July 2, 2007
Long ferry rides between Pictou and Prince Edward Island, time in a rubber dinghy and standing on a pier anywhere in the world always make me long for home. Call it the salty sea air, the familiar rhythm of the waves, or plain ole maritime nostalgia, the longing to be close to the water is a part of me. A part, that with time and distance from home, encrusts like a barnacle to my memory.
And so it was that I happened on the Atlantic Ocean (on this side of the world!) recently; the North Atlantic’s hotter and more rollicking cousin, the South Atlantic.
(*Note: Images of beach only, courtesy N. Leseaux. The Bald Guy took the camera, hence the absence of photos of the actual ocean voyage about to be described...)
My shipmates: a crew of Ghanaian competitive deep sea fishermen, a fellow Canadian and Moses, a Ghanaian who had never been to sea before. (Note: A trip onto the ocean is as elusive to many Ghanaians as the tundra is to many Canadians.)
Good timing and a smile landed me a seat on the “Hooker” for the afternoon.
(*Note: Above photo is NOT an image of the Hooker)
The Hooker, complete with the logo of a buxom woman in silhouette sitting in the curve of a hook, is a private yacht/deep sea fishing vessel. She’s owned by three, presumably wealthy, Americans and operated by Ghanaians who compete to catch some of the world’s biggest fish in competitions around the world. The boat is fully rigged with high tech green flashing gadgets and sonar screens, bait the size of the biggest lake trout I’ve ever caught, and hooks designed for slaying fish the size of a whale.
We traveled about 30 kilometres into offshore waters, smashing through waves sometimes three times the height of the boat. Standing with legs square, holding onto the hooker’s grips as we rollicked over the waves crashing to shore, I fully embraced the ‘barnacle’ and couldn’t resist humming that Maritime classic, “Farewell to Nova Scotia.” Far off Nova Scotia was quickly forgotten between heaving a sigh and a wish and then part of my tuna sandwich over board.
We fished hard for seven hours, mostly trawling for blue marlin. Despite my preparation to land this 300 pound fish, which included a quick course in the art of stand up-sit down fishing, the mighty marlin didn’t surface. Two wa-who (phonetic spelling) did instead.
No matter. A day fishing opens the eyes, flares the nostrils and douses one with a good dose of humility and homesickness. (T)