Astra Blog: Galapagos to Marquesas (Part 6) 25.05.08 - 26.05.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Tue 27 May 2008 19:26

Astra Blog: Galapagos to Marquesas (Part 6) 25.05.08 – 26.05.08



Sunday 25.05.08


After consulting our weather router, shore team and tactician, we decided to make our final Gybe on to port to head directly at the Marquesas at 0642. It looked like the anticipated ‘storm’ might be on its way as wind steadily built throughout the day. 


We are still working to GMT-6, so as a result sunrise has slipped back about 10 minutes every day as we have hurtled westwards. As a result it was still dark, with the moon high in the sky at 0800 ship’s time. Jeremy was, therefore, a little surprised to come on deck to find Ash photographing insouciantly from the pushpit. Confused as to why Ash would be photographing the moonlit mast, he turned to survey it only to see that George was up the spreaders again!


Lost lures and lacerated leader lines demanded a tackle repair session. We have not tinkered with our tackle since John showed us what we should be doing back in the swimming pool. Ash and Jeremy set about putting John’s master class into action. Lures were selected, deselected, reselected, re-leadered, and re-hooked. Colours were chosen carefully to whet the appetites of the pelagic residents of the Pacific. Many brand new lures were dismantled and re-assembled in a more satisfactory fashion.   Hooks were sharpened to an extent that they could cut your finger off if you so much as looked at them.


It did not take long to get a bite. Further excitement, it was another skipjack tuna. When we got him alongside we were slightly disappointed to find that he was only about 8 inches long. We decided to release this would be “meal for one” – Sally expertly unhooking him with a shake.


By nightfall we were getting up to 20 knots of wind from the ESE and were doing a comfortable 9 knots with the spinnaker functioning beautifully.


Monday 26.05.08


Wind increased at sunrise and at 1120 after the apparent wind had been regularly topping 20 knots we decided to give the big spinnaker a rest; it had been up non-stop for 14 days to the hour (give or take being temporarily dropped for the occasional fish). Under white sails we were still getting 9knots SOG.  The key benefit of not flying the kite was that it enabled us to go fishing again without having to worry about damaging the spinnaker in a hurried drop.  This turned out to be a prudent move.


The retuning of our fishing equipment was not in vain; at 1800 “Jet Head 2” secured a fish on debut. When the fish chose to fight it was stripping the reel fast so we had to furl the genoa and turn into the wind. The fish was thrashing on its way in and, leaping from the water, identified itself as neither mahi mahi nor tuna. What on earth had we hooked? It looked to be between 5 and 6 feet long with a slender body that appeared, through the water, to be emerald in colour. It also had a large ‘sail’ dorsal fin, a very deep turquoise. It was a beautiful specimen, rare, and not one for the table. We were wondering how to release it when the fish give an incredibly powerful swish of its tail, leaping into the air and unhooking in the process. Reference to Astra’s library has shown it to be a shortbill spearfish. It was a delight to be able to see it close up without having to cause it harm. In addition to this, we are also reassured to know that “Jet head 2” looks appetizing.


Moments later we were surrounded by (yet more) dolphins – this time a large spotted variety. Were they being friendly or just chasing the fish that were chasing our lures? They were slightly shyer than most of the pods that we have seen and only stuck around for about 10 minutes before disappearing.


Thank you to those of you who have speculated as to our arrival time in the Marquesas – if current conditions remain the competition will be resolved before too long.