Saturday, May 16, 2009

Starting our way back to the mainland ...

We are at anchor off New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay, probably the last major settlement we'll visit in the Abacos on our way back to the mainland. We've still got almost two weeks in the islands, but most of our stops will be at uninhabited cays. In Marsh Harbour three days ago, we had a wonderful farewell dinner aboard Alizee with our new friends Brian and Sheree ... they brought the most wonderful Stone Crab claws, which we all agreed were the sweetest crab meat any of us had ever eaten. 

The next day we sailed down to Hope Town for a brief visit with Dave and Phoebe Gale, who own and live on the largest of the Parrot Cays and whom we'd met on our day out on the schooner William H. Albury.  Their's is a wonderful story, moving to the islands in 1954, newly married, and building a remarkable life here, and their home on Parrot Cay is truly wonderful (click to see more about them).  We're reading Dave's book Ready About, relishing it, and looking forward to coming back and seeing them again next year.

On the way there, we caught two Yellow Tail Snappers, each about a foot long, and Pen felt they were too small to keep, so we released each of them.  When we told Dave Gale, he said that that's about the size they come in around here and nobody throws them back.  So, we were feeling a bit disappointed but figured we'd earned some good karma.  True enough, the next day, sailing up to anchor at Fisher's Bay, Guana Cay, we caught two more Yellow Tails and have enjoyed a couple of lovely sushi appetizers. 

When we left Guana Cay yesterday to pass through the Loggerhead and Whale Cay cuts into the Atlantic and back into the Sea of Abaco, we trolled as usual, hoping for a couple of more Yellow Tails.  As we approached the northern end of Guana Cay we had a strike ... we were going on a broad reach at almost six knots.  I had a hell of a time bringing this one in ... a three foot, 15 pound Mutton Snapper.  Now I know that I should slow the boat, perhaps heave to in order to reel in such a large fish so you're not also fighting dragging the fish through moving water, but I didn't think of that at the time.  We virtually drowned the poor thing by the time I got her to the side of the boat and Pen was able to gaff her and bring her aboard.  We found a good spot of sand just at the northern end of Guana to anchor and set out to fillet the fish right away ... no room in the freezer for such a big one.  Neptune was paying back our good karma, I think, and Pen cooked up a wonderful recipe last night.

I changed lures after this, putting on a lure that had originally gotten us a Blue Runner a few weeks ago, and we then sailed on through the cuts and around Whale Cay.  Great fun being on the ocean again.  We agreed we both like that better than the Sea of Abaco, but we enjoy that immensely as well. ... When we got inside again and made a turn finally up toward Green Turtle Cay, we had another strike.  We're pretty sure it wasn't a snapper, but we lost it just as we got it up to the boat.  I had had to use only 30 pound leader, and whatever it was (maybe a Spanish Mackeral) bit through the line.  Having the dinghy hanging off the back and hardly able to see the fish at this last stage of landing it certainly didn't help.  Oh well, we've plenty of fish, more lures, and more days of sailing.   Whatever, we're doing pretty well.  We've caught a Blue Runner, three Mutton Snappers, four Yellow Tails (releasing two of them), and lost about three others, including this last one.  Not bad for sailors who are playing at fishing.


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