Thursday, February 13, 2014
This is a fish story, but not a common one. I'm not going to exaggerate the size of the fish, but it was a nice one - a wahoo.
We were traveling the south side of Margarita, an island off the coast of Venezuela, trolling a line. Seems that sailing is about the right speed for trolling most of the time. The line hooked into a wahoo, a heavy fish. Since I was at the helm, I slowed the speed of the boat while my partner tried to reel him in. By the time all the sails were down and the motor started, the fish was still fighting and my partner yelled to back down on the fish. Oh, great, I'm thinking fishing line in the prop. I backed down so that the fish was closer, but he was way too big to try to gaff and bring aboard. We had lots of freeboard - meaning we were not very close to the water level.
All cruisers have a dinghy, and we were no exception, so my partner got in the dinghy and I handed over the rod that I'd been trusted to hold on to. I also handed over the gaff, hoping for no damage. Our dinghy was inflatable and I was hoping that it would survive this procedure without any punctures or other damage. After what seemed like a lengthy time, with much mumbling and grunting, the fish was gaffed and dragged into the dinghy. Luckily, the dinghy was still inflated, much to my relief.
We were close to our anchorage, so we just motored in while we towed the dinghy with the wahoo's tail sticking up in the air. After we anchored, the next problem was to get the fish on deck so it could be cleaned. As we anchored, the cat knew we were done traveling and it was safe to come out on deck. She had to do her usual tour of the deck, up one side and down the other. She stopped at the back and stared at the dinghy with the fish staring back at her. We had caught other fish and she absolutely loved it, so she looked up at us and demanded to know why we were not yet slicing up some fish morsels for her.
My partner finally heaved the fish onto the back deck, with more mumbling and grunting. The cat decided we were moving too slowly and decided to take matters into her own paws. She went over to the fish and tried to take a bite. Unfortunately for her, and strange as it seems to me - her mouth just wasn't big enough to bite off a piece of flesh, she couldn't even break the skin. She was so insistent that I had to lock her in the head when the filet knife came out.
As my partner cut the fish up into steaks and small chunks for the cat, we knew we didn't have refrigeration capability to keep it all, so I got on the radio and put out calls to other cruisers we knew in the anchorage. I told them what we had and if anyone wanted some fresh fish, to bring baggies over. By the time they started arriving, I had let the poor starving kitty out of the head so she could overload on fish pieces. As she was inhaling them, she noticed we were handing over packages of her fish to people in dinghies. She came over to me yelling about it and slapping my hand as I handed over a full baggie to a cruiser. Guess who was caged back in the head?
With this much fish, we all decided to have a cookout on the beach with other cruisers we knew. Everyone brought their drinks and a dish to share and we had a great evening. And people wondered what we did all day!