Saturday 9 May, 4.59 pm (175 miles SW of the Isle of Pines)
All was quiet. The sun beat down on the happy trio of Will, Kathy and Martin, relaxing in the cockpit discussing world events, as Bob caught some rest below and I began whipping up some cheese scones for lunch and preparing raspberry jelly for dinner – as you do.
Then there was an almighty explosion of noise and spinning nylon line as Will’s fish alarm (consisting of an old pear can, with a loose shackle tied inside) spun out of control on the outside edge of the spool. Line was racing out at an alarming rate. Will grabbed the spool, I snatched the gloves and Martin ran forward to retrieve the net. Is this a well oiled, fish-catching machine or what!!
Looking back over the stern I saw this thing jump out of the air, all silver and blue. Any moment I’m thinking the line will break, the lure will be eaten off … maybe we need a bigger boat! We dispensed with the notion of winding the line onto the spool in a calm and measured manner and instead brought the line in hand over hand, piling it on the deck at out feet. The fish for a time swam towards the boat, which made our task easier, but then it would race off in all directions fighting the pressure of the line and the drag of the boat; cutting into our un-gloved hand. I initially had thoughts of documenting it all on the video camera, but both Will and I had initially taken charge of the retrieval process and it didn’t seem appropriate to abandon my post in the interests of recording the moment. It seemed if we didn’t play our cards right there wouldn’t be a “moment”.
Martin maneuvered into position to bring the net up behind the fish, but in the end it was clear, the fish was too big, the net was too small and so Will heaved the line, fish and all, up and over the handrail in one successful motion. Bang on the deck. It was about this time that the fish must have realized that this was not looking good, and began thrashing around in an effort to get free. There were yells all round, a scream could definitely be heard from behind me (something akin to, oh my, there’s a mouse in here) as everyone bounded back from the confused mixture of line, dangerous hooks and spiky fins and teeth all jumping around in close proximity.
One definite casualty was one of the two solar shower bags, tied against the coach house. In the confusion the hooks, fish and all, got mixed up with the bag leaving it empty with a big gash across the front.
So it was, that around mid day on Saturday 9 May, the first Wahoo was landed on the deck of Chimere, (don’t worry Andrew, all the blood has been cleaned away) all 1200mm of him. We don’t have any scales, but he was very heavy to lift.
Discussion then turned to how to cook him, how many meals he’ll make and which recipe will be employed from the “Chimere Cookbook”. Bob appeared around this time to assess the commotion and pass condolences on the recently deceased wonder from the deep, and then exclaimed … “RECIPE BOOK!! … This is the first yacht I’ve been on that has a cook book!!” Certainly this trip is breaking new ground for Bob, who I’m sure has a spare can opener hidden in his cabin somewhere, probably under his pillow.
The end of the fish catching, killing and processing operation coincided with the sounding of the egg timer, signalling that the cheese scones were ready to be taken out of the oven – specifically a 200 degree oven for 15-20 mins. Accompanying the scone rolls was a lettuce and tomato salad made with some of the last remnants of fresh food aboard and then we opened a can of Chunky Heinz Soup and a can of mixed beans, in order to restore Bob’s emotional state after he discovering there was a cook book onboard.
After that, everyone went back to reading, chatting and sleeping, or a bit of each. Will and Kathy pealed the last of the apples – I think they are to become apple muffins. I suggested they might go well with the Raspberry jelly, but the taste combination might have been a bit too out there. So maybe tomorrow night for the jelly.
The sun has just gone down on our first week at sea. We are 175 miles SW of the Isle of Pines, which lies just to the south of New Caledonia, and about 145 miles from the spot where we will veer north and lay a course for Tanna Island. All up, there’s about 400 miles to go, or 3 days. All being well we will clear customs in Tanna, Tuesday 12th May, or maybe the next day Wednesday, if the weather prevents us anchoring off the west coast of the island where the customs office is located.
Smooth sea, fair breeze and wahoo!!