I won't say we've given up fishing - we haven't - but events have somewhat overtaken our pre-occupation with our No Fish status.
A couple of disincentives: a shift to squally weather and, as the miles roll back (500 to go), fatigue. Now, as Alex is wont to say, "if I had a crewed boat, I'd....(blah blah blah)". I don't take offence. I pull my weight, but there's one of me, and I'm not what you'd call muscle-bound. I couldn't, for example, help him pull in the gennaker if the breeze got up suddenly to, say, over 15 knots, so after that first idling-along day out of Panama City we've not taken it out of the bag even if, on some days, it would have been a better choice of sail than our heavy-weight genoa.
The same goes for fishing. If we're pitching around in rolly seasLas, and we catch a Big One, can we land it? Let's get real here.
We don't know what's cooking up these squalls - this is when you'd love to have a weather fax on board so you could rustle up a synoptic chart - but they've been slamming us for 35 knots as they bear down on us from the east south-east. Not exactly tropical. When you're concentrating on keeping the boat trucking - i.e. stable and moving fast - down swells which are running up to 3 metres in that kind of breeze it's disappointing, but pretty obvious, that you don't put out a line. You think to yourself, tomorrow. We'll have fish for dinner tomorrow.
The last big fish we failed to bring in made off with the lure too. That was about five days ago, I think. Time is very blurry now. I remember it was just as d'Oude Liefde was coming into sight, and there we were, headsail furled (to slow down the boat - tip from Elias), reefed main, bobbing about like a small dinghy and fiddling around on the aft deck like the odd couple, trying to make sense of another fishing adventure gone belly up. And that's when d'Oude Liefe (which in Dutch means something like heart's delight) came bearing down on us, under yankee and jib and reefed mainsail, no mizzen sail, like the grande dame that she is, confident in her head-turning beauty, with Gerard at the wheel, and the boys and Rebecca up on deck, waving, as they made a couple of sweeps past us, and then gybed once again to resume course. D'Oude Liefe isn't cruising. She's on a mission, with a pit-stop only planned for Hiva Oa, and next stop Tahiti. Gerard, who is a medical prof in Melbourne, has a job to get back to by August. He doesn't have time to muck around in boats really, though you sense he's longing to.
I can't post pictures of D'Oude Liefde now, but if you go back a few posts, you'll see her ahead of us in the Miraflores Lock of the Panama Canal. She's New Zealand-flagged, 67 feet long, and if you're into pretty boats, you'd pick her out of a crowd every time.
Rebecca came on the VHF as we passed each other to ask if we had any chocolate icecream. This is her first ocean voyage (nothing like throwing a girl in the deep end - "but she's taken to it like a duck to water", according to Gerard). I think of her often with four men to feed (Gerard, plus two de Jong nephews and an extra able body). It's hard physical work cooking on the ocean. A better stretch than pilates, and not nearly as safe. "Permission to come aboard," Rebecca piped up when I replied that we had no ice cream but we did have a stash of dark chocolate. I'd keep some for her when we got to Hiva Oa, I promised, but with this wind, I think d'Oude Liefde will have bounded away and by the time we arrive in Hiva Oa she'll be gone. More's the pity. We enjoyed their company in Panama. Not your usual ocean-going contingent, that's for sure.
Who is? Who are the people on the other boats out here, those faint, crackly voices we pick up once a day on the Pacific Magellan net "sched"? Who is Martha on Silver Fern? She sounds as though she knows what she's talking about (do I?). Why does that poor woman on Maranatha whose husband reports that she is still seasick ("she always is, from the first day of every passage till the last - we've tried everything") want to be out here? Who is that chirpy German on Joshua? And how did he land that 22 kg wahoo? Roger that.
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