Of Birds and Fishes

May 9, 2019

Day 215

Noon Position: 19 18N  53 16W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): WxS 3.5

Wind(t/tws): E 6.5

Sea(t/ft): E 3

Sky: Mostly clear. Some mares tales in the morning; now gone.

10ths Cloud Cover: 0

Bar(mb): 1018

Cabin Temp(f): 88

Water Temp(f): 80 (interesting that temp is rising)

Relative Humidity(%): 59

Sail: Twin headsails

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 115

Miles since departure: 29,208

Avg. Miles/Day: 135

Leg North Miles: 6,280

Leg North Days: 50

Avg. Miles/Day: 126

Slow but steady. What there is of wind is dead aft and in it we roll along at 3 knots on a small sea; the sun is hot, but not too hot; the water is refreshingly cool, and the neighborhood is quiet. Perfectly satisfying.

Yesterday, I took down the spinnaker before dark in favor of the twins for night running. I’ve flown the spinnaker at night before, but it means being on guard. We’re not racing, so why not go with an easier rig at little cost to speed.

I should have reset the spinnaker this morning but have been lazy, and there have been other entertainments.

The solo Skua returned shortly after noon.

This is a sad, empty stretch of sea for a Skua, a marauder by profession. Imagine a highway robber who stakes out an unused road or a grifter who unwittingly moves to the country. Just so, there is no way for a Skua to go about his business without the society of other birds, and that society is distinctly absent. One storm petrel. Two terns. That’s today’s count, beyond the Skua.

In the south, he was a terror to the Prions and the White Chinned Petrels. We’d encounter one every week or so, a big, thick, thug of a bird, recognizable from afar because he flaps hard and flies heavy. Absolutely no grace. Not the least interest in gliding. And he’s always chasing, for whatever others take from the sea is his to take in turn.

The Prions were more agile and their prey too small to be of enduring attraction to the Skua, but the White Chinned Petrels had a difficult time of it. As fast as they were, they could not outrun the Skua, and if the Skua made contact, he could do damage. The only defense: drop down to the water and stop hunting until the Skua chooses another victim.

Yesterday’s Samaritan cracker was of no interest. Neither was an almond lobbed in charity and kindness today. But when I began tossing raviolis from cans too rusty for my own consumption, I struck pay dirt. There’s something in the size and the softness of a Chef Boyardee beef ravioli that seems like seafood.

By mid afternoon, my solo Skua had a friend. Two Skuas trailed Mo for hours and between them ate four cans of raviolis.

We’ll see how much they thank me in the morning.

Two lures drug from Mo’s quarters today. They spent most of their time being retrieved, cleared of weed and re-deployed, but at about 3pm, there were a few splashes in the vicinity, and then the port lure line snapped taut. A small Dorado had hooked on. The water is of such clarity here that I could see the hooked animal and his mates swimming alongside before I began hauling in. In the blue water, the Dorado is eggshell blue, electric blue, yellow and silver and has about him a kind of shimmering sleekness.

I got him alongside and was lifting him aboard when he somehow flipped the hook. What a disappointment–a perfect dinner fish. But I gave him opportunity when I futzed too long with the camera and the gaff.

To my mind, the Dorado is one of the most beautiful of fishes; he’s what Monet would paint if Monet could get his mind off waterlilies.

4 Comments on “Of Birds and Fishes

  1. Oh Gosh, Randall! You make me laugh so hard! Dear ole Monet and his waterlilies!!! And feeding rusty raviolis to those poor Skuas! Well if they get upsets tummies hope they don’t land aboard while rejecting them on you deck!!!

  2. Pam you took the words right out of my mouth!
    Pure gold: “But when I began tossing raviolis from cans too rusty for my own consumption, I struck pay dirt. There’s something in the size and the softness of a Chef Boyardee beef ravioli that seems like seafood.”

  3. Chef boy-r-dee ravioli or fresh dorado! I know which one I would pick. Yet once again the culinary friends you have in SF would have a fit of your choice of a gourmet meal at sea.

  4. You’re not kidding.
    Dorados are amazing.
    I never knew how skuas fly until your post.
    Golly am I glad you’re having fun.
    That’s mostly what it’s about.

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