Black Point to George Town ...halyard failure and another fish!

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Mon 17 Feb 2014 20:02
Black Point is laundry time as the 'Admiral' rates the facilities there as the best anywhere we've been to so far. So whilst 'Skip' played with his engines his dirty clothing was merrily spinning around in one of the super-duper top loaders ashore. Once the various chores had been completed it was off to the ocean side beaches for some more sea glass collecting. 'Skip' took his fishing spear and wet suit - not great for glass collecting but useful in case he spied anything edible below the waves. After two attempts the spear elastic broke - it was on it's last legs anyway, and that was that, but he did find an endless supply of sea glass a few feet from shore being tumbled in the ocean surf. Easier than plodding along the beach bending over but still good exercise. You had to be quick though, as you would see a good piece and whooosh - it was gone in the tumbling surf.
'Skip' surveys the anchorage from the laundry dock...whilst cruisers gather to talk Nurse sharks frequent the town dock - suck you to death they will!
We at last managed to catch up with old friends Ralph and Wendy from Altona who have moved from one hull into two, having purchased a Lagoon 42. Whilst it is just three feet longer than Ajaya it is huge by comparison of square area - rather like comparing a British aircraft carrier to that of the US Navy. We enjoyed a fun cocktail hour looking over their new acquisition. In fact there were a lot of people we knew there and it was also a chance to buy some of Mama's home made bread again. A treat we've missed for over three years.
Weather is always a dominant feature of any visit to Black Point as the bay is nicely protected from the easterly direction but horribly exposed to anything from the west.  A developing low pressure system just to the north of the Bahamas meant that we were to be on the receiving end of some strong west to northwest winds. Time to go. Incidentally, it was here that we had lost our previous dinghy late at night when it drifted off in the direction of Andros those three years or so ago. Wonder where it is now.
We left the anchorage early the following morning just as the sun was peeking above the horizon and motored out of Dotham Cut into Exuma Sound. Having finished off the remainder of our Mahi caught on the run down from the Abaco we were keen to lure another to the boat and refill our small freezer with fresh fish. Having exited the cut with no problem, the sea state was quite benign, we set off southwards with the main and genoa set. The 'Admiral' was below listening to the weather forecast on SSB whilst 'Skip' fiddled with sheet trim and then started to set a fishing line on the port side. We were motorsailing at around five knots or so but on returning to the cockpit he noticed that speed had dropped down a knot which was strange as conditions hadn't changed. Then we both simultaneously noticed that the headsail (genoa) was no longer filled with breeze pulling the boat along but draped all over the foredeck in a heap. We had lost the genoa halyard which had only just been repaired back in Oriental in the later summer. Now we had a problem. We need that sail to drive the boat and being at sea with a swell running it wouldn't be easy to rig anything to directly replace the badly chafed halyard. All we had was the spinnaker halyard which was offset at the masthead via a block. After an aborted attempt to set the genoa free flying on the spinnaker halyard (that is without using the groove in the headstay foil to run the sail up) we switched tactics to hauling the sail up through the foil which was labour intensive - why do we need superhuman strength to undertake what should be a simple task? Eventually the sail luff (the leading edge) was as tight as we dare tension with such a deviation on the masthead crane. We made the whole thing off and were finally sailing again. A trip to the masthead in the boson's chair will be a job to be relished - NOT. The 'Admiral' never did get the forecast.
After that drama we set four fishing lines trailing behind the boat with lures of various shapes and sizes.  It wasn't until early afternoon when 'Skip' was down below in the heads that first one lure was struck followed by the lure on the electric reel. 'Skip' heard none of the 'Admiral's' cries for help at the time as she was attempting to reel in the fish that was now swimming way off to starboard. It was a Mahi. If we didn't already know this then we would have guessed when the thing leapt out of the water as they do in an effort to spit the hook. That didn't work for the fish and by now the below crew had joined the foray and was winding in the line whilst the gaff was made ready.
It's a boy! - no, this wasn't a maternity ward but the back deck of Ajaya when we discovered that we were about to land the bull of the species. Our first one ever, easily denoted by the square shape of it's forehead, whereas the female has a sloping forehead. Why nature decided to make this handsome fish in this way we have no idea but it makes I.D. very easy.
Hauling in the catch..........                                            getting nearer.......
It was a biggish fish, not quite the four foot length of our previous catch but mighty close at forty-three inches and sixteen pounds. We even invested some of our rum to pour into it's gills which usually kills fish (lord, what does it do to us we ask) but this was one tough male and even some well aimed blows with the rubber mallet wouldn't pacify it. It's a messy business with these larger pelagic fish but it's worth it in the end.
Safely in the fish trug after another battle on deck..........Bull Mahi Mahi, easily identified by a very high square forehead - male or female - they are excellent eating
We heard of some five or so other Mahi caught that afternoon in the Sound by various boats. We were happy with our one which will keep us in meals for a while longer.
We arrived late afternoon into George Town where some two hundred yachts were gathering for the annual Cruiser's Regatta, with more arriving daily. It was going to be busy but our priority was to take shelter from those westerly winds that were forecast.