Saturday, 29 April 2017

Fishy Business Again




















On April 15th we departed Martinique, turning north again to cover more miles in our quest. We aimed for St. Martin, a smallish island with a large pond in the middle, all bisected by an international border - it's half French and half Dutch. The passage took us two days and 20 hours, covering around 280 nautical miles, a sedate pace that included typically uncomfortable sections, specially in the passes between the islands where the currents run strong.

However in one of those island passes Ley hooked another big Mahi Mahi, a fish that managed to slow the boat down from our 6 to 7 knot classic fishing speed. Kind of daunting really .... it went slanting off sideways on the line, tacking against the movement of the boat and then tacking back across the stern. I woke Ley as I retrieved our second unladen line, clearing the way for this big one to be retrieved.

It took another 10 minutes before we had it at the stern, and then another 5 minutes to get it on deck, at which time we shared some of our best white rum with the fish, but got no thanks, just a lot of angst.

So more rum, several times over, eventually did the trick and the magnificent fish did its magical (and somehow sad) color change, as the life force departed.

We cut two huge fillets off the fish and blessed the sea with the rest, chilling the fillets down before skinning them, so that no scaling was required. The admiral tells me we'll get 10 meals off the catch, that is great fishing.

Next morning we approached the coast of St. Martin, the western French side, in kind of sloppy conditions with a big east north east breeze blowing. We anchored off shore in calm conditions, but within 24 hours there were ocean swells running through the anchorage, heaving Crystal Blues sideways 5 meters at a time, and truly straining our friendship with St. Martin.  We could of course have moved into the lagoon, through a drawbridge that opened three times a day, and had uncertain water depths  ... instead we moved north, further into the lee of a natural point of land. There we enjoyed calm conditions and used our dinghy to explore into the lagoon - much better to run the surf into the lagoon in a small boat!

Once inside we found, on the French side, a cruisers paradise - flat water, relaxed officialdom and all the creature comforts of France, delivered in a laid back Rasta kinda way.  Cross the lagoon to Holland and things became decidedly more precise and up-market, driven by the amazing number of super yachts that were berthed there. On the down side, most of them were power boats, however it was a splendid sight. St Martin seemed like a great place to do boat work, and have a damn good time despite that. We provisioned quickly, on the Dutch side, and prepared for our next passage, just eighty nautical miles to the British Virgin Islands.



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