As one would suspect, I became a bit unhinged in the transition from managing a busy maternity floor to fretting if the zippers of the cockpit shades are adequately lubricated. I wonder what is the point of all this…in the big picture?
Thus, one cool Friday evening, I laid out for Ian all the reasons this current set-up was not working for me. Bottom line: I felt I needed unrestricted laptop charging and I needed to prioritize internet access.
So Saturday morning, I left Ian to solve the solar panel issue before he went spear fishing, and I went to a café where they roast their own imported coffee beans that are both shade-grown and hand-fed sunshine and rainbows. More importantly, this café had unfettered electricity and internet, all reflected in the price of the latte. I planned to do many important things that would calm my current existential crisis.
In the afternoon, I used the handhelf VHF to call Ian to come get me at the dingy dock.
“I caught dinner,” he tells me on the radio. Nice, I think, he got a chance to spear fish, which means he fixed the third solar panel. I am also happy for him because other than hanging out with me, he’s told me that when he’s spear fishing, there is nothing, absolutely, unequivocally nothing else he’d rather be doing.
Here’s how he tells the story of catching dinner:
I anchored the dingy about a half mile offshore, where the reef drops off. I took the longer spear gun and tied the spear as usual to a float. I dove down and was looking around, mostly looking for grouper, maybe parrot fish or trigger fish. But this time, I saw a school of trevally (known as the bullies of the sea). I dove down and shot one and then the whole school surrounded me. This made me a little nervous so I made these yelling noises into my snorkel and then batted them away as I went to the surface. Trevally are pelagic (they swim in the open ocean, not around a reef), so this one’s 5lb-6 weight wasn’t a concern for ciguatera disease (a story for another day). I lifted the spear and trevally into the dingy and unscrewed the spear tip from the spear and slid the fish into a plastic bin in the dingy.
I fished for about another half hour and got tired because of the current and just ended up hanging off the back of the dingy to see if anything would go by.
After about 10 mins I looked to my right and a dorado was passing by – I had one shot. I got it. They’re a fair sized fish and they’re strong, so he pulled me for few seconds back and forth until— as designed—the spear and line and float disengaged from my gun. Off he went. So I swam back to the dingy and took off my fins, weight belt and mask and pulled up the anchor, and drove the dingy about 200m and chased him down because I could see the float on the surface.
I got to the float and pulled the line in to get to the spear and the fish, and just as I got to him, he got off the spear. And then I started to panic that I was going to lose the best fish I’ve ever shot.
He was kind of floundering around just under the surface, I could see him because he’s a bright yellow fish. So I got my other gun and cocked it, so I could try and shoot him from the dighy.
But by the time I got the gun cocked and moved the dingy over to where he was, I could no longer see him. Again I was panicking that I was going to lose him.
So I then put on my gear back on, and got back in the water and floated along with the dinghy looking for my beautiful fish.
I was probably 3-4 min of just looking around, and I’m thinking where the fuck is my fish. And then I see a shark way down below at the bottom (DO NOT eat my fish). Finally I saw it at the bottom, down about 65’, and the shark is circling him. Once I saw where he was, I got back into the dingy and dropped the anchor so I’d stop drifting. I was pretty tired by this point.
Then got back in the water with the second gun and because it was so deep I wasn’t sure I could swim down to it, so I swam down about 50’ and tried to shoot him again and drag him up but when I did this, the spear didn’t stick so I went back up to the surface. I decided to move the anchor directly over the fish and drop my 70’ anchor line directly down beside the fish. So, with the anchor marking it I was able to relax a bit and catch my breath. Again, the shark circled the fish.
After about 10min in the water, I got my breathing down and my heart beat back to normal. I dove down using the anchor line to help me and at 50’ I’m thinking I’m out of breath but if I am going to get my fish this is the time. So I continued on, got down there, grabbed him by the gills and then turned around and swam up to the boat. Where was the shark? I don’t know, I was only looking at the fish.
I got the fish in the boat, myself in the boat, my gear in the boat, and I’m knackered. Then I just pulled up the anchor and went back to Afrikii.
Regrets that I missed the excitement? Absolutely.
Potential regrets that something could’ve happened to Ian and I wasn’t there to help? Yep.
Was 5 hours of internet salve for my soul? Not at all.
Siri can’t help me with my existential crisis. I can’t YouTube it. I’m just gonna have to have faith that the point of living on a boat will reveal itself.