Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 19

We got lucky, at 0300 this morning the wind filled in, 14 knots out of the ENE, steady and building. By 0900 puffy cumulus gathered around the horizon in a layered belt floating by with fluffy tops and rounded undersides. The sea turned from violet to indigo and back to that deep sea blue I love. The wind kicked up to 18 knots and the seas were slowly building.

What a contrast from last night. A big moon crossed the sky transforming the sea into liquid silver. It was so bright, I could almost read by moonlight. The horizon was clear with a slow rolling swell and the thin puffy cumulus clouds glowed throughout the night. The sails were set with a light 8-9 knots in them and small seas so all was quiet below. Then at 0200 the vhf crackled to life. "DreamKeeper, Dreamkeeper this is yacht 66," a British voice hailed on channel 16. I had been watching a bright steaming light approaching for the last couple of hours and was wondering how close they would come. The voice on the end of the radio informed me their CPA (basically interception) was quite close but they were keeping a sharp watch and monitoring me closely. I was grateful for their call, an hour later they ghosted past, within 500 feet of us, quite close for a huge ocean. It appeared they were a huge luxury sailboat, without sails (they're too big to slam back and forth in the se seas). Time is different out here, for the next 40 minutes I watched stern light slowly disappear over the horizon.

By 1200 today the winds kicked up a decent wind chop of 4-6 feet from the east and the ocean swell is coming out of the northwest at a lazy 10-13 feet. We are slamming around a bit as we skate down the face of the wind swell and get tossed about by the sea swell, still banging every now and then but nowhere near what it was just a day ago. Now the boat creaks and groans once in a while as she sways back and forth in an awkward slow dance with the gusting wind and building seas. No fishing today but we did get lucky yesterday.

The hand-line, looked strange, taught against the bungee but almost imperceptibly so. "Gar, did you put these lines way out there," I asked, my head poking down the companionway hatch. "No, why?" he asked, lifting his head from the pillow he just lowered it onto. "Feels funny, maybe we've got a fish on," I replied as I began taking the line in hand over hand to check. "Fish!" I yelled. Usually we need two of us, one to pull in the line the other to gaff it. Flashing brilliant peacock blue, emerald green, lemon yellow and lime green turquoise and midnight blue again and again our prize mahi for the day came to the surface in all of her beautiful glory. It is so hard to kill these fish both for their beauty and their symbolism. Their colors flash to me in that moment as a final death flag, fighting, releasing everything they've got in the stress of the moment, which we aimed to end swiftly. Mahi Mahi supposedly mate for life. As Gar finished pulling in the fish, he checked the water for a mate and found none. Dinner for sure. Gaffed and on deck, she flashed for a final time and we gave thanks as we watched her brilliant colors quickly turn gray and muted within moments of her death, even the turquoise spots splashed along her flank lost their luster.

It is with the mahi that we are even more aware of the choice we are making in choosing to eat meat. There is no way around seeing something so graceful and stunning and watching it change so quickly to the color of death. And yet it is a choice, eating meat and we have chosen it for now in our lives. There is no fresher or purer form, than fresh live wild food. We are meat fisherpeople and take only what we will eat. Always respectful and reverent but this time this fish was even more of a gift. Gar just finished reading 'Four Fish', by Paul Greenberg, where, among many things, he learned mahi mahi are so wild they cannot be bred for aquaculture and will ram themselves to death before adapting to life inside of nets or cages. So we are lucky enough to once again be eating some of the ocean's wild food. She was lovely and we harvested 12 great fillets from her flanks. Our bellies are full and the freezer is holding what we could not consume last night or today.

The forecast is calling for more wind tomorrow, 15-20 which likely means 25. And wind for at least another half day after that. So if all goes well we should put some good miles under our keel in the next couple of days. As of 16:45 today we have seven hundred and forty four miles to go.

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