On the morning after departing Reao, Sabby setup the fishing lines. Our limited supply of fresh produce from Gambier was dwindling, so we needed some seafood.
At 1600hrs the line went zinging. “Fish On!” I cried, and Sabrina jumped on deck to reel it in.
“It’s big, whatever it is,” yelled Sabrina. “Put the fighting belt on yourself!” she suggested, and I took over the fight. The fish was running away, unspooling line at a fast rate, heating up the reel. I slowly increased the drag tension, and yanked on it a few times to persuade it to shift direction, which it eventually did. My forearms burned as I yarded back on it, cranking the reel as quickly as I could, slowly bringing it closer.
With the commotion, Spencer awakened from a nap and took over the helm. We were sailing at 5-6knots.
“Try to point into the wind and slow down,” I requested, as the fish’s pull was tremendous. It was hard work for the fisherman, but obviously much harder on the fish, which arrived exhausted next to our hull.
Sabrina dunked the net in the water to scoop up the fish.
“I can’t get under his tail, he’s too big!” exclaimed Sabrina.
It was a majestic blue fin tuna. High on hunter-gatherer adrenalin, I yanked up on the leader line, settling the fish into the net, and together we secured it on deck.
We remembered the prayer taught by our friend Four Arrows in Mexico. “Mitakuyasin, respect to all our relations” we told the tuna. It is the Lakota tradition’s way to say thanks to our fish brothers and sisters who give up their lives so we may eat well.
I’ll never forget the color of this fish. Its smooth skin glowed iridescent blue-purple like the Mother-of-Pearl shell, glinting in the sunlight. This color slowly faded, but I was transfixed by its captivating sheen and hue for a long time. We prepared it on the back deck, unveiling its deep red fillets. The fish was only 25lbs, and it isn’t particularly long, but an exceptional amount of its body is pure, tender meat. We immediately set about clearing the fridge; we filled the entire middle shelf (two containers 10×6 inch) with high quality fillets.
The next two days were a sushi extravaganza. I can vouch it was the best sushi I’d ever eaten: with avocado, eel sauce, brown rice. Then, in the next batch of meals, seared tuna over rice was featured. After a few days, we transitioned to preparing it as marinated tuna with crusted nuts and vegetables. Soon, I suspect, we’ll have the delightful fish burgers; and still there is more to share once we are in Marquesas.
The fishing poles got rinsed with fresh water and were stored. We won’t be needing them for awhile, thanks to one beautiful, girthy Bluefin Tuna.