This morning, (Friday, April 20), the yell came from the cockpit "FISH ON" and the reel was running fast – quickly stripping line. Michael got to the fish line, Barbara started to slow the boat down (pulling in sails) and the battle began. Man versus fish. Michael vs. the monster of the deep. Whatever it was is huge and fighting mad. He had nearly stripped the reel clean and Michael fought to get some line back on with about 6 turns left before it would all be gone. Michael would get some in – and the fish would run again. On and on this battle raged. We managed to create a poor man's "fighting belt" out of some foam and a webbed belt so Michael could at least not get quite as big a bruise from the end of the rod. The rag he had wrapped around the rod didn't seem to be quite enough padding. We'll post a picture on the web of our homemade "fighting belt" - it's quite a fashion statement!
After the fish would get close the boat, he'd run again. We could never see it, as it stayed very deep – never surfacing to jump or check out what had him. It seemed to want to go deeper and deeper and Michael said it's movement felt like rolling and head shaking. So we think SHARK of course. He's got one of our favorite lure's in his mouth – the Mexican flag (from Tom) and it's done a great job catching us some fish – so we're hoping we don't lose it.
The battle continues – 70 minutes into it – Michael gets him back close to the boat but he does not seem in the least bit tired (that would be the fish). He tries another run and the fish finally spits out the lure. We get the lure back – a bit worse for the wear and tear – but never saw the behemoth. Michael is nursing a bruise and disappointment for not getting to see what he battled so long. We were ready with a longer, bigger, tail loop line, camera, and gaff hook. But ...it's a fish tale. True, but it is one that got away.
We went through another time zone today – so now we are now the same time as Alaska! One hour ahead of Hawaii. It's weird – all of a sudden you look at the GPS clock and it's an hour earlier. So did that fish battle take ten minutes or two hours and ten minutes. Hmmmmmm.
We have under 700 miles to go and have been steadily making 100 mile days or even a bit more. Michael has to go overboard at some point to look at the bottom. It seems to be covered in a mussel or barnacle critter. This is clogging intakes and outflows, the prop is probably a mess and it certainly is taking a knot at least off our speed. We spoke with a few other boats on our morning radio net and one of them said he had never seen anything grow so fast or so extensive in all his life. His prop was a ball and all the intakes were jammed with the critters. Kathryn of course tells us we are a FAD - Fish Aggregating Device. We're happy to be providing an environmental service to the tunas and fish by supplementing their food supply. But being a FAD, and catching what may have been a shark, Barbara's not too excited about Michael going overboard to do some cleaning and maintenance. Michael probably not so thrilled either. But, we don't want to start the engine to enter a new harbor with the potential for serious over-heating or no steerage due to a fouled prop and clogged engine intake.
Almost four weeks out. Making headway – its still a rough ride – due to the confused seas – but we are making progress and adjusting as best as we can.