Three Nights at Sea – Part 1

I’ve been fretting over this part of the trip since I knew it was necessary. What the hell am I going to do cooped up on a boat for three days at sea? If I try to read, I’m afraid I’ll get seasick. I can do yoga before it gets too hot. That’ll kill an hour. I can cook, if it’s not too rough. I brought decks of cards, dominoes, and Pirates of the Caribbean Battle Ship. I guess I’ll figure it out.

Day 1 – No wind. The engines are on and it’s loud. I don’t know how power boaters do this all day. But at least the seas are calm. We throw out the trolling line. Thanks Rekardo from West Marine in San Juan. He really hooked us up. He said, “You’ll catch Mahi with this set-up.” Right. The last time I caught a fish was 24 years ago. It was a 2-pound Drum off my dad’s dock.

Fish on!!! And it’s big! Can’t tell what it is yet. Marc slows down the boat and we get a glimpse. Holy crap – it’s a big Mahi, and it’s beautiful! I run below to grab the gaff.

What’s a gaff, you ask? It’s giant hook mounted at the end of a long pole. When you catch a large fish, you reel it in as close to the boat as possible. Then you basically impale the fish on the gaff and haul it on board. Sound disgusting and violent, I know. And truthfully, it is. But when you want to actually eat what you catch, it’s good to have it.

When I put the gaff in our shopping cart at West Marine, Jeff was like, “what is that?”

“It’s a gaff.”

“What’s it for?”

“You need it when you catch big fish.”

“We don’t need that. We’re not going to catch anything that big.”

“You never know.”

“We don’t need it.”

“I’m buying it.”

I won.

Now, I sure hope someone on this boat knows how to use it. It just looks like some ancient torture device to me. Mike hands me the GoPro, I hand him the gaff, and before you know it, our future dinner has bled all over the aft deck. Did we get a picture? Of course not. I do have a shot of Mike holding the head before I filleted the body, but it’s pretty graphic. If you want to see it, let me know. Oh, and since no one on board actually knows much about fishing, (like, when the fish is on board, stop reeling) we snapped the rod. But at least we landed the fish first. And here’s the best part. Jeff filled the bucket with sea water to rinse the blood off the deck and off the fish. And as he began to pour the water on the fish, like just AFTER he started pouring, we realized that one of our bedroom windows (the one right next to the fish) was open. Yep, had to clean fish blood off the ceiling and the wall all the way across the room. New pillow cases were in order, too.

Now, who’s going to attempt filleting this 50″ Mahi? (Yes, we measured it.) I’ll do it. I don my Kevlar gloves, and Mike hands me the fillet knife. How hard can it be? After all, Mike has already gutted it. Wasn’t so bad. Three hours later we’re eating fried Mahi, and there are enough fillets in the freezer to feed all of us about 5 more times. Stay tuned.

Click here to watch this episode on YouTube.

December 2019