East African sailing trip – log 67

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November 14, 2004

Jurgen is waiting on the beach as Wolf goes to fetch him. It is 5:20am. We chat happily as we sail towards the Bedford banks trolling lines behind us. He is staying at Paje beach resort on the East Coast and chose this location for the reputation it has of being the best fishing grounds in Zanzibar. Today he hopes to spear a dog-tooth tuna – undoubtedly top on any spear-fisherman’s wish list.

 I realize that not everybody that reads this understands how spearfishing works. Spearfishing is the kind of fishing carried out with a spear-gun, or other device used to spear a fish while under the water.

The fisherman/diver, drifts along the surface, takes a breath then dives down towards the fish, aims the spear-gun, pulls the trigger, retrieves the fish and swims to the surface. (That is the theory, it is not as easy as it sounds and requires patience, skill, stamina and good lungs) Spearfishing with the aid of scuba equipment is illegal in Africa and some other countries, so is done free-diving here.

It isn’t long before we reach the Bedford bank, we drop Jurgen in 70mts of water and he drifts with the current. The conditions are perfect – a slight breeze, clean water and a swift current.
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The sea can be a dangerous and often hostile environment; it is never advisable to spearfish alone. We stick close to Jurgen so that if he shoots a fish we can get him onto the boat quickly. Blood in the water attracts sharks and this is a remote place. One should always be very careful.

After his initial drift which takes about an hour and a half, he wants to move to a shallower part of the reef, this proves fruitful because within minutes he surfaces with a good-sized “rainbow runner” followed by a “kar karp”

All in all he was able to spear quite a few fish throughout the day, which he gives to the taxi driver and the lodge where he was staying. It was wonderful having him on board. Between drifts the two brothers talk about past fishing escapades laughing and joking together.

We are elated to have fresh fish for dinner. We sit on the deck after taking Jurgen ashore, recalling the highlights and excitement of the day.

But as the sun sets and darkness creeps across the sea, feelings of sadness overwhelm us. Both Wolf and I are quiet and withdrawn. I am not sure what is doing through his mind, but mine is numb; crushed by an overpowering loneliness which leaves me contemplating the pros and cons of a sailing lifestyle. Weighing them against each other… right now, in this moment, I feel that the cons are tipping the scale.

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