Lat: 16 28.742′ S
Lon: 4 50.770′ W

After 10 days at sea, we’re finally approaching our destination; by sunrise tomorrow St. Helena should be in sight. Light winds have remained the norm, although the daily cycle has changed a bit. We’re now getting cloudy skies and stronger winds in the mornings, and this morning we actually had a bit of rain when we sailed near the edge of one of the four or so localized rain showers that we could see around us. The settled weather has been great for laying in the sun and having a pleasant passage in general, but it’s not the best for trying to make Recife, Brazil by Carnival. We’ averaged just a little over 5 knots, which must be one of our slower long-distance ocean passages, and the news from those ahead us of is that we should expect more light winds.

We did get a welcome interruption today when Lauren checked the fishing lines and found we’d hooked something. As I pulled the fish near the transom, we could see it was a beautiful male Mahi-Mahi (also known as Dorado or dolphin), and was much larger than the one we’d caught earlier in the passage. The fish we’ve caught in the past (tuna, wahoo, barracuda) have all been pretty tired by the time they reached the transom and it’s been pretty easy to gaff them and haul them into the cockpit for their last rites. Although the Mahi Mahi have been smaller, they’ve also been much more lively. We’d lost the last one when it shook the hook while thrashing about as I was holding it in the air and trying to gaff it or at least let it calm down a bit. This one was just as lively, so this time I though I’d leave it in the water until it either drowned or tired a bit. Unfortunately, the result was the same. After only a minute or two it shook the hook as well and we saw our beautiful catch swimming away.

mahi1 The one that got away

We were pretty bummed (especially since it was lunchtime and Lauren had just been wondering what to make), but tossed the line back in and within 5 minutes we had another fish on! This one was a smaller female Mahi Mahi and I resolved not to make the same mistake twice. I immediately went for the gaff and eventually got a good spot right behind the head before it could thrash itself loose. With the gaff securely set it was only a matter of time before Mrs. Mahi Mahi was turned into a cajun-spiced lunch with leftovers for dinner. Our process is generally for me to bring the fish on board, kill it by cutting the spine, remove the head, and then hand it over to Lauren to do the rest. This time, when the head came off I had a bit of a surprise — I’d actually severed 4 heads at once. The Mahi Mahi was so full of small silver fish that three were still in her throat and in face were at the point of having their heads sticking into her mouth. Apparently even with a stuffed belly and a throat jammed with fish as well, our red squid skirt lure looked too good to her to pass up. Tracey did a nice job of her first cleaning as well. The other boat we’ve talked fishing with on the radio has had the same story in the Atlantic so far — wily Mahi Mahi and big lure-stealers.

mahi3 The one that didn’t

If two fish in 5 minutes wasn’t rare enough, we’ve also seen another sailboat. It’s only the second time on our trip that we’ve seen another yacht at sea out of sight of land. Our brief chat on the radio confirmed that they’re also headed to St. Helena, are French-flagged, and have four on board, so we’re looking forward to saying hello tomorrow.

Doesn’t seem like much, but big news out here: we caught a fish and saw a boat. Wow. Our tans are also coming along nicely.