Day 74 - Block Island, Rhode Island
20:58 hrs - August 13th, 2007
Gritty fisherman

I understand you have to be a fairly gritty human being to be a fisherman, and being waterproof is definitely an advantage, but tenacious, determined, patient, skilled and fearless with large hooks (and intricate lures with multi hooks) and not at all squeamish helps.  I have to say that while I rather admire these qualities, before setting off on this voyage of ours, I haven’t had much call for them.  But I believe after today, I can consider myself well on the way to being a gritty fisherman along with the best of them.  Our fishing expedition began with what can only be described as a hair-raising, teeth rattling 25 miles-an-hour bumpy roller coaster, against the current boat ride, out to the ‘perfect fishing spot’ on Jakes inflatable, his son Ben who Jake proudly described as ‘Velcro footed’ due to his ability to stick firmly to the deck in any conditions, came along to see what we were made of. On our 4 man fishing expedition the ‘fish versus us’ score was 13 fish hooked and 7 fish in the boat. I got points for being the only one to hook 2 blue fish on one line, AND hooking the first stripped bass, and Neville got the point for the biggest fish, a 3 foot blue fish that we had to let go as there was no more room in the boat.  When we returned triumphant from our day on the high seas we regaled Jakes wife with great sea stories and tales of the fish that got away (it was naturally the biggest one) I’m sure she had heard it all a thousand times before but she cheered obligingly offered warm showers and went below to prepare another fabulous fish dinner.

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Day 67 - Block Island, Rhode Island
20:20 hrs - August 6th, 2007
Up the mast

“OK I’ll pull and you sit, or you pull and I’ll sit?” these were the choices, “but either way one of us has to go up there!”  One of the lines ‘up there’ had come undone and ‘someone’ had to go up the mast, feed it back through its block and back down again. Now this is where having only two people on a boat, on a windy day, can quickly demonstrate what the two people are actually made of, particularly the one who hasn’t gone up the mast before!  And before I go any further, let me tell you that the whole “I’ll pull, and you sit, or you pull and I’ll sit” by way of offering me an choice, was merely Neville being polite if a little redundant, as the fact is Neville is 215lbs and I am 120lbs, and Neville used to be a weight lifter and my preferred form of exercise is reading a good book, so the choice (although I did spend a few moments pondering that it was all entirely possible for me to hoist Neville up there) was that I was to be the designated driver i.e. I was to go ‘up there’.   So, with my fate firmly sealed, I had nothing to do but wait and think terrifying thoughts of failing lines and falls from great heights etc. while Neville prepared the bosun’s chair which is basically a canvas chair/sling with a line attached to hoist a person to the top of the mast.  Well I have to tell you, it was so great! Exciting and unnerving at the same time.  A whole new perspective like going to the top of a Double-Decker bus for the first time, and seeing how much further you can see, and how interesting things can look from a different angle. So, long story short, much fun was had by yours truly, AND I successfully completed the job I was sent up to do …… and I didn’t fall crashingly to the deck! (thanks to Nevilles expert and careful hoisting).  So, as you can tell, I lived to tell the tale and it was so much fun I am looking forward to doing it again soon. However I am assured that it’s not all that much fun hoisting 120lbs up a mast?, so I’ll have to wait for an actual mast ‘event’ to qualify for another ride.

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Day 66 - Block Island, Rhode Island
19:20 hrs - August 5th, 2007
Fish on!

"Wind it in Lucy, wind it in!!!!!" Jake bellowed at me from his perch on the back of the inflatable dingy. Rolling around in the little 10' boat, two miles from shore in the choppy Block Island Sound, trying to reel in what I was certain to be Moby Dick, or a big relative, I was exhausted, bruised, a little wet, but very, very happy.

It all started friday night when Avalanche, a beautiful 60' custom-built sloop, dropped anchor in "our front yard" in an extremely crowded Block Island anchoring field. We struck-up a conversation with the owners, Jake and Marnie, who have spent the last nine years cruising back-and-forth between Rhode Island and Antigua. They invited us onboard for cocktails Saturday night and provided us with a wealth of useful information; From how to get the latest weather facts, boosting a WiFi signal, what dishwashing liquid lathers best in saltwater (Joy), the best anchorages in St Barthelemy, to catching lobsters with a homemade hook. What marvelous, interesting, genuine and happy people!

Jake invited us to go fishing Sunday morning. Catherine decided she likes eating fish more than she does catching them so Jake and I sped-off at 09:30 out to sea. Five hours later we came back with supper. We caught five Striped Bass but only kept one (keepers must be a minimum of 28" in length). The two I reeled in together on one line both seemed big enough to me, but Jake carefully, almost lovingly removed the hook from both Stripers, measured them, and with extreme care, let the smaller one go - it was 1" too small.

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After fishing, Catherine joined us to check Jake's Lobster pots - residents of Rhode Island can request a license to trap lobster for only $40 a year. Jake had dropped four pots outside the harbor and wanted to check them before heading back home to Jamestown. As he hauled in each pot over the side of the inflatable, Catherine and I were amazed to find he had caught three - we kept two. The third lobster was an "egger" (a female carrying eggs) so again Jake carefully gave it back to the ocean.

Jake and Marnie will return to Block Island next weekend. If we're still here, Jake promised us a lobster - however only from the pot that now holds my Striper's head! If we want others, "no problem" Jake said, "you can have them for free! You just have to get the fuel, find the bait, load the pots and clean the dingy." An offer that few people seem to take him up on he said with a grin.

Dream Time: Finished aft water tank Saturday 4th, switched over to forward tank. Now we're cruising, I have decided that every Monday I will check the raw water sea strainer to the engine, the engine coolant, oil, fan belt etc.