02 Dec - Day 16 Position at 16.00 hrs 20:15.5N 045:57.3W

Imagine Of Falmouth Online Log
Jon Constantine
Sun 2 Dec 2007 20:41
Day 16 Distance to Antigua  920  nm (nautical miles).

Distance covered since yesterday at 16.00 - 134 nm. Average speed over 24 hrs = 5.58 kts

Last night was horrible.  Just after it got dark the wind started to swing round and head us.  Before long we were beating to windward and squalls came through regularly with heavy showers of rain in the pitch blackness as there was no moon. Each time a squall came through the wind would rise and we would have to reef in the headsail, sometimes to a small triangle.  The only good news was that we were doing 7 kts occasionally 8.  Once the squall has gone through, the wind would drop and we would roll out more headsail until we could feel the wind rising as the next one came through.  I think I got about 2 hours kip last night and Sam not much more.

This morning was more of the same but with more persistent rain, sometimes in huge deluges which drove us below for shelter.

At about 8.15 this morning Sam went to catch up on her sleep so I took my opportunity while I could and put out the line on MY rod.

Wham!  After half an hour or so the ratchet went of and the line was running out fast. I banged on the cockpit to wake Sam and grabbed the rod before she appeared - this was MY fish and it felt like a big one.  Sam took the wheel and came up to the wind to slow us down while I tried to slow the line running out by applying the reel brake.  It just about held but most of the line had run out.  This was going to be a long fight. As Sam kept the boat as stationary as possible, I started reeling him in.  The rod was bent right over and the tension was more than I thought the line would hold so I had to be careful not to wind too quickly.  This went on for a least half an hour, slowly bringing the line in bit by bit.  Finally, we could see him, a big, very big dorada.  He was going to be far to large to get in our net.  We meant to buy a gaff in Lanzarote but forgot now it looked like a big mistake.  As he got near the stern, he would try to dive down under the stern or swam rapidly from side to side of the boat.  He wasn't going to come quietly.  As I played him nearer and nearer, Sam tried to get him in the net which was a joke really because he was more than twice the size of the net.  Finally between us we got him half in and started to lift him.  The handle on the net then broke and he fell back in the water.  Sam then rushed below to get the boat hook. (Sounds like Jaws, the movie, doesn't it?)

Sam managed to get the boat hook into his gills and with a final heave we hauled him onto the sugar scoop where he lay panting and gasping for air. If looks could kill, I'd be dead (and that was the fish, not Sam).

I went below and grabbed a bottle of rum (we can get more soon) and poured a liberal helping into his gills and down his mouth.  It seemed to work because within 5 minutes he lay there without moving and we felt confident enough to move him into the cockpit where he landed with a thud.  Job done. We reset the sails, got back on course and thought seriously about drinking the rest of the rum.  I hope you agree from looking at the picture that I don't have to exaggerate or tell any long stories in the bar?

Later on I filleted him and we now have 20, yes 20 large dorada fillets in the fridge.  I just wish there was someone we could give some of it to.  Our 'fridge is now working well (thanks Richard) and Sam has packed it in bags and hung it close to the cold plate.  Looks like it's fish for the next 10 days!!

It has rained on and off all day today and to cap it all the wind has died leaving just the rolling swell to keep us uncomfortable. The sails are furled to save them slatting and we are motoring at 4.5 kts to preserve diesel.  With 920 miles still to go, I don't think we have enough but I'm sure the wind will fill in.  The forecast says light to variable for the next few days.  At least we won't starve!

My Dorada

My fish, my fish, nah nah, nana nah.

(Note Phil hiding behind the outboard)