We are nearly always dragging a lure behind Resolute. And why not, plucking your dinner straight from the sea just before dropping the hook in some secluded anchorage, who hasn’t dreamt of that at some time or other? We are not huge fisherman, our fishing tackle mostly consists of a few hundred feet of 100 lb test line, some different colored squids and the Cuban yoyo hand line. Despite this, we have been very successful in catching fish on practically all our passages. I think the secret is our pink squid!
We have a couple of catches that stand out from the other more normal tuna, black skipjack, dorado, etc. Our first was while leaving La Paz, we were around 3 miles outside of the entrance channel on a gently sloping sand shelf in around 40 feet of water when Meagan yelled “Fish On!!!” to me down below looking at our charts for the day. We did our usual, reduce sail to spill speed, drag the fish for a little while to tire it out and then begin hauling in on the hand line little by little. After what seemed like quite awhile, as this fish was fighting harder and a little different from others we caught previously, we saw our first glimpse of the tell tale shark fin. Hmm, “this might get interesting” we said to each other at the same time. Once getting the little shark alongside the boat we got a great view of this guy’s infamous shark teeth as he angrily snapped and thrashed trying to bite that pesky lure just inches in front of his cat like yellow eye.
After a little powwow and looking at how the lure was stuck in his jaw we decided the best course of action would be to slide a sharp knife right down the hook and slice open the flesh on his lips as he had not actually hooked any “bone”. This would hopefully leave us with our lure and him without a large hook or line trailing from his jaw for several days. If not making it harder for him to catch more food it would at least make him less attractive to the females I imagine, and I would hate to be the cause of that. The plan worked flawlessly and our little companion wasted no time sending a jet of water right into our faces as he muscled his way down to deeper and safer water.
The second time we were outmatched was when crossing from Guaymas on the mainland side of Mexico to Bahia de los Angeles on the Northern Baja Peninsula. We had around 60 feet of line out and were passing through the salsipuedes channel , a narrow channel renowned for its fast currents and funneling winds. Once again the call was made for “all hands to battle stations, fish on!”. I began pulling in and wham, “whoa, now this is a big fish or we just hooked the bottom” I said to Meagan, blue faced and straining to not loose my tenuous, sweaty grip on our severally outgunned hand line. I think at one point Resolute may have gone backwards, we will have to consult the GPS track for confirmation. A little more fruitless panting and heaving on the line and we had gotten the behemoth to with, oh wait, we had given him another 40 feet putting our total line out to around 100 feet. It was at this point we we graced by one of the most amazing sights you can see, a beautiful sail rising out of the water and slicing the waves in front. We had caught a Marlin!! With a little more renewed vigor we managed to pull this 5-6 foot thrashing fish to within 50 feet of the transom when I nearly fell backwards and over the lifelines. “What was that?” I coughed as I began cautiously pulling in on the line again. We though the fish must have spontaneously died as there was clearly something on the line still but there was no fight left in him. The answer was soon revealed as we pulled the near zombie like remains of a Jack onto the side decks. The only explanation being that we had caught our Jack friend moments before he had been swallowed down and partially digested by our much larger Marlin friend. Fortunately for us, we were saved the head scratching of trying to figure out just how to get a 100 lb angry Marlin onto our boat without one of us being lanced through the stomach.
Any help identifying the shark species would be greatly appreciated by the way, my best guess was a small lemon, by I am the last person I would ask about such matters.
Excitement swirled with apprehension in the rigging above our heads, our emotions palpable, like dense fog on a windless San Francisco morning. As we motored out beyond the sanctuary of Ensenada’s protective sea wall, the tranquil waters of the harbor were abruptly replaced by jarring short period swell and erratic, splashy wind chop. By the time we had coerced the sails into place, the slightest hint of a grumbling began down in the deepest reaches of my belly bringing with it the nagging sensation that started approximately 1 hour earlier, as the last bite of fried fish taco passed my lips. The rough seas and greasy street food paired well with the intense pain that had been radiating outward from my eye sockets for the past two days, the result of a tenacious sinus blockage. Exhausted and overburdened with emotion and sickness I wearily succumbed to my first bout of sea sickness approximately 10 minutes into the 4 day, 360 mile sail from Ensenada to Bahia de Tortuga. While Erik propelled us into the restless sea, I curled into a tight ball in the back of the cockpit, my arms like jib sheets wrapped tightly around our port side winch, clinging and hugging it to me while my head rested lazily on top. I huddled there for hours, unfolding myself intermittently to crawl clumsily over the cockpit comings and while desperately clasping Resolute’s beefy toe rail return the contents of the taco to the sea. At some point during my delirium, Erik disappeared down the companionway, returning several minutes later with a plastic Ikea cup brimming with a fizzy white substance. He shoved the cup in front of my nose and suggested rather authoritatively that I consume its mystery contents. I hesitated for a moment, realizing that my pitiful groaning and melodramatic mutterings of “kill me now” may have been enough to lead any man to murderous tendencies, especially one trapped on a 36 foot piece of real estate with access to a profusion of toxic boat chemicals. I sniffed at the milky liquid, trying to weed out the presence of any exotic contaminants. Finding the smell mildly pleasing and for once not in any position to argue with him, I weakly dislodged the cup from his grasp and poured the chalky liquid down my throat. Within minutes, I lay sprawled and snoring in the crisp folds of our new lee cloth. Drugged and happy with, Erik informed me later, two nighttime Alka-Seltzer tablets coursing through my system.
A day and a half later (I know, I know, I am very sensitive to antihistamines) I peeled myself away from the settee and stumbled out into the moonless night, just in time to watch Resolute surf down a massive wave at a hull speed crushing 10.2 knots. Green water spat and foamed from threatening heights as the waves fitfully alternated between hurling us forward on their crests and stalling us in their troughs. I turned toward Erik, huddling from the Beaufort force 7 winds under Resolute’s sturdy hard dodger, his eyes bloodshot and swollen, no doubt exhausted from his 36 hour watch. Less frightened than I should have been since my head was still a cumulonimbus of drug induced euphoria, I nonchalantly inquired, “do you think we might want to reduce some sail?” He abruptly snapped out of his own delirium and we hove to for the rest of the night, permitting Erik to catch up on some much needed shut eye, and myself ample time to awaken from it.
The monstrous waves and howling winds accompanied us for our remaining two days at sea, and when we finally limped into Bahia de Tortuga we were completely and utterly exhausted. However, five minutes into our visit to the sunny, placid bay we had half of a gorgeous (25 lb) Yellowtail filleted and delivered to our boat for the minimal cost of 50 pesos (an equivalent to 3.5 US dollars) and two cold beers. We smiled and lit the barbecue, already forgetting about the tribulations of the last four days and excitedly planning our next jump down the coast.