A week of fishing

Friday 23rd Jan 09

Up at 4.00, straight to the beach, no breakfast just a glass of water and a handful of crackers.

Get the gear ready and boat sorted.

The wind was low, too low. Hardly any boats had put to sea, those that had, found getting through the breakwaters difficult. We waited, hoping the wind would pick up.

At 5.30 Neu decided to take the sail off the boat and row us out to sea. The waves breaking on the shore were huge but once through those, the sea was pretty much flat.

The huge oar has a socket that fits over an upright on the back of the boat.  Standing at the back of the boat holding the oar in both hands,  Neu uses all his upper body to rotate the oar in a figure of eight movement, through the water, it’s exhausting work. Dolla stood (and later sat) to one side in the middle of the boat and used a smaller oar in a more conventional manner. There is no oar for me, so I sat there like Lady Muck while they did all the work.

When Neu was confident we had reached a good spot, we dropped anchor and with each of us using a double hooked line with prawns for bait, we fished.

Almost immediately we started to catch, mostly small fish but a few good sized ones. The fish we were catching are not generally sold, these were just to put food on our table.

When the catch rate slowed, we would move to another spot and start again. Ironically another friend who had rowed out to meet us, was hardly catching anything, it became a bit of a joke, he was right beside us, we were pulling the fish out but his line remained un touched.

Neu (far right)on his friends boat, Neu's presence didn't improve his friends catch rate

Neu (far right)on his friends boat, Neu’s presence didn’t improve his friends catch rate

Some of our catch

Some of our catch

Back at the beach, Neu gave away the surplus fish to the friends who helped move the boat  back up the beach, they in turn will help us out with fish or fruit or some thing else when they can.

Home by eleven.

Saturday

A storm blew up in the night, by morning the wind was still too strong to fish.

Monday

Out at 6, still very windy, waited until 7. Put to sea only because a documentary film maker friend was hoping to film us fishing. She was on one of the catamarans, they got hit by a huge wave and her camera was soaked, she had to return to the beach. Neu said it was useless to fish today, the water was too churned up, back home early.

Tuesday 

Neu heard two cumuripims (tarpon) were caught yesterday. We will try today.

Up at 4. Very little wind. Slow going to fishing ground. As there was so little wind, the sun was blistering, with no fish in sight Neu called it a day at 10

Wednesday

Tremendous storm in night. Neu’s brother Kito, Dolla and Cede,  out overnight on our other boat. Worried for their safety. Neu down to beach to wait for their return and do maintenance work on other boat. .

Thankfully they returned safely, and with no damage to the boat or our nets. Other boats had huge holes ripped in the nets by force of the sea, or lost their nets completely.

A few fish caught. By the time the crew paid, and the food paid for, Neu made $R10.

Thursday

Neu went off at 4.

Returned at mid day, no catch.

Friday

We out for cumuripim again. Left house at 4.

Getting off the beach was very difficult, Neu had to stay in the water until chest height in order to steer us through the waves. Nonna (other crew member) and I equally soaked by waves crashing over deck, all shivering with cold. Just off shore the wind dropped, not a breath of wind. Painfully slowly we headed out, every now and then we would pick up a tremendous wind, making Nonna and I scramble to the side of the boat to keep it balanced, then just as soon as it came, the wind would drop, becalmed again.

Out where Neu hoped would be good, we dropped anchor, took down the sail and baited all the lines. Neu used a lighter line to check the bottom conditions, looking for seaweed, it came up clear.

We waited.

Nothing.

Nonna pulled up his line to check his bait and found a mass of seaweed. In came all the lines and we sailed to another spot.

Lines back in, we waited. I was also fishing with a lighter line and caught a few small fish. Suddenly overcome with seasickness. (I don’t like that this has all of a sudden started happening to me). Neu asked if I wanted to go back, but I thought I would be fine if I just slept for a bit. Neu cleared a space on the deck and put the oar down for me to lie on. I slept.

Roused by the shouts from the crew of a passing jangada. From a distance they thought my sleeping form was a cumuripim. Laughs all round, I feeling better.

The sun was overwhelming, Neu decided to call it a day.

We had just got the sail up when Neu spotted two dolphins, one a baby about a metre long, roughly six feet from the boat. We whistled and clapped and more dolphins appeared, lazily breaking the surface water, totally relaxed but unfortunately not very interested in us.

Neu set sail after the dolphins, we followed them for a bit and were treated to one coming up out of the water right on its tail. I was so thrilled to see them, had I been feeling better and had they not had a baby with them, I would have been in the water too. Just as suddenly as they had arrived, they disappeared.

We headed back to land. With no wind the going was dreadfully slow, the shore never apparently any closer.

Got home at mid day. No fish but seeing the dolphins was just fantastic.

Saturday

Neu needed to re do the mast housing and repair the uprights on the back of the boat that have come lose.

His brother was out overnight on our other boat, so Neu was down to the beach waiting for their return. No wind again, they will have a long, slow journey back, though hopefully with some fish.

©Claire Pattison Valente 2009

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