catching small baracuda

Ooooo Barracuda!

Tuesday April 15, 2014

catching baracuda

This morning finally signaled our departure from Bimini.  With east winds keeping us put for just about a full week now, I can’t say that we were disappointed to be sitting here while we were waiting.  This is a really great island and I’m sad we passed right by it last year.  But now it’s time to get a move on, and quickly too.  We have lots of friends already in the Bahamas a lot further south than we are, and we’d really like to be able to catch up with them.  It seems as if a lot of people are congregating in Georgetown Exumas right now, but we’d like to try to make to to Long Island once more for Easter if the winds will carry us down there fast enough.  It’s a long way to go in about five days, but should the winds be on our side, we should be able to put in a lot of miles each day.

The winds when we left were supposed to start of SE but then clock all the way south in the early afternoon, which we needed because with a goal of getting to the Berry Islands via the NW Channel, we needed to go in a southeast direction and did not want to motor into the winds all day.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to make the full 70 miles to Frazier’s Hog Cay, but hopes were that we could get within about 5-10 miles of the channel and anchor in the banks for the night.  The whole area that we’re passing through doesn’t have depths over 25 feet, and if the weather is settled, there’s no issue just dropping anchor right in the middle of it.  You probably don’t want to be right next to the channel and have your anchor light be mistaken for a buoy, or sit right on the path of the magenta line in case anyone is traveling through the night, but winds didn’t look like they were going to get over 15 knots and we weren’t worried about having a bumpy night.

Kim and Jereme on Laho left with us this morning to buddy up for the day and night, and as we exited north Bimini there were a parade of sails all going the same direction, every other boat waiting for the same window that we had.  The sail north out of the lee of Bimini was great, but just as predicted, rounding the North Rock and pointing ourselves at the Northwest channel, winds were almost on the nose.  The headsail had to come in and the engine went on.  Not quite how we wanted the day to go, but we’re just looking to put on miles at this point.  It feels like we spend all of our time now waiting around instead of actually going anywhere.

Laho sailing

Georgie resting under dodgerThe morning was absolutely beautiful, and it was another one of those days that we had to sit back and thinkabout how lucky we are for being able to live this lifestyle.  Our friends back home had just gotten to the office, snow might even still be on the ground (FYI, I could not have survived this past winter if I was back home), and here we were, sunshine and warm tropic waters in front of us.  A quick cup of coffee made from my AeroPress, and I was in absolute heaven.

Just as I was about to pop my head out of the companionway and tell Matt we might as well trail a line while we were moving to since this seemed like the perfect area to catch fish, I found out that he’d already rigged it up while I was below.  We each pulled out our e-readers and settled in for a long day of catching fish, since that’s usually what happens.  Never before have we had a bite on one of our lines while we’ve been trolling.

Imagine our surprise when not even an hour later we felt a tug on the line.  Assuming it was probably seaweed, since that seems to be the only thing our hooks normally grab on to, we pulled in the line to find out there was actually a fish on there!  Not quite sure what it was when we first reeled it in, I went to fetch our Cruisers Guide to Fishing where we quickly identified that it was a barracuda.  Handing Matt a set of gloves and needle nose pliers, he worked the hook out of the fish’s mouth and tossed it back in the water.  It wasn’t until we’d already let it go that I asked “Hey, aren’t those actually edible?”  Apparently they are, but Matt was worried about the possibility of ciguatera.  And with some friends having recently been affected by it and reading about their horror stories, we did not want to take any kind of chance with it.  The line was set once again, and we patiently waited for a large snapper to clamp on.

We did get two more catches during the day, but they were both barracuda.  WTH?  Did we suddenly become experts at catching them?  The second one that came along was huge and, as soon as Matt set about getting the hook out of it’s mouth, this thing began squirting blood like it was a prop on a movie set.  Within moments the whole back area of the cockpit looked like it belonged in a horror movie.  I wish I could have gotten a photo of what it looked like, but I’m not sure all of you would have wanted to see the blood.  I personally love that kind of stuff.  Everyone else?  I’ve heard not so much.

catching small baracuda

Laho sailing

big baracuda


Since most of the other boats that had left in the morning with us didn’t mind burning their fuel at a faster rate as they pushed on at 6-7 knots, our boats fell behind since we didn’t want to put too much pressure on the engine and have anything else go wrong.  Having talked about it earlier in the day, the plan was to make it as far as we could by 7 pm and drop anchor, starting again at day break.  We didn’t even come close to making the miles that we thought, still sitting back 20 miles from the Northwest Channel by the time 7 pm rolled around.  Not only that, but those winds that were supposed to clock around to the south decided to stay on our nose all day and then gust up in the evening.  What was supposed to be a calm night under clear skies and stars turned into the worst anchorage we’ve ever been in.

With nothing to block them from us, the waves built up to a nice chop and were tossing our boats back and forth, back and forth.  It was tolerable while making dinner and even while watching a movie, I’d put on a scopolamine patch to prepare for any kind of seasickness, but trying to sleep was almost impossible.  We both took sides of the salon, neither of us wanting to take the bucking bronco ride that was the v-berth.  Even then I feel like I should have had a lee cloth up on my side to keep me from falling out of bed.  Some of the waves weren’t too bad, it was kind of like being on a not too bad passage, but every couple of minutes one rogue wave would come and toss us on our side.  They always seemed to hit the port side where I was sleeping, so it only rolled Matt further into the nook of his bed while I was left bracing myself so I wouldn’t slide out.  Poor Kim and Jereme are probably completely deterred from sailing now, expecting every anchorage to be like this.

Laho anchored in banks

Having only collected about four hours of sleep by the time the sun came up, although we did purposefully wake ourselves up at 3 am to catch the lunar eclipse, the anchors were raised for more miles to be covered.  Deciding that they didn’t want to spend a second day sailing right into the wind, Laho vetoed going to Fraziers Hog Cay and opted for Great Harbor Cay to the north instead.  I don’t blame them.  If we didn’t have a schedule to keep, we probably would have followed them there.

Laho anchored at sunrise