Big Jamaica Fishing Trip – 19 hour edition

My father and I boarded the 125 foot Big Jamaica fishing vessel around 11:30PM.  As we crossed the threshold, the captain handed us our passes to bunks within the cabin.  It was going to be a long ride that night and a little shut eye would be crucial.  I set my gear down under a table, passed through a door with a porthole, and descended down a stairwell into a dim room containing a couple dozen bunk beds. Dad and I secured bottom bunks and a couple minutes later I heard an asian man complaining that only top bunks remained available, he was scared he might fall out, and with the wind  howling like it was, I think his concern was legitimate.  The mate advised him to speak with the captain, ultimately, he came back and slept on the top bunk.  The engine was roaring, there’s no way you could have been heard if you needed to speak in that room, the engine emitted a consistent loud grinding booming hum.  Dad handed me yellow ear plugs and a sleeping bag, within minutes, I was sound asleep.

I woke up 6 hours later, the lights were now on and the big boat rolled back and forth as heaving waves passed under it.  I made quick assessments, am I sick, is dad next to me, are we at the fishing spot…the answer to all of these questions was no.  I folded up my sleeping bag, walked up the stairs, out the door with the porthole and saw dozens of fishermen sleeping on the cabin floor, on benches, sleeping in the sitting position, sleeping in the standing position, their heads rolling with the boat, it all looked horribly uncomfortable, like fisherman zombies that needed to be put out of their misery, I was so thankful for the bunks we had.  Still no sight of dad, the sky outside was black, but my watch said it was six in the morning.  

I ventured outside and found dad in gear suitable for an Alaskan King Crab expedition, which was perfectly suitable for a late December day 60 miles out into the Atlantic with strong winds.  He was rigging up the rods and preparing our spot on the boat for a long day of fishing.  In every direction, just ocean, as the sun came up, you really came to appreciate it’s ability to give you perspective on where and when you are.  As the sun breached the horizon, the captain sounded the horn and that meant it was time to fish.  

I pushed the button on my reel, letting the line release, a twenty ounce sinker pulled the rig down into the ocean, quickly making my baited clam disappear.  The line raced out of my reel, my thumb resting gently on the spool to keep it from tangling up, still deeper, and deeper, and finally, after about 12 seconds of furious descent, the sinker crashed into the shipwreck 300 feet below.  Immediately, my rig gets hammered and I use both hands to jerk the rod up swiftly, driving the hook into the upper lip of a 3 pound sea bass.  I do not reel to play the fish, I mechanically crank with no pause with a single minded purpose of raising him from the deep.  As the sea bass emerges from the water, I give one more thrust of the rod to yank it from the water, 10 feet up from the water and over the boat’s railing, landing with a thud onto the deck.  The sea bass’ stomach is popping out of his mouth, he has a bad case of the bends (Did you know people got the bends while digging out the foundation of the Brooklyn Bridge, that’s how the bends was discovered and first diagnosed, ultimately, digging for the foundation on the Manhattan side stopping before it reached bedrock because people were dying too frequently, fortunately there has been no consequence thus far).  This activity of dropping down the bait, immediately catching a fish, and purposely reeling up the fish was repeated non-stop for the next 9 hours.  

My body got beat up pretty good during the exercise (but I fared better than the 25 sea bass with the stomachs popping out of their mouths!), I think the most abuse occurred as waves knocked me into the railing.  I caught some other random fish on occasion, such as porgies the size of dinner plates and a Conger Eel!     

The fellow fishermen were far from a homogenous group, resembling a United Nations session held in arctic conditions, I would say that no race held a majority, but the group was so like minded and driven by a similar purpose, it made for decent camaraderie.  No one ended up on this trip by accident, 19 hours in the Atlantic in late December is not for amateurs, even I, who has fished my entire life, felt like an imposter among them.  

The horn sounded 3 times, it meant it was time to go home.  I shedded several layers of clothing, changed shoes, and headed back down to my bunk, I fell asleep again and awoke 5 hours later as pushed into the inlet and were minutes away from the dock.  By this time it felt like I was on the boat for 3 days, with two satisfying rests in the bunk.  It was dark again and without my watch, it would have been difficult to make heads or tails of what time or day it was.  

So, would I do it again?  Yes, but I’d probably want to change it up, perhaps drive up north for cod, or venture out for tuna.  But, I wouldn’t mind taking some time before that next trip, those 19 hours left me plenty satisfied for now. 

4 thoughts on “Big Jamaica Fishing Trip – 19 hour edition

  1. I have learned good values and this is what I have obtained from this Course at large. In to the course, I have developed a positive attitude in myself that has helped me move forward in life. Today I am successful, but, the Course has also thought to help and support others to bring them up, as Roy McDonald has done for us. He is a great person. He has dedicated his life for this purpose.

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