ARC 2015 -Day 21 – Dec 11 - The One That Got Away

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Fri 11 Dec 2015 19:57

14:52.46N 57:59.28W

Day 21 – Dec 11

The One That Got Away

Today was the day that Mark was going to catch his fish. After a long night watch he took some rest but emerged determined at 8 am full of enthusiasm. Carefully considering the options he chose Manuel, his favourite lure and set his lines. There had been much discussion about the impact the shock absorbing springs had on the feel of the lines. Steve was convinced that by keeping his hand on the line at all times he was always aware whether or not there was a fish on the line. He lost a lure some time ago without even being aware that a fish had taken it. Steve's catch came after an extended period holding the end of the line so Mark decided to try the same approach and set himself up in the hide (hammock) with the line around his finger. Steve and Peter commented this was a risky approach if a large fish took the lure but on balance a limited risk with Mark's history.

The passing hours were marked by the emergence of cups of tea and the welcome serving of bacon rolls by Chris for breakfast. Apart from an accumulation of weed it looked as though today was going to be the same as previous ones for Mark. However, after nearly three thousand miles, the line went taut and Mark's spirits rose. This was the one he had been waiting for. Carefully and confidently he reeled in the line. Steve was put on standby for the landing, knife in hand.

As the fish neared, it was clear this was another Bonito, possibly of enormously large proportions, probably a mouthful each for the crew. Beggars can't be choosers thought Mark and it least it shows Manuel works. At last the line was reeled in and the fish raised to the level of the rear deck. Mark carefully offered the catch to Steve to be despatched. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to skip the rest of this paragraph. The last fish was drugged with alcohol to the gills then stunned with a length of rubber pipe and finally despatched with a carving knife. This time the knife was ready straight away so Steve beat the fish about the head severely with the aim of stunning it for the coup de gras. Unfortunately the fish had other ideas and leapt off the hook back into the sea. Sorry mate said Steve.

Observant readers of this blog will remember that Mark frequently wears a full face hat to protect his delicate skin from the effects of the tropical sun. On this occasion it obscured the look Mark returned Steve for the apology. Fortunately the sense of humour quickly returned and the irony of three thousand miles for the catch of the day to leap off the hook after being beaten about the head was fully appreciated. Mark, ever the engineer, noted that we seem to have got the hang of fishing and the catching is improving but the landing needs work.

Peter then suggested that this particular fish may become the source of a problem back at the school. He was likely to report that if you take this nice lure all that happens is that they reel you in, beat you about the head and throw you back without so much as a by your leave. What the fish had done to deserve this treatment was unclear. Normally he would expect to be served up pan fried with a slice of lemon on the side.

Later in the day Nina was visited by three pairs of dolphins, our first on this side of the Atlantic. Mike leapt up to the prow with his camera, after strapping on his safety line first. They circled round Nina several times always surfacing just as Mike was looking the other way so sadly no pictures. The remark came from the back of the boat that perhaps these dolphins had been dispatched to investigate a case of fish battering.

Frank was engaged as staff photographer today by Mike and Chris. Firstly Mike needed a shot of himself wearing a t shirt approved by his kids with the statement 'Live Fast, Die Old'. Posing in the cockpit the shot was approved as one for the record. However it didn’t end there as Mike went and positioned himself behind the wheel with a purposeful look in his eye and a guiding hand on the wheel. Another great shot came the cry. Ah, I need one of those said Chris so Frank carefully constructed the same shot and Chris took up a crouch by the wheel with a thousand mile stare. Success. The observant ones amongst you will have noticed of course that Nina has steered herself for almost all the three thousand miles apart from a short spell when the rudder sensor malfunctioned. However we hope that the poetic licence is accepted and the results speak for the spirit of the enterprise.