We were feeling a little sad in the fishing department as we headed into our pizza night dinner last night. In the afternoon, we had hooked a fish on the trolling rod, and I fought it for 40 minutes. It ran over a dozen times, which means it was BIG, bigger than any 25 pound salmon I’ve ever caught. We had the chute down and the engines running to help maneuver Sophie and ease pressure on the fishing line. At one point we even had Sophie going in reverse before we realized that we had forgotten to pull in our meat lines, and, well, you know what happens when you back up a sailboat over any type of line in the water, including meat lines. One of the lines got caught in the propeller and was destroyed along with the elaborate meat line alarm system we had spent hours perfecting.(No damage to the prop, though). Five minutes later the fish got off the hook. So we put the chute back up and continued on our way, fish-sad and a little tired.
Pizza night dinner got off to a great start a couple of hours later. Jenna and I were about to go on watch, so the kids, Jenna and I each had our pizzas in front of us (mine was a thin crust prosciutto, onion and red pepper). Jenna was about to put Rich’s pizza in the oven when we heard a loud
coming from the reel of the trolling rod. Fish on! It was Rich’s turn to fight, so he grabbed the pole, Dan and I dropped the chute, and Jenna started the engines. I shouted to Dan “Hey, please pull in the meat line!” so we wouldn’t repeat the mistake from the afternoon. Dan went over to the meat line, took a look at it, then shouted back “Um, I think there’s something on it.”
Two fish on at the same time!
Dan pulled in the meat line hand-over-hand. This one consisted of 25 feet of 250 pound test line, so it wasn’t going to break. As the fish neared the boat, we saw a flash of green and assumed it was a mahi mahi. We quickly netted the fish and realized it was a beautiful 18 pound yellowfin tuna. Dan whacked that fish, assigned Hazel to hold the net to make sure our new tuna friend didn’t go back into the water, and then we ran over to the other transom to help Rich land a 20 pound yellowfin tuna! What a great passage memory for Rich, and what a tremendous outcome for the boat. Two fish at the same time! 38 pounds of tuna in 10 minutes! Back in Puget Sound, we call that a
All of this was happening as the sun was setting. We secured the fish to the boat and then raised the spinnaker to continue on our way. Once the chute was up I realized that the wind had finally started shifting to the east as forecast. That meant our 36 hour spinnaker run had finally come to an end. We dropped the chute and then raised the code zero and main. By the time we were done it was dark and everyone was exhausted. The boys finally had their pizza and then carved up the fish. We produced 16 dinner-sized vacuum sealed bags of 1 hour old better-than-sashimi-grade yellowfin tuna for our freezer and meal plan for the next couple of days. And to have all of this cap off the longest downwind spinnaker run of our lives in 90 degree sunshine made it a really good day.
Dan was especially proud of his meat line takedown. We had lost 4-5 fish on the meat lines due to either bad lures or no alarm since we started the trip. So Dan designed a special new lure, and boy did it work. He calls it “the Four Hook Surprise”*, and it has now become a permanent addition to Sophie’e fishing arsenal. I also think it would make a good name for a band some day.
From a sailing perspective, we are doing great. Our current position is 08.08 n 125.04 w. We did 146 miles since yesterday, and that included stopping to fish for well over an hour. We crossed the official halfway mark on our trip last night and are only 1344 miles to Hiva Oa. Right now we have the spinnaker and main up and are sailing at 6+ knots on a course of 198 magnetic in 2 foot seas and 10 knots of wind. And it’s getting even warmer.
We spoke with the weather router this morning, and she said the ITCZ is currently more south than usual, running in a band from 05 n to the equator. At this pace we will enter it tomorrow. Her advice was to motor on a straight north-south line through the zone to get past whatever thunderstorms are there. Then we should start picking up a light 10-12 knot ESE breeze on the other side at the equator. At that point we should sail on a rhumb line course straight for Hiva Oa.
I am looking forward to seeing how much speed we can get out of Sophie running on just one engine @ 2200 RPM and the mainsail up. Back home we normally motor Sophie with both engines running @2800 RPM for a speed of 8-9 knots. If our speed on one engine at this reduced power level is in the neighborhood of 6-6.5 knots, then we could have enough diesel to go over 1,000 miles in this configuration. We’ll play around with this tomorrow.
From a food perspective, last night’s pizza night was a huge success, and we’ll use the remaining dough for a pizza lunch tomorrow. We had some Trader Joe’s frozen croissants for breakfast (which helped free up freezer space for fish.) My guess is that fish is on the menu tonight, which will then be followed by a double feature family movie night.
* offshore use only