Today we motorsailed (sort of) from Crooked Island to Atwood Harbour in the Acklins. We started very early, so we could see the coral at the entrance to the anchorage upon arrival. Dave had a rough stomach night and didn’t sleep well, so after anchoring and eating a quick lunch, Dave went downstairs to take a nap.
Not five minutes later, Francois from Why Knot IV came over and asked Dave if he wanted to go lobstering with him. Dead tired and not feeling great, Dave still couldn’t resist. He gathered his spear, mask, snorkel, and fins and climbed into Francois’ dinghy.
They went outside the protection of the bay on the other side of the reefs, so I couldn’t see them. The water was still really rough with big waves, so I doubted they would be able to catch much, if anything. However, when they finally came back (a couple hours seems like forever when you’re worried), they had one large lobster. Dave said he found it in the first five minutes, so he expected to get a lot. Since this was the first, he deferred to the more experienced Francois to spear it. Good thing, because they never saw another lobster and would have been skunked if Dave had missed it. We invited Francois and Vanessa over for dinner and I sautéed up the lobster in some butter and garlic and tossed it in some pasta with a light Italian sauce on it. I could get used to eating like this. I was never a fan of lobster, but I think restaurants must typically overcook it. This was nice and tender.
After being on the boat for a couple, three days, Dave was itching to go ashore and stretch his legs on solid ground. Now we have beached the dinghy several times by this point without any problems, but the waves here were crashing onto the beach. Dave punched it until we were nearly grounded, then we hopped out to pull the dinghy up the rest of the way. Our old dinghy had an aluminum bottom and a small outboard, making it a lightweight package. We struggled to pull this one up on the sand, but it just seemed to dig in and we pulled half the beach with it. Because of this, we didn’t get it up fast enough and a big wave came along and swamped it! Oh well, we just pulled the plug and drained it. Walking at the edge of the water, I found a baby conch shell. I picked it up, rinsed it out, and looked inside. It still had a baby conch in it. It had just somehow gotten beached, so I tossed it back in the water as far as I could. I should have taken a picture first. Darn!
Bright and early the next morning, we weighed anchor and set out for Mayaguana, the last and southernmost island in the Bahama chain. The wind was strong all night and the waves were going to be huge, but we decided to brave it because they were only going to get worse for the next week or so. It was a rough ride, but bearable. It’s a go! Two hours in, Vanessa called us on the VHF to see how we were doing. We told her it was rough but not too bad and were okay to continue. She said it was not very confortable for them but they would also continue. We later learned that she was very upset and not enjoying the trip at all. But Francois really wanted to keep going, so she dealt with it. It appears the path we had to take in order to motorsail going south of the Plana Cays was a smoother ride than theirs north of the Plana Cays. Maybe there is a benefit to having to go further off wind after all. Also, we are no longer skunked! We broke the dry spell and caught a dorado (mahi mahi). Dave asked me to reel it in, since I have more fishing experience from my Alaska days. It jumped out of the water twice and looked magnificent! But didn’t fight much and I pulled it along side the boat where Dave gaffed it and brought it in. Awesome! It measured 48 inches! Excited about having caught our first fish, Dave immediately put the line back out, but nothing else happened in that area. We wrapped the fish in trash bags and put it in the freezer – I knew we installed a big freezer for a reason – and called Why Knot IV on the VHF. They said in the freezer it would keep until we arrived at our destination where Francois would teach Dave how to filet it.
Just a few miles from the entrance to Abrahams Bay, we hooked another fish! I set the hook and it jumped out of the water – another mahi mahi! This one fought like a demon. It swam the opposite way of the boat and I just had to let it take the line. Dave slowed and turned the boat to make it easier for me to bring it in, but this one had no intention of coming aboard. I reeled some in and it took it right back out over and over. Finally, it appeared to tire some and I started gaining more than I was losing. At long last, it was beside the boat and Dave gaffed it, but only through the back fin, which tore through. He tried again and got a better hold, but even after coming on the boat it fought its way off the gaff. I grabbed the pole again and pulled the line tight to keep from losing it while Dave gaffed it again. Once Dave got it into the dinghy (which is on the back platform of the boat when we are underway), we covered its eyes with a wet towel to calm it, then poured vodka into its gills to kill it humanely – just as we did the other one. That night, as promised, Francois came aboard and showed Dave how to filet one and Dave fileted the other. We will be eating well for a couple weeks from these two fish!