(Part of my Gone Fishing story)
Thursday, 7 August 1997
Day 20 at Sea
1500 Hours SAMOAN TIME (Pacific Time minus four hours)
Day number two of renewed good weather, which has brought with it the heat and humidity that I was first introduced to in Samoa. The fish are also back! We made three sets, two being successful, and brought in about 150 tons. Finally!!!
Today we have seen some fish, but have yet to make a set, despite having prepared to do so twice already. The helicopter just departed, and I hope good things are in store for us.
We are in an area that seems to be full of logs- most of which have had good signs; birds, bait and jumpers.
Yesterday was a long day for the crew. First set was at 0430 hours on a really nice, long uprooted tree that we found bobbing up and down just like it belonged there, barnacles and all.
The last set was completed at 2100 hours. A nice short 16 1/2 hour day. I donned a hardhat and gloves to expedite the movement of fish through the hopper. It turned out to be a futile exercise as I spent most of the time dodging the brailer and the other guys, only occasionally throwing fish around.
Of course, a nice torrential downpour coincided with these activities, so I was very wet by the time I was done tripping over sharks (fourteen in that set alone). That was the second downpour of the day; the only grayness in an otherwise beautiful day.
It is amazing how fast rain comes and goes here. A couple of days ago I was washing the helicopter with my back to the bow. Ele was in the crow’s nest and he whistled to get my attention, while pointed forward. Before I had a chance to turn around, the first raindrop was on my bareback. We had entered a wall of hard, pelting rain.
A Coast Guard C-130 buzzed the boat yesterday afternoon. This in and of itself is not that unusual, until you realize that we were something like 1500 miles from Hawaii. Unless the Coast Guard has a station on one of the islands in the South Pacific, this airplane was a long way from home.
We were in US waters at the time. Somewhere within 200 nautical miles from the boat were two islands: Baker Island and Howland Island – nothing more than sandy spots in the middle of a great expanse of blue. Apparently they were occupied by the US during World War II, but are now very much deserted. But they are US property. Therefore they are surrounded by US waters, and apparently patrolled by the US Coast Guard.