27.11.2010 More Fishing ~159nm
Another windless night. Here I am
sitting in the cockpit and contemplating the stories of seamen who got stuck in
this region before. One story that comes to my mind is the trip of Magellan. As
we know, although Columbus set out to find a shorter route to the Spice Islands
(roughly modern Indonesia) instead he bumped into America and this accidental
discovery made him famous for ever. Years passed by and the alternative route to
Islands remained elusive. But seamen, navigators, adventurers and
fortune seekers remained mesmerized by the possibility of a fast route to bring
spices, more valuable than gold, to Europe.
Thus, again and again they set out to find the Western route to the Spice Islands. Magellan left Lisboa (Portugal) with 5 ships and after a couple of
weeks at sea they stocked up on water and provisions at Cape Verde and
sailed straight West. Another couple of weeks and they found themselves in the
Doldrums. The crew of course was not informed that instead of taking the well
travelled route around Africa they were going
to sail West. Idle crew was not good news on those small ships and indeed soon
rumours started that they were heading the wrong direction and will fall off the
Earth. These were just rumours and the crew of course could not have known it
for sure but the navigator, who assisted Magellan, was fully aware of his plans.
Having heard the rumours Magellan without hesitation ordered the tongue of the
navigator to be cut out! This made me think. I am the navigator on Fenix.
Knowing the fate of my predecessor the saying that “hold your tongue” absolutely
makes sense to me! Subsequently by the way Magellan and his ships sailed around
South America and found the strait (today
called Magellan strait) that took them to the Pacific. Magellan was killed on
one of the islands but two of his boats laden with spices almost made it back to
Lisboa sinking while in sight of the city.
We had to motor a few hours
during the night but the morning welcomed us with a fresh breeze and we had a
wonderful day of sailing. After some discussions about our route and with some
help from the wind we at last turned towards S/W. Encouraged by yesterday’s
catch (the one that got away) we started to fish and in a couple of hours we
were all called to task with the beautiful noise of a running reel. Just as our
friend Jose, who kindly donated our lures, promised.
The men went into battle armed
with gloves, a knife and a gaff while I grabbed the camera, slowed down the boat
by furling the main and turning more downwind. Mark heroically grabbed the line
and threw the fish onto the deck. Remember how the late Steve Erwin jumped onto
the back of crocodiles? This is exactly what happened to this Mahi-Mahi. In a
somewhat unorthodox way two guys somehow held the fish down while Mark cut its
throat or rather the spine. Soon, we had our beautiful catch cleaned and Kynan
offered to make a sashimi. Always an optimist, I purchased pickled ginger,
Wasabi powder and soy sauce in the Japanese shop in Subiaco before our
departure. I was secretly hoping for some lucky catch so as the time came I
enthusiastically I pulled out my purchases that Kynan converted into a
beautifully presented sashimi which tasted fantastic!
While savouring our good fortune
a fairly large bird landed on the radar and stayed with us grooming itself for
hours. It was fascinating to see how comfortable it was with us. We celebrated
with grilled fish and Canary potatoes and a bottle of crispy Vino Sol. We live
well on Fenix. I remember reading how surprised Ellen McAurthur, as a young
sailor, was when she sailed across the Atlantic
on an Italian racing yacht. She could not believe to her eyes when the racing
crew at night got the pot out and cooked a pasta and sauce even in the most
horrid conditions. No freeze dried food for the sensitive stomachs of Mamma’s
Italian boys! This was a revelation to me.
Initially we planned to rotate the cooking and cleaning on Fenix but
after the culinary efforts of Steve and Mark on the way to Las Palmas we unanimously
voted them out of the kitchen to the wash basin. I found my soul mate in Kynan
with whom we planned the menu and did the shopping. Mind you we just realised
that we have not cooked so far a single dish from our planned menu yet.
What a wonderful day!! I did not
even mind when the wind died as the clock stroke 12.00. Some more motoring. If
sailor readers worry about all these “motorings” I can tell you that we log the
time and there is a penalty formula that is used to calculate the racing time.
I started next morning with
downloading the weather reports and the news was really gloomy. No trade winds
for another week or two. Our only chance to do some sailing is to go close to
the two fronts that are generating gale force winds in the middle of the
Atlantic and use these N/NW winds to beat towards St Lucia. So, much about those
famous, reliable trade winds. Many of the ARC yachts instead decided to go to
Verdes Islands to refuel and wait there for
better wind and start motoring on Monday/Tuesday. The forecast made no promise
of trade winds for the next 5 days. We were all horrified by this scenario. I
downloaded all weather reports known to mankind and after some hesitation we
unanimously decided to sail towards the edge of the front. We put in a waypoint
Lucia (West) and turned west. Only, 2130nm to
Lucia here we come!
Ps: Just learnt the wonderful news that our son Gavin and
the gorgeous Susie Allia got engaged!