it was a sad time, we know as sailors that there are no goodbyes, only Ciao; until we meet again. I dropped them all off at the beach; since low tide was now, and motored over to the “stairs of death”- the cruisers dinghy dock. W/, Silvie, and Dirk hauled their bags up the beach over the rocks and parked at the restaurant until I arrived for breakfast. There a quiet meal was had, taxi hailed, hugs shared and waves goodbye.  As with Jenny leaving, Dirk and Silvie left a hole in our hearts as they headed back home to the land of everything.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

* Sometimes in life you discovered people very much like yourself. Dirk and I are in many ways similar and a few not; one’s good looking and the other is smart 🙂 , one prefers to move often and the other very little. But we both love the water, we both are cautious, conscientious sailors, we both love beer (but I can’t keep up with him anymore) and in many ways we are more alike than different. Silvie and W/ sometimes smile when one of us mimics the other in words or actions. So I think of him as my little brother. He is one of the few people that I would trust my boat to, knowing that it would be returned to me in as good as or better shape than I left it. Trust is one of the few things in life that needs to be earned (IMHO) and he has earned it many times over.

Light Speed Part I

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

With Dirk and Silvie aboard we headed to Taboga the next day. Dirk travels fast. With him Silvie is pulled in his wake like drafting a semi on I-80.  And now we’re all drafting Dirk.

In sail boating circles talking about speed is like discussing how fast corn grows. You know it grows because you planted it a few months earlier and now one could easily get lost in the field. But with boats and owners arguing the merits of how fast their boat goes IMHO is just, well, downright comical. We go  X number of knots, Hell! we travel Y knots. Oh we make XYZ miles.  But no matter what, we all  travel around the speed of a bicycle.  Yeah, some bikes go a little faster than others, some cars too, but then you have jets, and fighter jets, and then rockets. Compared with other modes of transportation boats go damn slow.

Life however is different. The way one person lives is molasses to another. And that is Dirk and Silvie and Wendy and I. They traveled 28k miles in 3 years, we’ve traveled maybe 5 k in 5 years. However the Pacific will raise our mileage a bit but we just like to meander.

Where to Next?

Where to Next?

With Dirk  here meandering will be difficult. First the Mules (Dirk, Silvie, and Jenny) wanted to visit Taboga when we cleared the last lock, dropped off the advisor, and rid ourselves of the fenders and lines.  That didn’t happen, but as we’ve now lost Jenny back to the land of instant everything; we head to Taboga.

There we pick up a mooring and enjoy the afternoon. It’s kind of dreamy. Dirk and Silvie  and W/ jump in for a refreshing swim, I hang on board; content to do nothing.

Hangin in Taboga, Panama

Hangin in Taboga, Panama

But that doesn’t last long. Within minutes of Dirk back on board he’s thinking of heading ashore. Ok, lets start the dinghy engine.

Now don’t get me wrong. I appreciate his approach, just his timing has me discombobulated. It would take me a day or so before we got the engine going and without his assistance maybe more. He has the genes for working with mechanical things. I mean, for him it’s innate. He said we should try it hanging on the pulpit before we get the dinghy down and all set up. So we put gas in the tank and give it a few pulls. She turns over but not even a sputter.  Damn good thing the dinghy is not in the water waiting to go ashore.  We take a break. Then we pull the spark plug, clean it and check for a spark. Now we’re on my time schedule. To check for a spark we wait till it’s dark.  Dirk grounds the plug and I pull the cord. Yep we have a spark! Should work, doesn’t. No shore side visits tonight.

The boat is moving a bit. The winds have shifted to the NE and we’ve a good chop coming in to the anchorage. The Lison crew called it “Bouncy Bouncy”. It’s decided that as pretty as Taboga is from the water we don’t have to go ashore right now. The anchorage isn’t the most comfortable so we might as well head out to the Perlas tomorrow. We find rest by looking at the back sides of our eyelids and the following am we head off for the Perlas.

