Finding respite after 50 hours of sailing in a little sandspit within the Los Roques archipelago in the distant coastal waters of Venezuela, Andrew and I enjoy a good bottle of Cartuxa Portuguese wine, a pot of Colcannon and a movie. Mind you all this is at anchor with little or no shelter from the wind and swell but we woke refreshed after a good night’s sleep and set sail for the next of Venezuela’s islands, the Aves.
To sail the 55 miles we needed enough speed over ground to go those 55 miles within daylight. It’s always smart to find your next place of anchor with good light especially out here in the land of reef and sandbars, mangroves and coral heads. The wind was DDW (dead down wind aka at our backs) calling for a spinnaker. We just flew our spinnaker for the first time ever the day before so we were eager and confident to fly her again. Up she went with slight modifications from the day before and how beautiful she is, flying high, all puffed out, brilliant yellow-gold with three corners radiating red and in the morning sun – magnificent. If the apparent wind was 8, our speed was nearly 6; if the wind freshened to 10, our speed was popping 7. That’s 40 tons moving through the sea powered by a 50 foot by 25 foot of fine cloth – that’s what is amazing to see and feel. Like our Gennaker “Big Blue”, our now out-of-the-bag new spinnaker needs a name. As I sit admiring her all sorts of possibilities pass through my brain and I’m sure more will come but one keeps coming around and for now I’m settling on “Puff”. Later today as we doused the spinnaker, just before a squall, and we both were stuffing this big sail in its bag, actually cramming it, through the large hatch into the sail locker, Andrew said we should call it the “Fat Lady” because it made him think of stuffing a fat lady into a small dress.
Well, that fat lady Puff gave INNcredible head for 45 nauti miles today and we thank her kindly.
Now we lay at anchor, nicely tucked in on the lee side of a long spit of sand and mangroves stuffed with roosting birds within the Aves Barlovento.
Lest I not forget, today started off with a zzziiiinng, actually two zings, shortly after we set sail early this morning. And the first line was flying out faster than we could begin to reel. And just as I got that line at a stand off, the other line set off a running. Andrew jumped on that and started reeling in furiously. Andrew’s line was 50 lb. test and mine only 20 and with the bigger fish still not giving me any chance of bringing it in. As Andrew’s big fish was approaching the boat, the dilemma came with both of our hands full reeling in who was going to get the net to bring in the fish. I walked over holding my rod in total tension, making no progress but not loosing any more line, so I could at least hold the other rod while Andrew got the net. By this time the big fish was at the back of the boat and it was really big. It wouldn’t even come close to fitting in the net, this barracuda was 3-4 feet long and mad. Andrew darted to get the gaff. Down on the lowest step of the transom Andrew took a swing with the gaff but it bounced off and the fish went wild. “Gaff it hard or lose it”, I said; so he whacked it good and yanked it on board and threw it on the beautiful teak sole (floor). I gave him my rod in hopes that he might bring this monster of a fish on while I tended to the blood bath and the 3+ foot heavy mean-looking and wiggling mad barracuda. How I managed to subdue Boris the barracuda I will spare you the details but Andrew looked over several times and looked away just as quick as I wielded my machete to address the moment. After all the excitement passed, the scene of the surgery washed down, we enjoyed coconut/panko breaded Barracuda burgers with Andrew’s secret sauce and all the trimmings. The other bigger half of the fillets went into the freezer. My neighbor Tom, who offered me much fishing advice and lent me some of his personal gear, would be proud of us – thank you Tom.