Andrea catches a big fish

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Mon 21 Mar 2011 00:41
Five Islands Bay, Antigua, Sunday night

Although we're back in the same place - or within about 50 meters anyway - we've been out and about all day. As Cind said, "we went out, got something for dinner, dropped the rubbish off, had an ice-cream and then went home".

We woke up to a lovely warm morning with a bit of breeze. Everybody had slept well in this super-calm anchorage and I was so full of beans that I redid the insulation tape over the LEDs in the fans in our cabin. Hopefully, that will mean we don't need to dangle our pants on there each night to stop the lights keeping Andrea awake. We'll see tonight. Alden was clearly undernourished yesterday as he cooked up a massive breakfast of noodles, mushrooms, eggs and bacon for himself - perhaps the vegeterian diet isn't quite enough for him. He does expend about twice as much energy in a day as the rest of us.

Cind and I got the tender up and then we prepared Saxon Blue for sea as we could see that it was much rougher outside the bay. We got the anchor up and found that it was covered in gloopy mud. We got underway and had the genoa set almost straight away so sailed out of the bay, watching a catamaran come in through a tiny gap between a reef and the headland. He either had local knowledge or no knowledge. We came around harder onto the wind so put out the main, furled the genoa and replaced it with the jib. We soon passed close to a tiny sandy island just offshore. It looked like a picture postcard of where a recalcitrant crewmember might be castaway.

As soon as we were past that, we hardened right up onto the wind, trimmed the sails and shot off northwards at about 7 knots. There was a bit of swell running but nowhere as near as much as we have seen so we were having a great sail. Alden mentioned fishing and that was it. Andrea soon had her rod out and they got it all set up together. They first tried one of the lures that Andrea has had for ages but it skipped over the surface of the sea at the speed we were going. They then tried one of the lures that I got for Andrea for Christmas when we were in Bermuda. It looks like a tiny green space-alien and it's supposed to leave an "irresistible" trail of bubbles behind. I think Alden was a bit sceptical of it but... Weeeeee went the reel after only about ten minutes.

Then it was all action. Andrea grabbed the rod, Alden giving her encouragement and instructions and I tried to slow the boat down a bit by heading into the wind some more. Andrea soon had the hang of pulling the rod upwards and winding in as she moved it back down but I could tell that she was finding it hard work. She got the fish within a few feet of our stern and then handed the rod to Alden so she could scramble down the transom with the (new) landing net. I couldn't believe that she was down there but, clearly, the two hunters would stop at nothing to land their prey.

The fish just about fitted into the net and then it was onboard. It was a proper ocean fish, shimmering silver underneath with a blue stripy top. It looked like a giant Mackerel and that may well be what it is. Alden showed Andrea how to bleed and gut it and then they put it into the fridge in a couple of plastic bags. We all discussed the amazing success before tacking round and heading towards St Johns harbour for some lunch.

It was a bit easier sailing just off the wind as we headed in. I didn't want to try to negotiate the town docks with an empty stomach so we pulled off into a bay to the north side of the entrance channel for some lunch. On the chart, it looked like a good anchorage but it was horrible. Very shallow so we couldn't get anywhere near the shore and with a nasty swell running in around the headland. We had a good lunch but we were all anxious to get underway again as soon as possible. We could already see a massive cruise ship docked in the centre of town so we didn't have far to go.

I had read the Pilot book, looked at the charts and consulted the astrologers but I still couldn't find any definite answer about where we could go. Although St Johns is the capital city of Antigua, it's not much visited by yachts so there aren't many facilities. There was an anchorage marked on the chart but, when we went in for a look, I had to beat a hasty retreat when the Forward Looking Sonar showed a wall of mud just in front of us. The only other option was the town dock between the two cruise ship piers. We could see some clear space there so we headed in along the starboard side of the mobile city towards the rickety wooden dock ahead.

We had plenty of fenders out and all the lines set up but there was a problem. No cleats. Only a row of flags flying on bamboo poles that wouldn't hold a heavy runner bean. Resisting the temptation to put a figure of eight around a passing stray dog, Alden got flat onto the dock and tied the lines around the supporting legs so we were safe. There was another tiny yacht there but the guys onboard didn't know whether we were allowed to be there or not. Almost immediately, a local guy appeared and told us that it was OK to stay but that it was very rolly - which was fast becoming apparent. He slightly overstayed his welcome which made us wonder how many more people we would be entertaining for the evening if we remained alongside. Some cruise-ship passengers told us that they were leaving at 5pm so that would mean we were the only show in town.

The girls had now returned from their reconnoitre and had found an ice-cream shop so I went over there with them and we all over-indulged in Australian dairy products. We had a quick planning session and decided to head back towards a bay on the other side of the entrance to the one where we'd had lunch so we bought some ice-cream for Alden and went back to Saxon Blue. We managed to get off the dock without taking any of it with us so we accounted that a success and then headed back out towards the sea. As we got to the end of the channel, we could see some yachts rolling around in our potential anchorage. A few of them looked to have found good shelter but they were either small or Ovnis, hence no keel. We'd be out with the ones drawing circles in the air.

That didn't look too attractive so we just carried on a couple of miles back to the south again and into our own quiet bay. There were a couple of other boats visible but it's a huge expanse of water so they're a long way away from us. We dropped the hook and, just like last night, it failed to set the first time so we had another go and it held fine.

So that's it. Here we are again. Alden has shown Andrea how to fillet her lovely fish. We're still not sure what it is. The flesh is dark like a Mackerel although one of the guys in St Johns said it was a Tuna. We're just about to get stuck into demolishing it so we'll see.

(Brief pause for dinner)

The fish is all eaten now and it was spectacular. I think it was a Mackerel but not as oily as the ones in the UK. Alden coated it with sesame seeds before frying it and that was a great choice. In the space of three days, we've had lobster and now monster-mackerel, both plucked from the sea and turned into delicious dinner. Who knows what culinary magic is still to come?


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