Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fish ON!!!

Current Location: Underway from Majuro, Marshall Islands
Current Position: 02 35.22 S 178 32.29 E
Next Destination: Savusavu, Fiji
Miles Traveled: 811
Miles to Go: 900

Big news aboard Billabong - two HUGE fish caught!!! The first was on the afternoon of the 20th. Chris had just set out a new lure and was going on about how good it looked in the water; talking about how it dove up "for air" and then sunk down again trailing bubbles. Further describing to me the noise makers that were attached to the lure as well. He was so into it, that I finally had to look for myself. You can tell how exciting passage life is when we both stared out at the lure for a good ten minutes! Within the hour, BAM - our "Fish On" snubber pops out, tightly stretched. "We got a big one!", Chris says. Just as we both look back some type of Bill Fish / Marlin surfaces, and boy howdy is he big. Already we're pretty sure he's too big to keep. I quickly grab a camera and start filming while Chris hand reels the big guy in. Just as he's nearing the boat - BAM - our other "Fish On" snubber goes "Oh no we got another one", Chris shouts as I start laughing at the excitement of it all. But in less then a minute the second line goes slack, thankfully he got off himself. Meanwhile Chris
has pulled in our big guy close enough to realize just how big he is (about 5.5-6 feet), and to confirm he's too big to keep (not to mention that big 'ol bill is a little frightful, as I picture Chris losing a few
fingers). We had to let the line partially back out while we got the proper tools, and so Chris had to hand reel him in again. The hook was not easy to get at, and the fish just didn't understand that we were trying to let him go, so he kept flopping around … so we had to cut the line just above the hook; leaving the Marlin with a fancy new nose ring.

The second fish hooked the following afternoon. We couldn't tell what we had, and from a distance (underwater) we thought it might be a Wahoo - which are quite tasty. So this time when Chris [hand] reeled him in, we were ready, but alas it was a Shortbill Spearfish … about 4.5 feet. There was that daunting bill again, and a beautiful sail. Still a little big, and not the best eating (compared to Tuna and Wahoo), so Chris once again wrestled with the fish in order to get the hook out (which he was able to do) and then released him. No fish for dinner either night, but at least a little afternoon
entertainment to break up our day!

As for the passage we are now making better time with the increased winds. We crossed the equator in the middle of the night on the 20th; thanking King Neptune for our safe journeys and throwing in a wine bottle message (only one this time - we weren't quite as prepared as in our first two crossings). We had a uncomfortable patch the other day, when current counteracted the wind, but by nightfall it was once again smooth going. One squall caught us a bit off-guard and we had to scramble to reef (in the pouring rain of course), but otherwise the skies have been mostly clear and dry. And we've finally decided where we're heading …Fiji (Savusavu). We just haven't been getting in enough Easting, and the forecast doesn't look like much is going to change (in wind direction). (Fiji is at about 180 - just two degrees east of our current location, whereas Samoa is at about 170 W - a good 12 degrees east).

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