Monthly Archives: October 2013

Monster Marlin wins after 7-hour battle!

After 10 days at sea we’ve arrived safe and sound in Mauritius with LUSH and all her gear still in tact….  well all her sailing gear at least.  As for the fishing kit… now that’s another story!!!!

8.30am on Monday 28th Oct Paul and I woke on hearing the headsail furl and our engine turn on.  Alan was on watch.  This could only mean one thing… we’ve hooked something!  We quickly joined him on deck to help slow the boat down.  The fishing line was flying out of the rod at a serious rate of knots, Alan shouts ‘this is a big one, slow LUSH right down!’  There may be a word or two missing from that last quote!  Paul steered her up into the wind and Al started to pull on the reel, the fish leapt from the water about 50metres behind LUSH….. it was a SERIOUSLY MASSIVE MARLIN!!!!!

Normally when marlin jump they get a load of slack in the line to then pull against and break.  To date we’ve lost all the Marlins we’ve hooked from this stunt so there was no way the lads were gonna let it happen again.  Al reeled in the slack quickly, keeping the tension on.   Pretty much all the line was still out so we knew we had a bit to go to get this in.  With a fierce amount of pull on the line Al had to work hard, he was sure “this is the one for us, we have him, just have to take our time and play the line”.  “Play the line”??!!!……. one hour goes by…. then the next… then the third and Al is still “playing the line!!!!”.  Lucy is on deck too and the two of us are starting to wonder will this ever end?  The more time we spend with this Marlin the longer it will take us to arrive in Mauritius and the more likely we’ll experience rougher weather, which was forecast.

Meantime, Als hands are glued to the rod and Paul is steering LUSH keeping our fish to leeward and under tension.  Al shouts out that the fish is coming close and soon to surface by the back of LUSH.  The three of us gather round our fisherman and peer over the stern.  Oh boy what a sight we beheld…….. it was a monster, the biggest fish I’ve ever seen in the flesh (besides the humpback whales).  With all the diving we’ve done on this trip I haven’t seen or come close to anything as big.  ‘Twas a Marlin alright, stunning electric blue, purple and aqua green colours on its underside with a seriously long bill (sword/spike above his mouth).   He must have been 12 foot long, and folks ye can trust me when I say that, I find us girls tend to have a more accurate and honest judgment when it comes to size! Now this length doesn’t include the bill, which was prob another 3 foot on top of that!  And there he was, 4 meters away from LUSH.  Als eyes widened, his grip tightened, this was a battle he intended to win, he wasn’t letting this deep ocean beast out of his hands now.  After 20,000 miles this was the closest we’d come to landing a whopper…. He clutched the rod tightly, no way could any of us come between him and his fish.

Al figured the Marlin had plenty of energy yet and said he’d need a bit longer to tire the creature out.  His birthday was a day away and skipper granted him his wish, even if it was to delay our arrival into Mauritius by a day.  This was looking likely as we had to get in before dark the following day or wait till first light the day after to enter Port Louis under harbour regs.  Another hour with this fish, really meant another 12hours for us at sea on top of the time spent reeling him in!!!  Lucy and I looked at each other rolling our eyes thinking the lads are in deep now and they just won’t give up.  The forth hour goes by, then the fifth and I’m seriously getting frustrated, “come on Al, get the blinking thing in”.  Al just continued to tire the fish, letting the line out and then reeling him back in, recalling fishing lore such as Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea when it took Santiago three days to tire his marlin out!!!  I was getting impatient telling Al to get it close and we’ll put a noose in the end of the halyard feeding it down to our marlin around the fishing line.  In fairness it isn’t as easy as that, not with a fish this big and aggressive.  Al was right, we needed to fully tire him out before we could bring him onboard.  What would we do with him once onboard was still a bit of a mystery!

Marlin Facts

  • Marlin fishing is said to be the pinnacle of offshore sport fishing, due to the size, power and also the elusiveness of the four marlin species
  • It’s one of the worlds greatest game fishes
  • Marlin are part of the billfish family and spend the majority of their life in the open sea, far from land
  • Blue marlin are distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans


The sixth hour goes by with much the same battle as the previous five.  We had suggested to Al on numerous occasions to take a break and put Paul on the rod but this was a battle Al wanted to fight on his own.  I’m guessing that’s some type of masculine, animal type testosterone thing that I will never understand.

