The Abbott and Costello of fishing
One of my yet-to-meet-in-person Facebook “friends” recently described the Mayaguana passage as “one of the gateways to hell.” He cautioned the readers of that post to take their seasickness medicine before traversing it. Fortunately, the wind didn’t make it as such for us although it was a bumpier ride than we had anticipated. Regardless, even though we had to motorsail into headwinds for the entire trip, we made it from Rum Cay to Mayaguana in a little better than 24 hours.
What does one do to pass the time on such a passage? Fish, of course! As the title suggests though, we really are the Abbott and Costello of fishing. Back in Georgetown, our friend Tim gave us 5 new lures. As I wrote before, we already lost two of those around our prop as we sailed to Conception Island. For the math-challenged reading, this still left us with three, more than enough to catch us some fish.
It wasn’t too long after getting the lines out that we had a hit on one them. I think the fish was a Wahoo but as we brought him nearby the boat, he did a nice little flip in the air and freed himself from the lure. Fish number two was a good-sized Dorado. I know this because we had him right alongside before he did some similar fish-trickery. This time though, he not only freed himself from the line but also took our nice lure with him! We ultimately determined that the swivel holding the lure to the line broke. I hate equipment failures!
Fish number 2 on the hook. We already had what I believe was a Wahoo get off the hook just shy of our transom. This guy did the same but to make matters worse, he took our good lure with him. How? The swivel that the lure was attached to broke! 🙁
No more fish were interested in hitting our lures that day and as the sun set, we brought them in. Pork chops for dinner, instead of fresh fish, it was then.
The night went well with Rebecca and I trading off 3 hour shifts on watch. We each kept ourselves occupied by watching movies on the laptop in the cockpit, stopping every 10 minutes to have a look around (we set a little cooking timer to remind us to do so). There wasn’t a ton of action through the night although we did pass several large cruise ships on reciprocal courses. Apparently they could see us because it appeared that they made early course corrections to avoid smashing us. We appreciated that.
A new day dawns.
We had a lot more wind than was forecast. Here we are motorsailing pretty close to the wind.
Lines were back in the water early the next morning and as the passage was drawing to an end, we finally got a hit. This time we were determined to land him. I took my time bringing this guy close, letting him wear himself out in the process. When we finally got him alongside, the comedy really broke out. While Rebecca held the reel, I hit him with the gaff. Although he was pretty chilled out before this occurred, he apparently did not like that very much. The next minute or so saw that fish jump off the gaff, get hooked again, jump off the gaff and get hooked again. On the third hit, I tossed him into the dinghy which was up on the davits. Not having enough foresight to realize the danger in trying to gaff a large, flopping fish in an expensive inflatable dinghy, I continued to try to hook him so that I could get him out of the dinghy and onto deck. Of course, just to make matters more fun, the lure, still in his mouth, had also now well attached itself to our dinghy’s painter (a painter is the line which you use to tie up the dinghy). The comedy ultimately drew to an end and the fish was dragged into the cockpit. A little bit of “Fire in da Hole” rum poured into his gills and he was once again chilled out. Thank God! That fish will be feeding us for the next week!
As soon as it was bright enough, we had the lines back in the water. It took us quite some time before we got this hit.
Score! A 44″ Mahi Mahi, aka Dorado, aka Dolphin, aka Dinner!
Although she hasn’t had a lot of practice here, Rebecca did a great job of cleaning the fish. Of course, our boat looked as if an axe murder had taken place after it was all said and done.
Landing that fish was not without injury. Mystery scrape on the arm and my hand is currently all swollen after smashing on something during the fish-landing fiasco.
By the time our week’s dinner had been cleaned, we were ready to enter the Abraham’s Bay anchorage. We have come to realize that there can often still be quite a bit of travel time remaining after reaching the outer waypoints, as there was in this case. The bay is almost 5 miles long and is quite shallow in places with multiple coral heads scattered throughout it. Although the charts show routes through the heads, they also have disclaimers placed on every page which state:
VPR (Visual Piloting Rules) apply in areas covered on this chart. Good weather, sunlight, bottom reading and piloting skills required.
What that is basically saying is that you’d better have someone forward, in this case Rebecca, watching to make sure you don’t bump into something that may not be on the chart! Got it.
Even after making it to the outer waypoint at Mayaguana, we still had close to an hour of motoring to do to get to our anchoring spot, much of it through coral heads. Here Rebecca is spotting from the mast, helping to get us safely through them. Fortunately we timed our arrival perfectly, getting there at 12:30 PM with excellent sun.
Our day ended with a bit of exploring, a bunch of cleaning (there was so much fish blood in our cockpit that it looked like an axe murder had taken place) and also a fuel run (thanks to Papa Charlie and Emerson for their help in this). Sleep came early for Rebecca and I in Mayaguana.
No matter how well we stow things, the boat always looks like a disaster area after a passage. This is the stuff that fell off the table, littering the salon floor.
After anchoring, and cleaning all the blood off the boat, we headed to shore to explore.
One thing we haven’t seen a lot of on most of the Bahamian islands is chickens. This rooster came out to see us to tell us that chickens do indeed live here on Mayaguana.
One of our least-pleasant jobs: jerry canning fuel to the boat. We have a LOT of jerry cans and after topping up our main tank, they were all empty. Can you say $$$$$?