Wednesday, April 1, 2009

March 25, 2009.

It’s been a few days and my bout with vertigo is pretty much behind me. Something’s going on with my ears, but I’m not really sure what the deal is. It probably has something to do with me spending half of every day in the water. But I’m feeling fine and once again and am back in hunter/ gatherer mode.

We hunkered down behind Raccoon Cay as the winds blew 18 to 25 knots for 4 days. We spent the time hiding behind the cay hiking, reading or spearfishing with the crews from Blown Away and Wild Card.

Norm from Blown Away is the first person I’ve met that can spend as much time in the water as Christy and I can. We’ve both been very successful spearing lobster and fish. The big difference between us is that he uses a Hawaiian Sling, while I use a pole spear. With the pole spear I basically have to get within 4 feet of a fish in order to get complete penetration and a clean kill. The advantage for me is that the spear is 6 feet long and never leaves my hand so the victim is in my control right from the shot. I shoot em’, rip them from the water and flop them into the dinghy as quickly as possible so as not to allow the bleeding prey to draw sharks. Another advantage is that the pole spear is a one handed weapon allowing me to position myself with my other hand.

I have to admit though that the Hawaiian Sling is a pretty neat weapon. The shaft is made of stainless steel with a barbed end. To fire the spear you have to draw it back inside a wooden handle with a hole bored through it. Picture…..firing an arrow from a slingshot. It requires 2 hands but the big advantage is that the effective range is at least twice what the pole spear allows. There are a few disadvantages though. It seems to be a pretty regular occurrence that the spear blows completely through the fish. If it’s not a well placed shot it allows the wounded fish to flee and die without being recovered. Even when the blow cripples a fish it often spins and flops during its death throws spreading blood everywhere while you try to collect it. Then there’s the reality of having to chase down your spear in the event of a miss.

On the backside of Raccoon Cay there’s no real reef, just random scattered coral heads and patches spread over a couple of miles. So if you decide to anchor the dink, work the patch and then get back in the dink to move to the next patch it can be a giant pain in the ass. Sometimes it might only be 30 feet to the next coral head while other times it’s a hundred yards, which is way to far to be swimming with a bleeding fish.

To hunt more efficiently Norm, Christy and I set out in Norm’s dinghy. Christy stayed in the dink while Norm and I swam from coral head to coral head working separate patches. Whenever one of us speared something Christy would race over in the dink and retrieve the harvest. Norm and I were often 200 yards apart with Christy keeping an eye on both of us waiting for the signal.

With 2 people bloodying the water there are bound to be sharks around. After an hour Norm got chased out of the water by 2 aggressive reef sharks. Christy and he came over and collected me, but we decided that it was too early to go home. We went back to the area Norm had been working, as it had been productive. We decided to stay together, one hunting while the other kept watch.

When he dove to the bottom I stayed at the surface and scanned 360°. When he came up, I went to the bottom while he kept watch. Christy was slowly circling the coral head keeping an eye out for sharks as well. Hey look, the sharks are back.

Usually, if a shark comes meandering into view you can send him on his way by swimming aggressively directly at him. They usually are
pretty startled and dart away (It’s pretty funny that while in the water this seems like a logical course of action, but while sitting here writing it comes off as a pretty stupid thing to do). These two weren’t having any of that crap though. They knew something was bleeding and were determined to find it, so we ended up heading back to the boats as they just wouldn’t leave us alone.

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