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Big Fish

October 10, 2011

Day 12

Local Noon Position (1123):
By GPS: 03.57.97N by 144.31.63W
By Sextant: 03.59.5N by 144.32W

Course: 15 degrees true
Speed: 6.1 knots
Wind: 11 SE
Sea: 2 – 4 ESE
Sky: 20% occluded. Consistent moderate cumulus. Large cells in Bar: 1012
Temp: 79 degrees

Since last noon: 138 (best day of passage)
Total for passage: 1301
Daily Average: 118

Wind increased again in the night and I was frequently on deck. Reefed the main and jib (no mizzen flying) at 0300 in 15 knots of wind, which left us with not much sail up, but it helped Murre stay on course and didn’t slow her down at all. It amazes me what little sail it takes to get up to good cruising speed. We averaged 6.1 knots for the last twelve hours of the day, and frequently touched 7 knots…on the GPS (counter current definitely behind us). But second night of not much sleep. Even when my head was down, I didn’t seem to go off deeply. Not sure why.

Lovely constellations: Sagittarius, Scorpio, and Orion. Jupiter in the NE and Polaris soon. I shot Anteres, Fomalhaut, Vega and the moon at twilight and got nonsense in return.

At 0630 poked my head out of the hatch to see a big fish being towed on the line. I’ve been dragging a lure almost since leaving Bora Bora. This is the second fish and a big one–a 44 inch Dorado, bull male. He barely fit inside the cockpit sole. The most beautiful fish in the sea, I think, from a coloration perspective–blue, green, stripped and spotted. Beautiful, but delicate. Within five minutes of dying, he’d turned almost pure white. Then I got the knife out and things got ugly.

It’s the danger of fishing–you might catch more than you can eat. Even with my sloppy carving, I ended with two long, pink fillets totaling five pounds or better. Half I sliced into thin strips which are now salted and drying in the sun on two trays atop the dingy. The rest I ate as sushi with rice (before my morning coffee, even) or cooked off. This took till 0830, at which point the wind had risen to 17 knots and I had to make sail adjustments.

So it’s been a busy day from the start.

Cloud cover is beginning to become better organized. For days last week there wasn’t a cloud at all or if was, it was small and dry like those in the desert or the backside of a mountain. But now cumulus are in the sky almost constantly, and we’ve sailed under or beside two cumulus cells of several miles in diameter, one of which was pouring with rain. Neither had much height, but they were the largest groupings I’ve seen so far. This means we’re approaching the ITCZ. Such cloud formations should become more frequent neighbors as we move north.

Wind continues fair, 12 – 15 knots between ESE and SSE. But forecasts call for it to diminish as we enter “The Zone” over the next day or two.


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