April 21, 2009.
This morning the wind was supposed to clock around through the west. Surprise; we’re sitting here pretty much unprotected from the west. The wind was supposed to be 10 to 15 knots with the possibility of 30 to 40 knot squalls. We could have moved the 3 miles across the Sea of Abaco and had good westerly protection but we didn’t.
We decided to stay put based on 3 things. First was that the event would be during the day, when things go to hell it’s always nice to actually be able to see the gates of hell. Second, if we moved across we’d have protection only from the west, meaning we would have to move back as soon as the front passed. The third thing for us to consider was the fact that it’s been pretty windy the last few days and our hook was well set, it’s completely buried.
The front passed as it was supposed to and we did get hit by a few of the squalls with the highest gust we saw being 32 knots. We had nobody to windward of us so we didn’t have that to worry about. We were fine but 2 of our neighbors did drag a bit. They both did a little fancy footwork and did manage to get their anchors down again safely. As you can see, Molly really didn't enjoy the thunder that accompanied the front.
At 1300 hours the front officially passed and the sun came out. The breeze was back under 10 knots so we decided to hit the water once again. On the ocean side of the cay the water was calm and visibility was decent. After about 20 minutes of seeing nothing noteworthy I came across the biggest lobster I’ve seen this year. I had my spear within inches of his beady little eyes but I couldn’t drop the hammer on him. Lobster season ended on March 31st and I just couldn’t do it. I wanted to, he was freaking huge but I just didn’t want to screw up my karma.
It almost killed me, but after watching him for several minutes I continued my swim with my karma intact. Almost immediately I was rewarded with another nice hogfish. After the hog I swam for another hour before I saw another fish I was interested in. It was another good sized hogfish about 25 feet below me.
Hogfish is my favorite seafood and fortunately they’re not the brightest fish in the sea. They have a chameleon like quality so they prefer to sit still and blend in rather than to try and outrun you. Evidently, this guy hadn’t read the manual. As I dove down upon him he scooted into a small opening in the reef. Crap. While I was down there I peeked inside and came face to face with a good sized grouper. Eureka. My spear was already cocked so I shot as the grouper wheeled and darted back into the opening.
He made it into the opening but not before my spear had ripped through his tail and out through his abdomen. But there was a problem….. Between his dorsal fin, his tail and his tenacity I couldn’t pull him ass first back out of the hole. This is where the whole people need to breathe air thing started to get real important. I had to leave my spear and surface so I could continue to be counted among the living.
After about 10 dives to the bottom I was exhausted and had to concentrate on my breathing as I found myself starting to hyperventilate over this stupid fish. Ommm Ommmm…. No matter what I did I couldn’t get this fish out of the hole. I was exhausted, he had a six foot spear sticking out of his ass and was acting like he was only inconvenienced. In this situation if you give the fish some time they’ll usually die and make the retrieval a whole lot easier. Unfortunately, the wound wasn’t mortal. He still had plenty of fight in him while I was wondering why my corner hadn’t thrown in the towel yet.
Finally, I went down and looked at the back of the rock that he was under and found that there was a slightly larger opening. He was facing this opening and I could see my spear point. I was tempted to unscrew the point and pull the fish off the spear but he was still fresh as a damned daisy and I knew there was no way I could hold onto his slimy ass.
Fortunately Norm was close by and he came to my rescue. He went to the hole at the back of the rock and shot Mr. Grouper in the face. Using his spear he was able to draw the now dead grouper and my spear out the back of the hole. The thing looked like a damn porcupine with 2 six foot spears sticking out of him but as long as he ends up in the bucket, that’s what counts.
So from the time I first shot the grouper it was probably 30 minutes before we started hunting again. As soon as I turned the next corner I watched as a huge tail slipped behind the reef. The blood in the water had drawn a very large Bull Shark. I only saw the last 4 feet of the shark and it was all tail, no dorsal fin or anything forward of that. I told Norm he was there and headed for the dinghy. Norm took a peek over the reef and confirmed it was a 10 foot Bull Shark. He had to tell me twice because the first time he said it, I was already standing in the dink.
We moved the dinghy about a mile down the reef and started again but by this time the sun was getting lower in the sky and visibility was deteriorating.
We’ve decided that we can spend one more day here on the reef before we have to get underway to make the next weather window to cross back to the states. So we’ll see what the tomorrow brings….