"Small boat fish yes, small boat fish yes"

This story did not happen to me but it is new. It happened to my friends Paul and Ana when they were sailing from Mexico to Marquesas Islands, summer 2008. It took them more then 50 days on their 12mts ferrocement boat. After about a month on the crossing, they saw a big steel ship, about 75 mts long. Usually you do not see ships everyday in the middle of Pacific and they rarely call you by a radio. This one did: "small boat fish yes, small boat fish yes", with a strong uknown accent. What this could be? After a while they realised that a crew of Korean fishing ship would be very pleased to see them and give them some fish. Letīs "gam". (meeting of crews of two or more whaling ships on the high sea in the old days). Paul said "yes" and the other ships course changed in such a way that they would meet them soon if they just continue on their course with the same speed.

 

It was a calm day, but most sailing boat skippers hesitate to tie up along a big ship. The main dangers are: damage you rigging because sailing boat moves on the everpresent swel meanwhile the big ship does not (or with a different roll) and the seccond is a pirat attack. But this was very calm day and the ship was low enough to make damage easily. Most piracy nowadays is done by small boats in costal waters, why not to give a try.


The ship approached and a man throw a monkeyfist on Paul and Anaīs board. They had a big line soon and tied it to their cleat. The shipīs powerfull winch started to pull them towards. When they tied up alongside, they met the crew - 25 man from different Asian countries. Korea, Indonesia, China... All were very happy to see them and despite the language difficulties they understood each other somehow. The fishermen gave them a huge piece of a very good fish. Paul asked for a smaller one because it would not fit to their fridge (which did not work anyway) but it was the smallest piece they had. You understand that it was a very nice experience for Paul and Ana to meet somebody as friendly after 30 days od sailing. And imagine how it was for the fishermen - they were on their trip for 17 month and 5 more ahead of them. Without any holidays. (They must have taken fuel sometimes). The ship was kind of a factory, maybe they made fish cans, I do not know. The visit did not take long. It was time to go...

 

I think it must have been an experience for all involved. And what surprised me is that extremely long voyages which take years are not something from the past. (Nantucket whalers went sometimes for 3 years, occansionally stopping somewhere, however very rarely). Interesting stories about the people on the ocean are still happening.

 

Anchorage in Hiva oa, French Polynesia, very rolly

This picture is just to illustrate the proportions. (The big ship damaged the nearest salingboat during her manouvers in one bay without saying sorry).



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