Well, things are comparatively uneventful on Sophie today after yesterday’s Marlin-palooza. Our noontime position is 28.51S 176.24E, which means we have covered 142 miles in the last 24 hours. That’s not too bad given that we spent 3 1/2 of those hours floating while we fought the fish. After we got the marlin on board, we went back to motoring on one engine until 3:00 AM, when Ravi and I put the main up. Later this morning we were making over 8 knots with jib and main and then code zero and main, but then the wind died again and we are back to motorsailing with one engine. We are making 7 knots over a glassy sea in bright sunshine. It is also beginning to feel much warmer, with the main salon temperature now at 85 degrees F. We have traveled 416 miles since we left Tutukaka Wednesday night, and have another 739 to get to Savusavu. We also have over half of our fuel remaining. So far, so good.
If any of you have a GPS in your boat or phone and keep track of waypoints, please feel free to create a new one @ 31.09S, 175.44E and label it “Dan’s Marlin.” We have done so, and it will be a permanent waypoint our GPS systems from now on.
One of the reasons it took 5 hours to land such a relatively small marlin is that the hook was lodged in the marlin’s back right behind it’s back fin. When marlins attack they make multiple passes at a fish before they bite. Dan saw the pole go WHAM WHAM WHAM and then pause before the line started to run. We assume the fish made a pass too close to the lure, and for lack of a better word, got “hooked.” It also explains why we were able to land a marlin using a relatively small tuna lure, because he wasn’t able to bite through the leader of a lure lodged in its back. During the fight Jenna took some excellent photos of the fish launching straight up behind us and then arcing through the air as it ran parallel to Sophie during the first minute. Once we had the fish landed, we of course hoisted it up by its tail on a halyard for the classic, frameable trophy shot. The marlin produced enough meat to fill 2 five gallon buckets of steaks, which we then vacuum sealed and froze. We left NZ with our freezer half-full in the hope of filling it with fish, and we had enough room for all of the marlin steaks. Which is awesome, because we seared some for last night’s dinner and it tasted just like swordfish. Finally, I saved the marlin’s tail and will mount it to one of Sophie’s stern wind generator poles later today. Apparently, in the cruising world if you have a billfish tail on your stern it’s a sign that you are on a boat that walks the walk.
One other note from yesterday. Immediately before we hooked the marlin, we passed a series of long-line buoys used for offshore tuna factory fishing. This is increasingly becoming an environmental problem down here, and many of the biggest tuna harvesters in the South Pacific come from Spain. Well, immediately after we got the marlin on board, we were hailed by a guy with a Spanish accent. It was the captain of the tuna boat, and he wanted to know what we were doing and if we were all right. This was all in broad daylight on a windless day, and we have passed near dozens of fishing boats over the last 2 years but have never been hailed by one. We talked for a minute, I told him we had just landed a marlin and were busy. He said they weren’t catching much fish because of the moon and that he would have his long lines up in 30 minutes. A few minutes later Jenna noticed that he was 4 miles away, heading straight for us, and we all kind of wondered what was going on. My initial thought was that he was heading for the spot where we caught the fish. We were also a little concerned that he was coming over to barter for marlin, or something else. He soon stopped, and we never saw him again. Upon reflection, I now guess that he was concerned we were a Greenpeace or UN boat that was monitoring his lines, and he called to get more info.
Yesterday provided enough excitement for an entire passage, so we are looking forward to having uneventful days ahead. Since our freezer is full, we have stopped fishing. Dinner tonight will be falafel, tabouli, and Hungarian goulash. And maybe a chocolate mousse.