Position: N26 22.299 W076 59.825
We leave Governors Harbour, Eleuthera on April 26 and sail a long day to Royal Island (N25 30.952 W076 50.525). This is a great spot to stop off on the way up to the Abacos. The anchorage provides nearly all-round protection and there’s room for several boats. We spend a day there waiting for the winds to die down a little and change from northerly to easterly, then head out to cross 50 miles of ocean between Royal Island and Great Abaco Island.
The seas are pretty rolly with 7-8 ft swells. It’s blowing around 20 knots, but it’s aft of beam (for you non sailors this means “from the side and just a little behind and about as good as it gets”) and we’re having a bumpy but good passage. It’s not too comfortable, but we’re making good time. Mark has his trolling line out, yet again trying to catch us some fresh fish. We sail and troll all day with nothing caught except seaweed.
About 2 miles from the cut to get into Little Harbour, Abacos Mark says “I’m gonna pull in the fishing line now so it doesn’t get in the way when we start handling the sails for the turn into the cut.”
He starts to pull it in. “Hey! I think I’ve got a fish on!”
He pulls it in further and sees the fish. “Hot damn! Get my gloves and the gaff! This thing is BIG!”
Julie puts the boat on auto pilot and leaps below to get the gaff, gloves and the cheap vodka. “Oh and don’t forget the camera!” The fish is absolutely beautiful, all blues and greens and yellows flashing in the sunlight. And it is BIG!
Mark gaffs it and wrestles it aboard the boat. We are right in the middle of changing the sails to negotiate the cut so we pour a little vodka in its gills to kill it and leave it on the side deck until we drop the anchor. Looking at it lying on the side deck as we enter the cut, Julie says “It’s BIG!”
It’s a dolphin, a.k.a mahi mahi. We drop the anchor, get settled, and Mark gets out the tape measure. We have no idea how much it weighs. By now the colours have faded but Julie’s right – it is BIG. 44 inches long, as a matter of fact!
Neither of us really know what to do with it since this is our first fish caught on Rachel. Julie runs down below and gets the chopping board, knife, knife sharpener, and the fishing book. It has great instructions on how to fillet a fish. So we lay the fish on the cutting board on the foredeck. It’s more than twice the size of the cutting board. It is BIG.
Mark’s on his knees on the foredeck, knife in hand. Julie’s sitting on the deck with the book reading the instructions on how to fillet out loud. This is followed by a bit of discussion as to the interpretation of the instructions. But, somehow, within 30 minutes Mark manages to have that sucker all gutted, skinned, and filleted and ready to go. We take it down below and wash the fillets, cut them into nice sized steaks and bag and freeze most of it. Then we clean up the mess on the deck. That’s BIG, too.
We had planned on a simple dinner after our long passage but what can you do? It’s our first catch and it’s about as fresh as we’re ever likely to get it, so we make the effort.
If you’ve never had a candle lit dinner consisting of really, really fresh blackened mahi mahi, Arabian squash casserole, and tossed salad, with a lovely bottle of wine in the cockpit of a sailboat in paradise as the sun sets over the ocean, our hearts go out to you.
All the while we’re eating it, though, we’re remembering how stunningly beautiful the fish was when it was still alive in the water. It sure tastes good, though ……
Sad but sated