Fish and learn!

Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. In a recent post I wrote about fishing for an hour and catching nothing big enough to keep for dinner. Followed by fishing for an hour and catching two fish just big enough to make one dinner for Karen and I. Keep reading for updates…

Note:  It will take me a day or two to get the video uploaded, it will have to wait until we get a better internet connection.

We finished our business in Ponce Wednesday where some packages caught up with us, and we topped off the boat with fuel. Just in case you are wondering, the last time we filled the boat’s tank was in Florida in December. In the three months since then, we have bought a total of about 83 gallons of diesel, and that includes what we picked up yesterday. The boat’s fuel tank holds about 168 gallons, so in three months we used only about a half tank of fuel.  We use fuel obviously for the main engine to move the boat when there is no wind, but also to run the generator.  For about 60 to 90 minutes every morning the generator runs to top up the batteries, and to supply the power to run the reverse osmosis unit that makes fresh water from seawater.

Here on the south coast of Puerto Rico during the day the trade winds dominate, blowing mostly from the east or northeast. If you try to fight them, you have a tough, rough, wet, and bumpy ride to get further east.  After sunset, on the other hand, the land cools down, and the sea stays warm, so you get a classic land breeze blowing from land to sea.  If you stay close to shore, you can make progress eastward on an easy reach instead of a rough and tumble beat. 

This morning we weighed anchor at about 7AM to catch the last of that land breeze and get us back to our jumping off point for further eastward travel at Isla Caja de Muerta.  Our timing was perfect, and we had an easy, comfortable sail over to the island. 

Before we dropped anchor I picked a spot to try a bit of what I thought I had learned


A very tasty red hind grouper.

about fishing here. Proving that old dogs CAN learn new tricks, in 20 minutes I had three nice sized grouper in the boat.  Enough fish for a week’s worth of dinners.  We had the first fillet baked in creole tomato sauce tonight.  Absolutely delicious. Karen liked it so much, she suggested we stay an extra day here and put more grouper in the freezer.


Green sea turtle up for air.

By 10AM we were comfortably anchored as the tradewinds built back to their normal daytime strength of 15 to 25 knots.  Karen was entertained by a number of turtles (at least 3, maybe 5 or 6) that went about their turtle business around the boat along with brown boobies, and (her favorite) frigatebirds.

Meanwhile, I invented an underwater camera


Juvenile brown booby patrols the air.

trap to see what I could bait up with the grouper carcasses. 

I tried twice with the camera trap, day and night.  I was really surprised by what showed up in the daytime video…  a pair of remoras. Fish with flat heads that attach themselves to other, much larger, fish which they follow around and scavenge food scraps from.  We have seen them before treating Harmonie as their host. I guess they have just been hanging around the boat hoping for food. 

Watching the remoras on video it is obvious that their sense of smell is better than their eyesight.  Although the come over to the area of the carcass within a few minutes, they initially poke at the camera.  Then at the lead sinker anchoring the fish carcass.  It seems they only find the real food when they blunder onto it.  After a half hour of pulling on it, they really haven’t actually eaten any significant fraction of it.

At night, I was surprised—again.  The grouper carcass attracted no attention at all.  The lights, however, did quickly attract a cloud of plankton and fish larvae.  Before long we had a small grunt who set himself up as the beneficiary of the bright lights and was picking off what he considered the tastiest bits of the plankton cloud.

At Karen’s request we stayed to catch more grouper, or at least that was the plan.  In the morning we went back to the reef where we had success yesterday, and on our second drift off into deep water I was retrieving the jig rapidly from 100 feet down when I was bit–hard–by something that immediately ran off a lot of line.  Five minutes of spirited struggle later, and I had an eight pound bigeye tuna on deck.  Not at all what I was expecting,  and a surprising catch in so close to shore, but as one of the most highly rated fish for sushi, we’ll take it!

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