Near after first light, before the circumnavigaters have their first hit of caffeine W/ and I are furling the awning and preparing the boat for sea. While it’s only 30 nm or so we need to ensure things don’t change places. At least without some human making the change happen. We wake up the vacationers and within short order are on our way.

Dirk ; whose internal motor comes the closest to a perpetual motion machine, decides to begin fishing. First however he needs to replace some old monofiliment line on the fishing poles. On one pole the replacement goes well while the other reel is frozen. Without concern he gets one line in the water and I decide to put in the  line from our hand reel that has’t been used since we’ve been cruising.  The hand reel has a line out with a shiny jig and

Magic Planer

Magic Planer

a Planer (that allows one to fish at a specific depth).  Dirk’s fancy setup has a new Dolphin catching surface lure. W/ was at the helm and we were motoring towards our target; 5 hours away.  I started to take apart the other reel to get it working.We watched as  W/ steered by many fish balls with birds feeding from above and larger fish feeding on the fry from below.  Dirk watched his lure expecting to hook a fish any minute. I had most of the reel apart and was letting the lubricant soak into the various gears. When I went back on deck I saw that my clothes pin warning had snapped.

I run the line out the midship hawse pipe and it is heavy line. Able to carry well over 100 kg of weight. To that I have attached the Planer, There I run out 50 lb test to a swivel and then I attach a 10′ wire leader. Don’t want the fish biting through the leader. On that is a shinny jig.  By adjusting the speed we troll at and how much line is out the Planer moves to a specific depth. The more line from the boat to the Planer the deeper it trolls. The faster you go the deeper it trolls. I don’t know exactly what depth I troll at but I only let out about 50 feet of the heavy stuff and the rest just runs behind the Planer.  When a fish grabs the lure the Planer is tripped to rise to the surface and then the line goes taught and the hook is set. At this point my little clothes pin announces a potential fish by being pulled free. I can then see a fish being pulled along the surface if indeed I’ve hooked a fish. Some fish are still strong enough to stay down and I won’t see them. So I need to tug on the line and see if there is any extra pull or movement at the other end. “Dirk, I’ve got a fish”! Dirk first reels in the extra line; we don’t need two fish at once, and then comes to where the hooked fish is and begins to hand over hand the line bringing the fish the boat.  Now, I’m not a great line fisherman. I fish only by trolling and my ability to land fish is about 50%, up to now. Dirk is a good fisherman, notice I did not say “sport fisherman”.  He knew the size leader I had and saw that the fish was well hooked. Instead of accepting my gracious offer of a Gaff he just told everyone to move back as he was bringing it aboard. Silvie knew what was happening and was ready, W/ stayed at the helm mesmerized by this, new to us, method, and I stood back.  He donned leather gloves wrapped the line to hold it well and swung that fish out of the water and onto the boat. Flopping away Silvia secured the fish, I got a knife and then she opened up the gills. Dirk grabbed the bucket and we tied the fish’s tail to the life line and hung it head down to bleed into the bucket.

Hangin By the Tail

Hangin By the Tail

Now W/ is happy that Dirk and Silvia are here. Really happy!   I would have the fish in the cockpit flopping and bleeding all over the place.  The pros (Dirk and Silvie) tell us that this method limits the blood in the fish.  They let the fish hang long enough for rigormortise to set in. That aids in filleting the fish.  We untangle the hand line and begin trolling with both lines again. The fish is left tied by the tail and hanging upside down dripping into a bucket. W/’s smile is big; she knows I’ll be doing my next fish cleaning with this method.

