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Cruising Tales: The Hard Way to Catch a Fish and Other Adventures

During another down time between charters when we took Avenir II to Leinster Bay on the north side of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, we had several more unplanned adventures.

One of our jobs there was to paint the bottom of the Whaler on the beach. That done, I was swimming to the boat while Mike rowed back. We heard noise above us and saw a frigate bird struggling with a large fish. It appeared that it had bitten off more than it could chew.

The fish squirmed wildly and the bird hung on gamely but the fish won. The frigate released it near the dinghy. Unfortunately the fish was too wounded and its bladder had inflated.  It could not dive down although it struggled mightily.  Seeing an opportunity for a free fish dinner, Mike rowed the boat close to the thrashing fish, stood up and whacked at it with one of the oars. He missed and the fish jerkily swam away. Mike had to pole the boat near it and smack at it again and again.

Picture a large, rotund man in his swimsuit standing in a Whaler, smacking away at a fish which, although badly handicapped, moved quickly away before the oar could hit it. Whack! Mike missed. He maneuvered the dinghy closer. Smack! Missed again! This went on for a while until both whacker and whackee were getting exhausted.

Finally through a stroke of luck (although Mike insisted it was his fine aim) the oar connected with the fish.  Mike hit it so hard that it went straight to the bottom. He positioned the dinghy over the fish which he could see on the bottom while I grabbed some fins and a mask, dove down and retrieved the now dead fish.  It was a Pompano and although rather battered, made one of our finest meals ever.

Another adventure occurred while on charter in Leinster Bay.  It was cocktail time on a lovely, golden evening and we and the guests were in the cockpit. Someone noticed a pretty creamy-colored jenny cantering along the path coming from the Annaberg Sugar Mill area. Right behind her was a larger, older jack.

Apparently the jack wanted to have his way with the jenny and she wanted no part of it. She ran to the rocks where the beach ended, ducked into the bushes, changed course and with the jack right behind her, ran back in the direction from which they had come.  By now the pace was quicker and our guests were getting excited. Soon they divided into two camps – the men rooting for the jack, the ladies for the jenny. Meanwhile, the two donkeys disappeared around the bend.

A lively discussion ensued as to whether the jack would be successful when someone spotted the two galloping fast toward the head of the beach again. This time the jack was angrily braying with his big teeth bared. The jenny ran faster but he kept right up with her.

The spectators all got caught up in the spectacle, the males encouraging the pursuer, the females, the pursuee. Everyone was laughing and waving their arms and you could hear hoots from all the other boats. Again the jenny approached the end of the beach and swerved into the bushes with the jack practically touching her tail. They disappeared and nobody could see anything. The bay got quiet. Everyone stopped talking and listened.

Several minutes later we heard loud, triumphant HEE HAWS! The jack had been successful. The whole bay erupted into roars and laughter, the men whacking each other on the back and hugging the women.

What a fine ending to a splendid day!

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