Day 8 has begun and the great news is that the wind has shifted to a favourable angle for us.. the bad news is that it is about as strong as a 90 year old emphesema sufferers breath.
So no sailing for us. Thankfully we have these motors to fall back on yet again.
In the olden days if we had encountered all these northerly winds for so many days.. we would have had to sail all the way.. moving in a zigzag pattern, climbing up towards the tropics at an extremely slow rate. And on a day like this, with no wind… youd just be bobbing about randomly until you got some wind again.
But we have these diesel ‘sails’ so we shall make use of em.
We are closer than ever to the Madagascan coast.. yet still no sign of the massive yet elusive island.
I cannot wait to meet this island that ive seen and heard so much about. This is somewhat of a boyhood dream come true for me… but as luck would have it.. i will not have nearly enough days to do a proper exploration.
20 years ago now i actually studied travel and tourism, and of course Madagascar was one of the islands we learned a lot about.
I wonder now how life would have been for me if i had pursued a career in the travel industry.
As it turned out though.. there were 60 females and only 2 males in the entire technicon… and this proved to be far too much of a distraction for a young Sean… so i didnt pass anyway.
But as they say.. you only live once an all that. No rugrats!
We now have 2 fishing rods perched in rod holders at the rear of the boat, the lines trailing back into the ocean. One of them has a multicoloured squid looking thing on it.. and the other a fish looking thing with 2 nasty hooks dangling off its belly..
We are hoping to catch something for our pan for dinner… just to change up the menu somewhat.
I dont know how fish get caught using these weirdly shaped and coloured lures.
If i were a fish and saw one of them creatures fly by id be very suspicious. These things are garish looking. Far too colourful to just pop into your mouth. Id be a smart fish and know that in nature.. colourful is often dangerous. If i couldnt find that fish species in my trusty fishermans handbook.. Id probably turn to my mate and say.. go on bruv.. i dare you to try eat that thing!
Everybody needs a canary down the mineshaft.
These psychedelic squid things look like they have just come from a colour run, or a gay pride march.
Aint no way id eat that.. and thus far.. it looks like the entire ocean is in agreement with me. Hopefully we motor past a colourblind fish and he takes a bite. Cause then i fire up the stove!
As i say this… the starboard (right hand) side reel starts squealing. Some colourblind so and so has taken a bite of the fish looking lure.. and earned himself an instant toothache in the process. We had us a fish on the line!
I instantly reduced speed on the engine to reduce the drag, and went to reel in the other line so that the fish didnt swim into it and get our 2 rods tangled up.
The skipper has heard all the commotion already and is on deck ready to reel our lunch in. Im already imagining how im gonna pan fry a nice fish fillet, skin side down first.. then a quick flip onto the other side for colour… but the fish has other ideas. He is fighting the incessant pull of the fishermans reel.. weaving to and fro trying not to wind up on our boat. By now he has been reeled to within 2 metres of the stern (rear) of our boat, and we can actually see him darting furtively this way and that. He looks up at the boat and sees me standing there with a nasty looking gaff… basically a pole with a large meathook on the end which you ram through the fishes side to pull him onto the boat.
This fish obviously knew what a gaff was… cause when he saw it, his eyes opened a little wider. He gave one last flick of his powerful fish tail, and chomped down on the steel trace line which holds our lure. Those little razor teeth of his had done the job. He had bitten through the steel line and was off for a pint. There was nothing we could do as we watched him swim away. We would now be eating sandwiches for lunch while the fish is sat in the pub telling his war story and showing off his new piercing with the fake fish jewellery.
This was the second fish we had almost landed with the very limited supply of gear available to us, but i live in hope for lucky number 3.
The food aboard this boat has been really simple.. and really good. Before we departed.. we bought a shirt load of mixed vegetables… pumpkin.. zucchini.. carrots.. patty pans etc.. and diced them up into small chunks and froze or refrigerated them… so almost everyday we have been eating large amounts of vegetables.. often just on their own, for supper.
I would usually never eat like this at home… but im enjoying it so much, i think i may be half a vegetarian by the time i get back to land.
Cooking aboard a boat is a lil different to doing so in your kitchen at home.
Naturally everything moves about a lot.. so after you have fired up the gas stove.. you clip in some extra rails on top to stop the pan or pot from sliding off and feeding your saloon floor.
Its always interesting for me.. being somewhat of a cook myself… to watch how different skippers, who have usually been involved in long distance sailing for ages, approach the food issue.
So for the first few days of any trip i like to step back and observe how they go about it. I have learned many new tricks this way, and on a boat where simple and quick is usually better… they will all come in very handy one day.
This particular skipper likes to make food that is super simple, with as little preparation as possible, and as small of a mess as possible too. So cooking is done with next to no oil at all.
This is in contrast to how i usually cook.. and seeing how healthy and simple this all is.. ill be adopting some of this cooking methodology at home as well.. but also on boats i travel on in the future.
The Madagascan welcoming committe just arrived. I watched as a bird approached from the direction of the island. When he got to the boat he did a few laps around it… then he tried to land on our steaming light half way up the mast. It took him four attemps to land on the small target as it was swivelling to and fro from the wave action. Eventually he got it right and he settled down for a wee rest before making a bee line back to the island.
This was no sea bird though. Bit of a swift looking bird but with a less pronounced, stubbier looking V in his tail.
I know he has gone off to tell the rest of Madagascar that we are coming
5 minutes later a large prehistoric pteradactyl looking bird also did a fly by before wandering off into the distance.. presumably to find something more interesting than me to look at.
I have now met my first locals… and so far, i really like them.