Maybe W/ knew more than the rest of us. Silvie cleaned the fish an hour later. Rigormortise set in and as the fish was now bled out and firm it was an easy task to clean it in the gunnel. Easy for her. She’s rather petite and I just can’t get my big behind between the cockpit and the outside of the boat, not enough to clean a fish. Right now however Silvie is doing a mighty fine job. Not long after she finishes Dirk  thinks he had a hit as the pole end quivers and then stops. I check my

Cleaning the Peanut Dolphin

Cleaning the Peanut Dolphin

planer and while the line seems to be acting funny I don’t see anything on there. But Dirk tells me he thinks there is and I begin bringing in the line. And by God! There is. I hand over the line to the master fish lander and then; just in case we need it I go to find a gaff. Again he said to forget it. Again we bring the fish up to the boat and viola, he swings it aboard. Silvie covers it with an old towel to settle it down, then I hand her the filet knife. She puts two nice cuts on both sides of it’s gills and we again hang this one face down in a bucket. A nice Peanut Mahi – Mahi.  Tonight we have fresh fish.  Silvie repeats the process from earlier and we have 4 fresh filets cooling in  the refrigerator.

About now we’re getting close to the Perlas and so Dirk and I bring in the fishing lines as navigating is more important then catching more fish. For some odd reason Dirk informs us why he didn’t catch any fish, not even the one that attacked the lure. HE LEFT ON THE HOOK PROTECTOR!  Now that is funny, I’m busting a gut laughing and W/ and Silvie are looking at each other like; “How could the master ever do that”?  But I have to say while I hooked ALL the fish, Dirk landed them. In the end who did what doesn’t really matter. What matters is …. they tasted DAMN GOOD!

We anchor in the cut by Moga Moga where the first US TV show Survivor was filmed. The crew stayed on the plush resort island of Contadora while the victims stay on the uninhabited island Moga Moga. There is a great deal of current running and the sea life in these islands is extremely prolific. This evening Dirk shines his light in the water and a school of a million fry swim towards it; I guess looking for salvation because they were not getting any food from us. Not then anyway.

Before the Sun set, before we had our fresh fish dinner, before I sat down with an evening drink, Dirk had the little engine that didn’t on the boom gallows checking it out. First we checked the fuel. I smelled gas but it did look funny. He had us drain it into a cup and it looked; well, not like gasoline. We drained more. Finally we had gas.  Sitting in the rainy season out on the pushpit the tank decided to fill itself with some fresh water. No wonder it wouldn’t start. We (mainly Dirk ) cleaned the tank and then checked the bowl. The float pin had come off. Now this is my fault. I thought the float screw had to be backed off a turn or so and I had done that when I decommissioned the engine and drained all the fuel lines. Varnished lines, bowls, and jets do not make a happy engine.  He politely ( and I do mean that) informed me that they need to be screwed in tight.  Once we did that, and had good fuel to the bowl / engine he pulled the cord and viola, bang! the damn thing started. Tomorrow we explore.

A Damn nice Pair...of Wheels

A Damn nice Pair...of Wheels

The next am we motored to the island looking for survivors but alas, we found none.  However there were some truly unspoiled beaches. The tidal range here at times is close to  20′ and keeps the beaches clean and without footprints. Dirk finds our wheels on the dinghy a cool gadget and adds them to his cruising list. (He does this by taking a picture and writes nothing down).   A good part of the am we wander the island for new views of our boat and just checking out the surrounding area.

Now Dirk and I have a slightly comical (to me)  running battle. Dirk IMHO has to move every day.  He’s like a shark he has to move or he’ll die (know that Sharks don’t really have to move to live). I on the other hand like to sit a spell. But it is their vacation and I’m content to indulge him / them. And besides, Elysium is coming out ahead. We have things working that would have taken me a week or more to get working and it still might not have been right.  Dirk completes in hours what it would easily take me a day or more to do. So we move… again… to another anchorage. As the last two have been a bit; bouncy, bouncy, I chide him about this one and if so it will be the last one he chooses on board Elysium.

