L O G B O O K - by John Philp


The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be
only the beginning. - George Baker (1877-1965)

MON 29th MAY - It is day four of Tau’s passage from the Galapagos Islands to the Marquesas islands in French Polynesia. The tradewinds are from the East at 17 knots. We find two more squid on deck this morning.

I’m watching several Mahimahi at close range, cleaving their way through a fleeing school of flying fish. We’ve seen hundreds of flying fish before winging out of the way of our plunging bow, but this is different. The panic in their flight is palpable. “Run Forest, run!”. Oh the unremittingly cruel realities of life on the bottom rungs of the food chain! “. I was secretly hoping our fishing line would provide the final link in the food chain but the mahimahi were busy enough chasing their moving feast.

TUE 30th - The wind has freshened to 20 knots from the south-east so we take down the fisherman.

At night phosphorescence appears all around us : blinking, like glowing lumps in some cosmic radioactive soup. It rains hard for a time and Monifa and I seek shelter in the wheelhouse, closing the door behind us. When we emerge the last few rain drops are igniting iridescent spots on the surface of the sea all around us. In our trail the phosphorescence glitters as the stern lifts and sways in the valleys of the following sea. Up-front our plunging bow wave is throwing out phosphorescence impregnated spray thirty feet on either side, so laden with glimmering light it looks like fresh snow in moonlight.

WED 31st - It’s a fine day again and the wind varies between 10-20 knots from the south-east. The catch today is : one skipjack, and one mahimahi. Tony throws a skipjack back where it came from as we have so many fine fish in the freezer.

THUR 1st JUNE - We catch two fine mahimahi today, and throw another skipjack back - we’re getting good at this, on the deck and back in the water swimming - in 5 seconds flat!

A fine day once again, wind 20 knots SE. Thundering along, bearing down on Marquesas. We lose a fine hard-working lure today. Sefo and Monifa are on deck when, ‘zing!’ - the line goes whizzing past them. Stunned, they look astern to see a great sailfish rearing up on it’s tail, skipping across our wake, the lure still hanging from it’s mouth. Then, just like that, it’s gone. “Holly fish cakes! Did you see that?”.

FRI 2nd - More fishing excitement. A mahimahi takes the lure but slips off it as I take up the line. I had noticed it’s mate right beside it perhaps thrilled by the chase and sensing that our lure was a meal in the offing. As I hold the limp line and the first fish disappears this second one grabs the lure. It holds fast this time and a minute later we have a good sized mahimahi lying on deck, it’s rainbow colours changing by the second as it lays there exhausted.

SAT 3rd - We gybe onto starboard to get a little northing on as we’d strayed south of the rhumb line. Wind ESE 15 knots. It’s been happy fishing for us on this passage. There are five mahimahi’s, two yellow fine tuna, and one skipjack packed away in the freezer. Suffice to say we’ve been eating fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Monifa and I are on watch when a mahimahi takes the lure, fighting like mad. As I’m steering she pulls it in herself, me helping a little with one hand on the line and one on the wheel. Because of this we’re a little slow and at the stern a black unrelenting shadow chases the mahimahi, playing cat and mouse with it, eventually taking it whole, lure and all. Our catch has been stolen by a shark! It’s too big to fight, the line burning tracks in my hands as it motors off, so I wind it around a winch and let the line go taut and finally break.

We’re still barreling along at speed.

SUN 4th - We lose another mahimahi, this time over the side. Sefo hauls it up on deck without a problem but we are keeled over a little and it manages to wiggle it’s way out from between both his legs, and Lydia and Monifa’s!

It is day ten of our passage. The trackless immensity of this mighty body of water is daunting. The mother of all oceans - the Pacific - largest single geographic feature on planet Earth. Occupying one third of the globe and containing nearly half of all it’s water. Home to 27,000 islands, and the deepest point on earth near Guam. Who would know if we were to be swallowed up by this vast sea?

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