Photos from India

Friday, July 27, 2007

Clear skies, good fishing, and great photos!

Though surrounded by other islands, there are no other lights to be seen along the entire horizon, only the outline of the palm trees and mountains against the last of the suns rays. The stars are out and there is not a cloud in the sky. Sitting on the deck of Seawanhaka, I just finished a wonderful dish of fresh Mackerel along with some kasawa, the local version of a potato here. After putting away my plate, I laid my head back and took up my favorite position, lying on deck using a propped open hatch as a backrest and looking up at the stars. After noticing that the moon was bright enough tonight to block out many of the stars we usually see here, I saw a bright glowing light with a tale that seemed to reach across the entire sky. I tried to tell everyone else to look, but the words never came to my mouth. The only sign of anyone else on deck seeing this glowing object streak across the sky was the gasp of Siv, one of the girls from Norway. This was by far the most amazing shooting star I have seen in my life. It came from right to left streaking across the sky, brighter than Venus and with a tail that stretched halfway across my entire field of view. I can only guess that it must have lasted six or seven seconds!
Today, we set sail from an enormous lagoon, complete with islands as far as you could see and clear shallow water surrounding each of them. Most of the islands around seemed to have lots of mangroves so we didn’t do much swimming there for fear of crocodiles out hunting nearby. After departing from the lagoon late in the morning, we caught our first fish of the day. This time, Bill grabbed the rod and started reeling it in. We could tell it was pretty big and it was fighting differently from most of the fish we had caught so far. Surely we were catching something different. As the fish was pulled closer to the boat, I was ready with gaff in hand to pull him out of the water. I noticed what I thought was a yellow tail and decided that we were just catching another yellow fin tuna. As he came closer to the surface, I realized that the color I was seeing wasn’t a yellow tail, but the lure had hooked the fish along his back near his tail! Bill brought him to the surface and with one swift plunge, I drove the gaff through his head and tossed the fish into the cockpit. I can’t imagine we could be any luckier! This fish was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was just swimming along when our lures must have passed too close to him and caught him in the back. Either way, he was the biggest Spanish Mackerel I have ever seen and would be our dinner for the next couple of nights!
The winds were pretty light today so after we caught the fish and realized we weren’t making too much progress toward our destination, we decided to fly the spinnaker for a while. It is such a beautiful sail to have up. Thin and blue, the suns light passes right through it, still leaving a nice shadowy retreat on the bow of the boat. I had been waiting for a good clear day to get some good photos of the spinnaker flying. After taking a few from on deck, I decided I would take my camera up the rat lines into the rigging to get some shots from up high. While contemplating what would make a good photo, everyone below started shouting about a turtle that had popped up on our port side. I looked down to see one of the largest turtles I have ever seen. He swam alongside the boat for a bit and as I watched him begin his descent, I saw a pair of mahi mahi, come from under the boat heading out to sea. I cried out for everyone to look at the two dolphins, but no one seemed to see them. I then realized that most people call them a mahi mahi or a dorado where we in the states we also know them as dolphin. Not the flipper kind, the beautifully colored, flat headed fish with a long dorsal fin. As I watched the two fish swim by, they took a sudden change of direction and I yelled “they’re going for the lures!” At this point no one else had seen them. As we all watched the rods, me still up in the air, we weren’t sure if we were going to get a bite. Then one of the rods let out a long zipping sound and the chaos began. With my camera, I scrambled down the ratlines while Bill and Michal began dropping the Spinnaker. Someone else was dropping the main staysail and we were struggling with sheeting in the main as we had rigged a preventer to keep it from rolling around in the light winds. This was the most difficult time you could ever imagine on board Seawanhaka to stop the boat. I grabbed the rod and the fun began! After seeing the fish dance on the water and still waiting on the other one to bite our second rod, I began working him in. It wasn’t too much of a fight but seeing him leap in the air several times and dance across the water on his tail was amazing! The other one did not bite so Katrina pulled in the other line to avoid it getting snagged on my line. Pulling the fish to the edge of the boat, the wonderful greens and blues of the fish were almost glowing in the water. Bill drove the gaff in and tossed him into the cockpit. Another successful fish brought on board for the day! We aren’t going to starve, at least not for a couple of more days!
After all that fishing, I didn’t think that you could have anything else to make it a better day here in the islands. As we began dropping the sails and slowly motoring toward our anchorage, we all noticed an enormous fish nearby leap out of the water. On it’s second jump, we noticed it was a Marlin leaping. Three enormous leaps later, we realized that this fish must have been over ten feet long! What a performance from an amazing creature! The excitement ended and we pulled into our west facing anchorage to reveal crystal clear water and an enormous coral reef. Combine that with an amazing little coastline of palm trees, sandy beaches, tropical flowers and driftwood and you can’t find a better place to spend the night. I spent the remaining hours of good daylight exploring the shore, taking about two rolls of film worth of photos that I hope turn out to be some of the best one’s of the entire trip. Every day here reveals something more amazing than the last and I still have three months to go on this leg of my journey!

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