From The Depths.
Though it was our first morning at sea we were eager to get a line in the water, hoping for some fresh fish onboard. At Dawn, Kitale had set up a pink skirt lure off the starboard side, and the long wait began, everyone wishing for the scream of the reel!
Our sea conditions so far had been incredible. Flat ocean and steady winds carrying The Nanook and her faithful crew effortlessly towards their ever expanding horizon. We raced along at 9-10 knots, 1st reef in the main sail and a full genoa with a steady 18 knot wind from the north. The Tasman Sea washing past as we gained distance towards New Zealand.
It was my watch, so I went outside to complete the usual rounds, heading correct, sails set, nothing chaffing and a visual inspection of the running gear and rig. Just as I sat down to enjoy my freshly brewed coffee, I heard the sound we had all been waiting for! Zrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...
The reel started running with a ferocious whir, whatever was on the end of the line, it was big. All hell broke loose as I yelled "fish on" and all the crew scuttled from out of their 'hidy holes' and onto the deck. While I was reeling frantically, trying to win a losing battle, the rest of crew had the difficult job of trying to slow The Nanook down. Now trying to put a muzzle on a 30 ton vessel is no easy feet, so with Captain Geoff at the helm, he swung her into the wind as both Al and Kit furled away the Genoa in an effort to half her sail area.
With The Nanook somewhat tamed but still moving steadily, the real fight began. Geoff then handed the vessel over to Al in an effort to help me as I was surely losing. It soon came to our attention that we had no way of getting the fish onboard, so kit threw down the camera and set out in search of something we could use as a gaff. Moments later he emerged from below decks with a speargun shaft. That’ll have to do!! Geoff and Jordy fought to get the fish to the vessel, gloves on hand over hand.
As the big blue shadow got closer, and we could make out a shape, wagers began to be made.
“It’s a Wahoo!”
“No ways, that’s got to be a bull Mahi”
“Look at the colours, it must a Blue Fin!
As the fish drew closer, looming large, so too did the excitement of the crew! By this time, I had tagged out with Kit as my arms had turned to jelly. With Kit on the reel, I tied the spear shaft off to a hard point in the cockpit, slung on a life jacket and tied myself in, leant far over side with spear in hand awaiting my moment to strike.
It was now a few meters off the side and getting within striking distance, so I steadied my footing and began to raise the spear. Poised ready to strike as soon as the fish came to the surface. A tail fine broke through the surface with a vicious splash.
Geoff then yelled out, “Wait!". I halted my advance, gazing at this 2.5 meter giant. Geoff continued " Its a baby Marlin ".
The boat fell silent as we all looked over the side at the stunning king of the open sea, colours of blue, turquoise and grey I have never before seen, perfectly adapted and purpose built for its environment. Then in the blink of an eye, as if to remind us who’s world we where now immersed in, this creature spat the hook out and sprayed us all on its way back down to the depths, where it belonged.
With that show of pure power, we all looked at each other in amazement. The feeling and rush it left in its wake far outweighed the hunger in our bellies. It was a moment of pure joy to see such majesty and to release it back to the sea to be free once more.