March 9, 2013 by Last Star blog
Bees to Blue Marlins….
So we went to Eleuthera to weather the westerly storm and to re-provision on groceries. It was a hot hellish trip there with little wind and a brutal sun beating down on us from the south as we moved to the north east. We spent 7 days in Eleuthera getting food, hardware, a windsurfer!,
and doing laundry. It is amazing how fast the days go by when you feel like you are doing nothing. Now I won’t go into all the details of how the clerk at the grocery store gave us a ride back to Pascals and our dinghy as we had way too much stuff to carry. Or how Joey was understanding at the liquor store (only takes cash) when my debit card expired in January and I had to go back to the boat and get another debit card that was actually good in late February. Hard to believe that I could go a full month NOT knowing I’m carrying around an outdated card–hey it’s Bahamian time! I won’t talk too much about the lady who offered us a ride to the Laundromat as we were loaded down with 3 bags of laundry in anticipation of Cole’s arrival. When I was at Sammy’s getting some oven baked chicken the women in there wanted to give me more cabbage from their garden as they said you need to have plenty of cabbage. No the list of nice things the Eleutherans in Rock Sound did for us is way too long. Crossing from the Exumas back to Eleuthera for food, booze and the ATM was worth the effort, the nice Bahamians from Rock Sound made it even better.
So on the 5th of March we set out very early to return to the Exumas; hopefully getting a mooring in the Exumas Park for the evening. The wind was forecast at east-northeast about 10 knots perfect; typical direction and speed after a big blow. We had about 14 miles to cover in the bank before we reached the ocean and set out for Cambridge or Wardrick Cays. Well the wind was a disappointing 4-6 knots as we were leaving Powell Point. We were barely making 3 knots and would arrive in the Exumas about 1:00 in the morning! Not good. We decided to raise the blue and yellow “gennaker” or asymmetrical spinnaker. This all went fine but it barely gave us an additional knot as the wind was still fading. Well as we were crossing into the deeper waters just off of Eleuthera we got another strong hit on the line and shortly afterwards I was pulling in a snapped stainless steel leader and my lure was again lost to the fishes of Eleuthera. Arrggggg! About another hour later when we were 7-8 miles off the coast of Eleuthera Patricia spotted a bee in the cockpit. Normally these things don’t excite us but we don’t like the cats getting excited and chasing bugs through the cockpit while we are at sea as with the slick fiberglass surface they could slither off and become fish food. So Patricia got the fly swatter and made short work of the bee. What the hell is a bee doing out here? Fast forward a few minutes (doesn’t feel like it reading this huh?) and there is another bee? In fact 2-3 bees? Whap whap whap….. and again the coast is clear. Five more minutes and more bees….WTF? Now the wind has died to near zero, keeping the sails full and not wrapping themselves into knots and beating themselves is now as near an irritation as the bees so we decide to douse (lower in sailor speak) the gennaker or head-sail. Normally Patricia drives the boat while I do this but as we are not moving the driving is not necessary. So we both go forward, loosen the necessary lines and such and prepare to lower the sock that grabs the whole sail. As we look up we see that the top of the mast and sock is now home to about 300 bees!!! Here? In the middle of the ocean? OK, not the middle but damn far for a bee to fly from where ever. Now we can’t do nothing, the sock has to come down, the sail doused so we bring down the sock, the bees are not so happy but not apoplectic either. This is all in keeping with the “voyage of the damned”–thanks Dan. We gingerly pile the sail on the deck (remember there is no wind) and hope that the bees will abandon the sail now that it is in a grey nylon sock or tube. In fact the bees seem saddened to have lost the 50 foot tall blue and green “flower” they were worshiping and are now lost and confused so they move to the rear of the boat and the cockpit and are swarming…..great! Cats alarmed, humans alarmed….for now no one is stung. OK, start the damn engine and let’s get out of here. We fire up the diesel and lay in our 2400 RPMs and our 7 knots and high-tail it out of there–sort of. Well after about 15 minutes the bees are in fact getting dusted off, the hundreds that were perched on the arch and solar panels are now gone. How do we get into these situations.
OK, now fast forward 25 miles and we are about half a mile from the entrance to the Exuma Park and I am getting ready to pull in our fishing line (new lure, actually really old and ugly lure) and ZIIIIINNNNGGGGG! goes the line. I chop the throttle to slow the boat, tell Patricia to hard left (Port for our nautical friends) to stay out of the park–fishing is illegal in the park and huge fine! I grab the rod and slowly start to add drag. Well this fish is fighting….not like the one from Eleuthera but still a handful on the $60 Wal-Mart Shakespeare special. Well after about 20 minutes this was pulled beside the boat.
Now no way was this going into our net and we needed to get it aboard to get the hook out so what now? Well we heard of someone who slipped a rope around a Wahoo’s tail to get it aboard….we’ll try that. We get a line out and put in a noose or loop and as I pull the fish forward Patricia drops the rope in the water behind the fish. I’m supposed to slide the fish back and its tail goes into the noose. Bullshit….not going to happen. We tried and tried, slowed the boat further, everything. No go. OK, now what? Oh!! We’ll slip the noose over the rod, down the remaining line, over the fish’s snout, down his body and too his tail. Sure it could happen…..
Well once the line was on the tail I gave Patricia the rod, I swung the fish on board like a giant pendulum and we dropped him in the space along the rail. We got the hook out and took some snaps of this Blue Marlin. It seems that the Bahamian fishing rules require that bill fish be released except in tourneys. What was truly amazing was how he flashed the bright blue, I don’t know how they do that or what causes it.
So that was a pretty exciting end to our second crossing in a week. How we went from bees to Blue Marlins all on the same day remains a mystery–more Voyage of the Damned.