Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pacific Critters

As of noon local time, Tuesday, August 7, we have about 120 miles to go to our Cook Island destination. As of this "Day Five" it has been a pleasant trip, though as is usual for us, a bit too much rolling sea. But the sun has been shining, the wind is consistent enough for us to go about 5 knots and all is good aboard the good ship Astarte

The good news is we caught a good size yellow fin tuna yesterday late afternoon. It was wild. We hooked three tunas all at once – well, one shook off but another instantly re-hit the lure. We must have luckily floated right into a feeding frenzy of yellow fins. Both the lines were buzzing, fish were jumping high out of the water and we were scrambling to land at least one of these tasty treats. We tied off the hand line and Michael went for the reel which was humming off the spool. A very large fish was trying very hard to get that hook out of its mouth. One managed to get free, but you could see that another instantly bit the lure again. It was a big fish...and managed to bend the hook and almost straighten the split rings of the lure to get free. We had a rapalla lure on the pole (Richard these are similar to some of the ones you brought us – but this was already rigged!). Then we went after the hand line and sure enough the tuna was still hooked here – (the lure was the blue "feather duster" - a blue and white feathered lure with a big eyed plastic head). We snagged him onboard, l did the obligatory photo shoot as proof of the capture and then Michael filleted him. He should provide at least 6 meals.

This morning, the Pacific gave us another treat. A whale surfaced less than 80 feet away from the boat on the starboard side, swimming parallel with us. We think it was a fin whale and it stayed very close to the boat just swimming at the surface effortlessly. It was about the same length as us. Then it disappeared and we didn't know where (a bit nerve wracking as it is a pretty big creature). Then we see him again, on the port side, about 50 feet away from the boat, again just swimming parallel with the boat. It looked like it was surfing the swells. Then it crossed probably less than 20 feet in front of the boat and we lost it. It stayed with us for some time. A very memorable sight.
Little projects are getting done, but mostly we're simply getting from one place to the next doing our three hour watches, baking bread, snacking, fishing, reading, looking for birds, whales and other creatures of the deep. We participate in a morning and afternoon radio net and Michael has been tapped to be a "net controller" tonight. It's been fun keeping up on the pother boats heading in the same direction and those going elsewhere. At this point, we at least know of most of the boats – if we don't know the people personally. There are three boats ahead of us heading to Suwarrow – two should be getting there today and Buena Vista and us will probably reach there tomorrow. We hope we can make it in by tomorrow – if not we'll have to spend another night out waiting for sunlight to get into the atoll. Lots of reef and coral heads to avoid and you need good light to manage that! So we'll be prudent and wait and not push our luck. If we can maintain 5 knots all day and through the night, we'll make it by tomorrow – if we slow down – we'll probably have to spend another night waiting for landfall.

Happy 21st Nathaniel and Christopher.

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