We head south a few miles and anchor near sv Rachel. When we came through the canal Rachel came out to the flats, anchored and then left. When we were through the canal in Las Brisas Rachel came in and the following day left. When we came in to Survivor Island, sv Rachel was there and after we anchored she left. (BTW I won a beer off betting she would leave 🙂 . )  We now came into our new anchorage and sv Rachel was there too. Not long after our arrival she left. She left us with a gorgeous beach, a small island to play on and a quiet – calm (finally) anchorage. Me thinks I won another beer here but my memory is becoming a little off with all these victories. 🙂

Dirk  took the dinghy out for a spin making some final adjustment to the engine, Silvie,  W/ and I put up the awnings and prepared for an afternoon of luxury. W/ chose the beach, Silvie and I chose to snorkel the little island and Dirk just figured he’d hang out in the dinghy and play chauffeur. I took my new Lobster gun hoping to find something. While I saw no lobster, no crab, I did see some good fish swim by and unfortunately they knew the length of this little guy (about 4′ was it’s range) and so while I took some shots I scored no kills.

An hour later we were back aboard, washing the salt and sand off our tropically tanned bodies, preparing dinner,  just plain enjoying the evening. I dreaded the following day!  No need, Dirk liked where we were and we actually spent two nights anchored here …. in Paradise.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

2 Panama

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Black Fin Tuna

Black Fin Tuna

Veteran cruisers will tell you that an overnight passage is just as tiring as say a 3 day passage.  You spend a day getting ready, you leave and your sleep schedule is out of whack, your feel for a moving boat is out of whack, and your eating style is disrupted. Then you arrive, same anxiety with one’s landfall in a day as one landfall 3 or more days down the line, you find a place to anchor and you spend a day resting and getting the boat back to a comfortable livable condition. You clean up and put things away. Wash the boat if you can, wash the jacklines, the foul weather gear, the safety harnesses. Fold and cover the sails, coil and store the sheets. We wipe down the cabin floor as no matter how we try, salt from the feet seems to work it’s way to the cabin sole.

So we made it to Snug Harbor where we dropped the hook in 40′ of water. A long way down.

On the way across we started out motoring the first day as the winds were light out of the NE. About 5 hours outside of San Bernardo’s, Colombia we felt we had enough breeze to put up some sails. We shut down the engine and heaven descended upon us. The quiet, the movement for all intents and purposes of a boat mimicking life. The sails are doing their job and pulling approximately 40,000 lbs across a 150 nm stretch of water. We were sailing about 4 kits but we didn’t care. The water was relatively flat like a lake and we were going towards our destination at a comfortable speed with an easy motion.

I put out two fishing lines. It was time to feed the Mahi-Mahi.  For the last 1,000 nm’s they’ve been attacking and taking my plastic lures.  I was hoping on this trip to catch one at the theft and haul their rainbow colored bodies aboard to feed the ships crew for a few days.

As the day wore on and we continued to pull away from the South American Continent the breeze slowly increased to a pleasant 10-15 kits. So too did the boat and we were now in the Indianapolis speed zone of 5-6 knots, the speed of a good runner. Once we reached the 5 kt range we heard a zing of the line on our reel.  I race as fast as I can on a moving boat to grab the rod in hopes of landing this one. The Mahi makes a couple leaps out of the water trying to shake the hook free and then peels off more line, and I’m excited. W/’s been cranking in the other line; although two fish landed would be great we have enough difficulty landing one fish at a time.  She’s a large one!  I let the line run out and then just about the time W/ has the other lure cranked in my line goes slack. DAMN!  There goes Dinner, Lunch, Dinner, Lunch, Dinner, etc. She would have fed us for a few days.

So after a few of my selected choice words issued towards the kingdom of fish I put the one line back out and crawled below to grab another lure. I’ve now given the fish about half a dozen of the plastic lures to feed on.  I wonder if I have heavy enough line (80 lb test) and I’m wondering if I should replace it a little more often. RIght now the line has been on the reels for about 3 years. But this is not the place to do that so I file that info in my dusty cranium and dig out another lure. Rig it and release it. We’re cruising along now about 6 kits and the lures are doing their wonderful dance to the surface and then they dive a foot or so beneath it trailing a stream of bubbles a couple of meters long. We both go back to our tasks, reading, day dreaming, and just watching in awe the deep royal blue of open water. We’re settled in for the afternoon.

