I love the sunrise at sea, perhaps even more than the sunsets, because they hold more promise. Our current passage is a brief one by FG standards, only 220 nautical miles, but it will be sailed on a single tack, and we've nearly covered it already. As I write, she makes way in eleven knots of breeze, but even with a reef in the main, we're doing almost nine knots boat speed. Conditions are regatta excellent, and have been since we lifted anchor in Port Vila.
The instruments tell me we are only twenty-eight miles from our destination in the Loyalty Islands, Lifou. It's exciting for all of us as none of us have ever been there. But none of us had ever visited Vanuatu before either, and yeah, this is the cool part folks, a new beginning on a regular basis.
A rustling, crinkling sound is interrupting my concentration, I look up from the iPad and see that it's Art having a bit of breky. He's standing next to me on the aft deck, and he's torn into a bag of cheese twisties. This is after Tea already made him eggs, but hey, sailing oceans makes you hungry, and on passage, we all tend to Hoover up everything within easy reach.
We both pulled the dawn watch. My head is still groggy after the previous one, it's like a hangover, but without the alcohol. My last shift was 10 until 2am. Yes, we're short handed, but that's another story, and I'm not going there, but anyway, it's a stunning day in paradise, we are on a fabulous calm ocean, sailing beautifully aboard an amazing ship, so no bitching allowed.
Andrea, the samurai fisherman, hooked into a monster yesterday. We're talking about a fish of Hemingway-like proportions. It grabbed the hook like a thief grabs a loose purse in a crowd and ran like hell. It ran so hard that all we could do was watch as six hundred meters of line spun away until the reel was flat empty. All four of us were on deck by that time, but there was nothing anyone could do except roll away the genoa, head up into the wind, and try to ease the pressure on the line.
Once the line ran out, the only thing left holding the fish was the knot tied around the spool. We were all certain it would snap off and that would be, quite literally, the end, but it wasn't. Andrea cautiously lifted the rod from its holder and cranked in a few turns, then a few more, and over the course of the next hour and a half, he managed to reel in over five hundred meters of line. The fight was epic, the line stretched and twanged like a guitar string, and the fish? He was awesome, there's absolutely no doubt in this, no exaggeration applied, this was a massive critter.
This fish had gulped our sparkly squid lure and plummeted straight down like a rock, six hundred meters worth of down, and for Andrea, it felt like he'd hooked onto a passing submarine. He battled hard, his hands were red, his arms ached, but whatever this thing was- a massive tuna? Hmmm....maybe. But whatever this thing was, it was pure bastard. Andrea slugged it out through a full slate of rounds with Hemingway's monster until the final bell. He'd get a hundred meters worth of line put away, only to be forced to watch, as this thing would suddenly start running again, and take it all back.
The sun was gone by this time, but none of us were giving up. Andrea fought until he had his fish within thirty meters of the transom, and we were prepared. Art had the gaff ready, we had Andrea's long knife out- his samurai sword- we had the speargun, a second knife just in case, we even had a club. So damn straight, we were ready to take this thing down, we were ready for blood, we were gonna whack' em, part him out, and stuff as much of him as we could into the freezer- we were all tasting the sushi!
Tea was grinning and vibrating with excitement- we all were... And then came the judges decision, and they gave the points to the bastard fish! No!!! You have got to be jerking my chain man! No way! So with that announcement, the crowd booed the judges, then threw their empty beer bottles, they had to call in security, while the fish just spits the hook back in Andrea's face like the bastard that he is. So we're all left standing there while this guy leaves the ring in triumph, he heads off with his posse to hit the clubs and celebrate, and yeah, it was insulting.
Art just spotted the first of the Loyalty Islands, so guess who buys the first round once we get there? Ha ha, yep, that's how it works out here folks. The wind has dropped off to just nine knots, but we're still under sail because, why not? It's a fabulous day, on a beautiful South Pacific morning, and so of course- we're Feelin' Good!!!
Currently the mainsail is reef 1 and the genoa is out. The sky is clear, we have good visibility and the sea state is slight. Wind is 13.8 kts from 96°T, the air temperature is 22°C while the sea is 24°C. Our SOG is 10.2 kts with our COG 189°T.