A Christmas Meal with Grilled Fish at Sea

Before my trip, a friend gave me a book ‘Sailing a Serious Ocean’ (Author: John Kretschmer). By reading it and other books, I learned it takes a lot to sail cross an ocean. I am relatively new here but in my mind, I was ready for sailing blue water. Last summer, we spent five months for boat maintenance and enhancement projects. By putting lots of effort into the boat, John trusts his boat even more. I trusted his sailing and survival skills. I decided to be fearless.

New Light Sail (Code Zero) on the Left. My kayak and John's Home Built Dinghy on the center. While sailing, I went to the top of the mast for an issue.

New Light Sail (Code Zero) on the Left. My kayak and John’s Home Built Dinghy in the center. While sailing, I went to the top of the mast for an issue and took this picture.

Yellow Dots - Our friend 'Charlie' plotted daily positions (yellow dots) using Google Earth.

Yellow Dots – Our friend ‘Charlie’ plotted daily positions (yellow dots) using Google Earth.

We set sail with light wind heading East. At the beginning it was as if the boat was gliding with two wings. Smooth sailing, my type of enjoyment. Soon after, wind got too weak to go our destination, in the middle of the Gulf Stream. The current in the Gulf Stream pushed us to the North East direction instead of going East where we have to go. We don’t like to motor the boat but we had to this time. When we left Florida, we filled the boat full with diesel fuel and also carried five additional fuel containers. (Total 125 Gallons). Motoring takes one gallon per an hour. We have 14 days to go.
Dolphin Fish, we had for Christmas Meal! I couldn't hold this fish longer to take another pictures.

Dolphin Fish, we had for Christmas Meal! I couldn’t hold this fish longer to take another pictures.

Once we got out of the Gulf Stream, we stopped motoring and started sailing again. Unexpectedly, the wind stopped. The ocean was like a huge lake, a flat calm mirror. It was getting dark and we were far from everything. We had not seen any boats for a couple of days. We are just like a dot between the ocean and sky. We decided to catch some sleep so we parked the boat for a night and let it go wherever it wanted by the current. The depth of the ocean was about 16,000 feet (5,000 meter) where we parked. I kept thinking ‘Wow, this is way over more adventurous than I thought. What could it happen if boat leaks, if John gets overboard, if we run out of fuel, and etc. many other if’s…”
Food for Sharks - Leftovers from Christmas Meal

Food for Sharks – Leftovers from Christmas Meal

Actually, we had a water problem on the boat. Luckily, it was a minor. We periodically saw water on the floor below the water line but couldn’t identify the cause. One day, when it was so windy while tacking, we had more water on the floor. It freaked us out. While sailing in 20 knots of wind and pounding seas, we removed everything from one location to another to find the source of the water. We ripped the insulation from the hull in each compartment one by one. If there is a crack on the boat, that would be a way to find it. Knowing a source of the problem, we could fix, not knowing it, it is a bigger problem. Finally, it took a half day to identify the problem and fix it. The problem was a broken part from the generator. It had a crack and brought water on the floor engine room. When boat was leaning one side heavily, the water stayed at higher layer of one side. When we tack the boat, the water spilled to lower side and brought it to wood floor in the bathroom. Thankfully, that was it!
Lucky Fish - We sent back to the ocean. No more storage room in the freezer to keep this fish. Dolphin Fish is beautiful in the ocean. Once it's dead, the color changes.

Lucky Fish – We sent back to the ocean. No more storage room in the freezer to keep this fish. Dolphin Fish is beautiful in the ocean. Once it’s dead, the color changes.

For weather forecast, I connected to HAM stations at night. There were two stations that I had good luck with. (Call Signs: KQ4ET in Virginia Beach, USA and VE1YZ in Nova Scotia, Canada) Through their stations, I sent emails for weather forecast requests and received computer simulated wind speed/direction forecasts in return. I also sent ‘Daily Position Reports’ to my sister and a few friends. Being an amateur ham, it cost nothing for us. The transmission speed was between 200 bytes to 3,000 bytes per minute depending on the time of the day and station. The weather forecast file was about 10KB. To download it, it takes between 5 minutes to 30 minutes. I am limited to 30 minute use per day. My appreciations to all HAM radio enthusiasts for their hard work in setting up this great service.
Flying Fish and its Wings

Flying Fish and its Wings

At sea, my day starts at midnight. John and I take a turns to watch the boat. Today, when we changed a shift, John showed me a flying fish on the floor. It flew in the wrong direction from the ocean and landed on the deck. One of John’s cats, ‘Swat’ brought the fish inside the boat. Swat is still kitten so she has endless energy. She hardly rests and looks for any chance to play. The fish was dead when it was found. Its big scales were on the deck and floor. No major mess. Its wings were very interesting. I heard they are good to eat. For real protein breakfast, some boaters turn the deck light on while sailing at night. The light attracts them. Fried flying fish! I would have them for breakfast but right now, I have had enough fish for a while. On Christmas day, we caught a good size Dolphin, about 35 inches = 83 centimeters (measuring from fork of the tail to the nose of the fish) while we still have leftovers fish from the day before. Our Christmas meal was blackened grilled fish. Then, after, we have been eating lemon pepper grilled fish, fried fish, fish dip, and fish salad. Today, I am thinking about grilling it with Asian Soy Sauce and Wasabi.

Catching fish is one thing but cleaning is another. To catch big fish, it takes two people. One has to reel in and the other needs to bring it on board using a gaff. Because reeling needs strength, I took the second task but I kept missing. When we finally got it on the deck, we poured little rubbing alcohol in its mouth to stop it jumping. (Peaceful ending for fish) While boat is moving, fish gets filleted and cleaned with blue water, then, with fresh water. Same cleaning method goes to the deck. How clean the blue water is (so beautifully BLUE), we need to rinse the deck with fresh water to keep fishy smell out on the boat. Going through this process, I demanded ‘No more fishing’ for a while, please…

Wind got stronger getting closer to our destination. About two more days to reach Saint Martin. Speed scares me. I prefer comfort speed. It is not for John. He wanted strong wind and he got it. Boat was covered with dried salt. Walking on the boat, my feet get covered with salt. Things squeak. Waves kept hitting us making a banging sound. Cats were laying down slowly sliding from one to the other side. A half-moon brightened the ocean until midnight. Again, it’s dark! Not quietly this time. I can see a gleam of lights, about 30 miles away. Looking at the GPS, yes… that’s it. Anguilla, the island next to Saint Martin! We will be in mother’s arms soon, the place that is so full of comfort and long lasting. Mom used to tell me ‘I was fearless when I was a child.’ Am I still?


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