March 2, 2010.
Hopefully, the foul weather will soon be a February memory.
A couple of weeks ago I posted a short video of a Hammerhead shark patrolling under our boat. When some other boats had a similar experience as ours, there was a bit of chatter about it on the VHF. There was also a local Bahamanian fishing boat in the area and he got involved.
A typical large fishing operation in the Bahamas consists of a 30 foot “mothership” that tows several small hard bottomed fishing skiffs behind it. They anchor the big boat somewhere protected and take off in the skiffs to hunt lobster, fish and conch. They might be in the area for 2 weeks before heading on to other fishing grounds.
So the small fishing boat pulled into the anchorage and dropped the hook. They started chumming the water a bit to draw the shark near. In one of the larger chunks of bait they inserted a large hook with a steel leader and a hundred feet of line. At the end of the line they tied a 15 pound anchor and to that they tied a float.
The Hammerhead swallowed the hook and took off dragging the anchor across the bottom. One of the guys jumped in the skiff, used the float for a reference and herded the shark to keep him in shallow water. After a short while the shark was exhausted and they grabbed the float and pulled the anchor up into the skiff. Then they spent a bit of time dragging the shark around with the skiff. The sharks energy level jumped up initially, but he soon succumbed, completely exhausted. He was brought alongside the big boat and shot in the head. Once on deck he measured out at a tad less than 12 feet.
The whole operation took less than 2 hours. They showed up, looked for a particular fish, found him, caught and killed him. They don’t like sharks in the area and don’t hesitate to remove them. We were told that they would not eat the shark either, but we don’t know why. Amazing. Don’t underestimate the Bahamanians in the water.
On the other hand……lets talk about the gringos. There’s Americans, Canadians, Germans, and English down here so I’ll lump em’ all together as Gringos.
We leave the VHF on all night especially during bouts of bad weather. The other night at 0030 we heard Cloud 9 hailing his friends on Naked Sail with some alarm in his voice. They had been at his boat for an evening’s entertainment and he wanted to know that if they remembered seeing his dinghy when they left to go home. The reply was “sure, it was definitely there”. Evidently, in the 40 minutes that had passed since they left to go home their hosts dinghy had floated away.
It was pitch black out and blowing 20 to 25 out of the west. Barry jumped in his dink and headed over to pick John up to go in search of the wayward dinghy. Our dinghy was raised for the night so we did our part by searching the sand flats and shoreline as best we could with a pair of binoculars to no avail. They searched for more than an hour until by a stroke of good fortune they found the dinghy on the rocky shore at the extreme northern end of Ragged Island. Another 50 feet north and it would have been “next stop, Africa”.
The next morning several of the dinghies in the area went back out to the point in an effort to recover a dinghy anchor that was left behind while kedging the dinghy back out into deeper water. After they all retired to their respective boats they were rehashing the events on the VHF when somebody broke in with "Hey, another dinghy is floating away”. Sure enough, we looked topside and there went another dinghy drifting away. Soon enough it was safely recovered and returned to its rightful owner. All I can say is “Who taught these people to tie knots?” Neither of the dinghy painters failed, they just both came undone. Sheesch.
Remember the wise words of sailors long past…..If you can’t tie a knot, tie it a lot.