Zing!  Zing!  One reel runs out quickly and then stops, 2 seconds the other line takes off.  Another fish. Again the same dance, I race and try to make sure we don’t loose this one. The line is peeling out faster then ever and I’m afraid it will get to the end and then snap. Slowly I increase the drag on the line as the Mahi endeavors to steal more and more of it.  Feeling like I’ve been at this 1/2 an hour but knowing that it’s been most likely 5 minutes, I have him stabilized with about 10 wraps of line left on the reel. Since W/ now has the other line  pulled in she’s at the helm.  As we’re traveling too fast and the fish is fighting for his life (Yeah, it looked like a Bull Mahi – Mahi to me when it jumped) she points the boat into the wind a bit to slow it down while I begin to reel the beast in. We spend close to twenty minutes more, luffing the boat, falling off, luffing, falling off and all the while I’m inching the line in and bringing the succulent dinner to the boat.  He makes a couple of more runs and peels out some line but I’m slowly winning!  Or so I think.

As we finally get him closer to the boat I can see his figure down in the water and W/ has the gaff ready. She luffs the boat up a bit more so I can reel some more line in and he takes off across the stern dragging the line to the other side of the boat. I carefully hand the pole across the back of the boat to myself not wanting to get the line tangled in the windvane or rubbing  across the backstay.

He’s now swimming beside the boat about 40 feet away and I have W/ turn the boat to bring him more astern, he obviously hears me and shoots off towards the bow and under the boat. I feel the line drag across the bottom of the boat and fear the worse. Another fight lost with a fish, another lure gone and one tired puppy; me. But; he’s still there and pops up by the stern and I still feel him on the line. Hurray!  I begin to keep the line taught and he makes another mighty stab towards freedom.

The line goes slack, I scream, and we begin to sail towards Panama again.  What have I to show for all this effort; 5 blisters on two hands and a long story to tell.

I’m so tired the rest of the day we don’t trail any more lures. With the blisters on my hands I don’t think I could actually reel the fish in and with as much as Mahi’s  fight and no fighting chair I don’t want to risk losing the pole, and I don’t want to risk losing W/ over the side.

We have a delightful sail till about midnight when the breeze starts to abate and by 3 am we’re again using the Iron Genny (engine) and motoring towards Panama.

As the sun rises we begin to search for land. We’re scanning the waters edge intently when I see fish leaping out of the water. Yesterdays loss is becoming a distant memory and with a new day comes new visions of capture. More fish jump (Black fin Tuna) and so I trail just one line. Less then an hour later we hear a zing of the reel and I go to crank in what ever we have.  I don’t know what this one is, I suspect it was another Mahi- as it peels out line quite fast and then boom it too was gone.  I may be stupid but I don’t like giving up. I dig out another lure (I’m going to need to get some more) and sent it back into the deep blue. We spot Land and yell the required mantra “Land – Ho”, we’re motoring, we’re fishing – maybe best to say we’re feeding the fish plastic lures. and we’re hopeful. Hopeful that we’ll soon be cleaning a nice catch and then look forward to rest.

Zing!  Again we go through the land a fish dance. Since we’re motoring it is easier for W/ to slow down, motor forward, and turn the boat. We don’t need to be concerned about the sails and gybing or luffing and popping as the wind fills them in.  I slowly make progress and we bring the fish to the boat. W/ has the gaff ready but as I see it’s a Black Fin Tuna and only a few pounds so he’s close enough to the boat I swing him aboard.  W/’s ready with the Rum (we kill the fish with kindness – He dies in a drunken bliss) and we pour it directly onto his gills. I filet him and toss the carcass back to Neptune for further consumption. Nothing goes to waste in the ocean.

By noonish we’ve made landfall and are motoring towards Snug Harbor hoping that the name fits. We find a calm place to anchor, drop the hook, take care of some projects on the boat and immediately begin our R n R.  We’ll clear in when we get to Porviner in a couple of days. For now the stars are calling and the cow is ready to jump over the moon.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long