There is a wide variety of gamefish available to the fisherman in Baja and Pacific Mexico. However the choice narrows when fishing from a sailboat! What to do with a 150 pound billfish? So for our use we target dorado and tuna to stock our freezer.
Trolling while making passages supplies our needs in calm to moderate weather. The shrill buzz of the line spooling off the reel is the call to action!
The ensuing tug of war lasts 15 minutes to one hour to bring the fish in to the gaff. The fun really begins when the fish is aboard and in the cockpit!
Thirty pounds of fish thrashing and bleeding under the helmsman while I attempt to quickly kill the catch. After sluicing down the cockpit with saltwater, out come the knives and board to fillet the catch. Trimming the whole fish into skinless, boneless fillet for a transfer to meal size freezer bags. Mmmmmm, time for fresh as it comes sashimi! The captain says: “Wait a minute first you need to clean up the cockpit!” An hour to clean up the area of every speck of viscera and blood. Who would guess all the drama that played out just a short time before with a thrashing fish!
So, thirty to sixty minutes to get the fish to the gaff, one hour to fillet and package (I might be slow, but I have all my fingers!), and one hour to clean the cockpit. Seems like an awful lot of work for fresh fish. Is it really worth all that? Hell yes!! Fish on…got to go!
Stowaway on Snowaway
(Also from Garrett)
It happened on a warm tropical morning in Santiago Bay by Manzanillo. Having coffee in the cockpit as the rental jet skis joyfully used our boat as a turning buoy. They screamed “Aieee Arriba!” As they pivot scant yards off our stern doing twenty knots! Who can blame them for being curious about the new gringo arriving on a sailboat in their bay?
We were there to provision in Manzanillo via dinghy, our first beach assault through the surf. The surf was small and seemed totally doable (how different it looks when actually approaching the surf zone). We went forward to unlimber the dinghy from the foredeck. After attaching the spinnaker halyard to the sling we hoisted a couple of feet off the deck to lift it over the rail. As Karen lifted the transom I noticed a curious brown coil on the deck about 24 inches from her bare feet. The coil moved-snake!!! “Step back right now”. Karen, to her credit, did instantly as I commanded (A fairly rare occurrence). As she saw the snake her comment was “What IS that thing?” As it slowly uncoiled it was quickly apparent what IT was… “Get it off the boat”.
The boat hook quickly solved the problem on the first attempt, over the side it went. That snake was an Olympic swimmer and returned to the boat time and again, looking for a way to come back aboard even trying the thruhulls. Finally it swam toward the estuary to end the episode. We were glad to see it go!
How could that snake get aboard? Up the anchor bridle? Up the transom? We surmised it went inside our dinghy and under the inflatable floor while the dinghy was on the dock in Barra de Navidad marina. The morning excitement over, we launched the dinghy for our surf assault to provision in town….But that’s another story!!