Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bird Cay, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: E 10-15 knots

In the water, just at dusk, I can see big black fish with wide fins like wings circling the boat. The wind’s calm, our sheltered spot behind Bird Cay has a little bit of a ripple in the water, but the surface of the waves is glassy, as if someone had poured ink over them. Karl’s leaned over the side of the boat, frisking his fingers through the water to play with the fish. They eye him warily and then attack, lightning-fast, giving him barely enough time to pull his hande back. The sky’s dark blue, fading to black, and it’s just about time for the full moon. Maybe tomorrow.

We can’t decide whether to fish for these black fish. I don’t really want to--they’re our friends. Are they good to eat? Are we allowed to fish for them? We really need a fishing guide.

I spent most of the day in the water, while Karl was working on our engine. My plan for the day was: make breakfast and coffee, do dishes after procrastinating and lingering over coffee in the sunny cockpit with Karl, become overwhelmingly hot and sweaty while doing dishes, put on bathing suit, jump in water. All goals for the day were accomplished. I also scraped some of the bottom of the boat to feel like I was contributing something, before Karl jumped in the water and grabbed me from behind, scaring the crap out of me.

But mainly I snorkeled. I saw little electric-blue fish with yellow tails, flitting around rocks. I saw big bright-yellow fish that seemed to live in holes they dug in the sand. I saw a green parrot-looking fish with a curled-in tail that hung out in the reeds and stared at me. And I saw a perfect white flounder, camoflauged on the back side of a rock where I almost missed him. I don’t know if I’ve ever really seen a flounder before. They actually have both eyes on one side of their head! Their eyes protrude a bit, like a crab’s, looking around in all directions. It looked like a mutant, like something that got stuck in a nuclear reactor, but still beautiful, at the same time. As I stared at him and he stared at me, fluttering his fins, trying to decide if his disguise was working, I could see that he wasn’t white at all. There were little patterns of pink and iridescent yellow, tiny circles like patches of lichen. I could also see its two perfect filets beneath its skin, which could have been so delicious for dinner tonight. But even if I had had a Hawaiian sling, I don’t know if I would have been able to kill him. Living among all these beautiful sea creatures may be enough to turn me vegetarian. Especially when they all have a hard enough time already. All these sports fishermen we see every day with their giant outriggers and their fishfinders and their electric reels and their sonar to simulate mating calls. Not to mention the Chinese trawlers clearing the sea out.

Karl keeps trying to convince me that the few piddly fish we catch won’t matter--we paid for our fishing license, after all. But it matters for that one, I always counter. I don’t know if he feels any differently tonight, as he makes bubbles with his fingers, trying to get the big black fish to round around and play with him again, and again, and again.

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