(Part of my Gone Fishing story)
Saturday, 30 August 1997
Day 43 at Sea
1845 hours SAMOAN TIME (Pacific Time minus four hours)
Location: 0°1’N 156°55’W
WHAT’S THAT NOISE I HEAR? I believe that is the fat lady warming up her vocal cords. Yes, it must be! She’s getting ready to sing.
Today coulda been the end of it all – so close indeed! We set on a monster of a school around 0930 hours – a mixture of skipjack and yellow fin. Even while the net was still out – pursed, but not starting to stack – the whole area was either breezing, shining, or jumping [indication that there are fish in them there waters]. Very impressive!
From the flight deck, you could see the fish cruise by. First skipjack in one big cloud of fish, then tuna, then more skipjack. More than enough fish to fill the remaining wells. As the net was about 3/4 in, it started to do the sink the cork thing. This is both good and bad.
Good in that it means that there is a whole lotta fish in the net causing the corks to sink under the tremendous tonnage.
Bad in that the fish escape. First, tuna go – they are at the surface while the skipjack stay deep – and then some skipjack departed. This was OK – still enough fish. Then the old net on the Auro started to rip. More fish escaped. Starting to worry.
Rip finally out of the water, but the net to heavy for the power block (used to haul the net out of the water) and no more net would come out of the water.
Finally everything is sorted out and we haul in about 220 tons. The whole process from setting to quick-fixing the net (patching the rip), took eight long, strenuous (unless you are the helicopter mechanic) hours.
We are ready to make another set just as the sun is falling, but the boilers that were present all day have called it a night.
We only need in the neighborhood of 20 tons…