And finally the seventh hour…..

There was no sign of Als powerful pelagic giant caving in and by now it had pulled the mighty LUSH 20miles off course in a seemingly inexhaustible display of strength.  I still don’t know how the rod is still in one piece, it practically bent all the way back on itself from the pressure.

After the first hour Lucy and I had started to ponder on what we could have done with an hour of our time had we been back home.  I would have made it over to my sisters (Eleanor) house from Dunlaoghaire, playing with the kids catching up on all the gos and back to my place within the hour, with two hours I’d have been to Galway to my Melanie’s pad (younger sister), over three hours would have you on the final stretch of the Dublin to Westport road and the in the heart of Connaught’s countryside.  Four hours I’d be having a cuppa with Clodagh (third sister), Ronan and the kids and five hours I’d surly be home in Newport from Dublin in around the kitchen table with the folks, tucking into the bacon and cabbage (oh I do miss that, Mum!) … Six hours and we’d be cosy out around Dads fire drink or two in hand…. But seven blinking hours… seven full hours…….. God knows…… do you ever think about what you could do with seven hours?  Certainly Lucy had gone from London to Penzance with her time but she too was struggling with the seventh hour…

It was time to get tough… Al was reluctant to put the full break on the line and just wanted to keep tiring his opponent out…. he would have stayed up with him all night I’m sure of it…. Alas, he put the break on and our Marlin pulled back only a meter from the stern, snapping the line and swimming free… GAME OVER

I’m not sure about Indian Ocean Marlin but certainly the Atlantic Blue Marlin is a threatened species and must be released if caught within 200miles of the US.  Sports fishermen catch them, haul them onto their boat, take the pic etc and release them.  The survival rate of released fish is low because of damage during capture.  So really it’s a good job we never got the beast onboard.

What Al felt at that moment we can probably all only imagine… there’s not many of us who would take on such a fight let alone stay at it for that length.  One thing is for sure HE HAS A STORY, which really is what we all have at the end of the day, just this is one that will endure.

Once Al finished his battle and record attempt we then had Skipper on a mission to compete his record and get this boat into Mauritius within 10days.  We threw the third reef into the sail and put LUSH back on course.  As darkness fell the wind picked up to about 35-38knots, with seas building we knew we had a long night ahead.  LUSH maxed at 18.6knots that night, we blasted through this Indian Ocean and arrived on Als birthday (29th) at 3pm.  Our final fish score was 8 to Fish and 6 to LUSH, they got us and finished it off in style.  We really have to hand it to them!  And as for Als Marlin, well my guess is he’s back living it up in his Ocean and will no doubt stay clear of shiny pink squid for a while at least!

Lots of Love,  Audrey xxx

1st Hour Marlin Jumping (Google Image)

1st Hour Marlin Jumping (Google Image)

2nd hour, serious focus, skipper steers boat so helping Al keep tension in his line and stopping fish swim under the boat and snapping the line!

2nd hour, serious focus, skipper steers boat so helping Al keep tension in his line and stopping fish swim under the boat and snapping the line!

3rd hour, the Marlin surfaces by the stern

3rd hour, the Marlin surfaces by the stern

4th hour, Al stops for the first time to rehydrate

4th hour, Al stops for the first time to rehydrate

5th hour, enough already...

5th hour, enough already…

6th hour... zzz…

6th hour… zzz…

The 7th hour…

The 7th hour…

Blue Marlin (google image!)

Blue Marlin (google image!)

Oyster notice LUSH takes a dive South!

Oyster notice LUSH takes a dive South!

Fancy a trip to the Antarctic?  This Marlin was not giving up!

Fancy a trip to the Antarctic? This Marlin was not giving up!

Salty sea dogs arrive in Mauritus after the final grueling 24 hours at sea!  Certainly three of us were glad to be on terra firma!

Salty sea dogs arrive in Mauritus after the final grueling 24 hours at sea! Certainly three of us were glad to be on terra firma!


Day 9 In the Indian Ocean

We’re just under a day away from Mauritius and all is well aboard LUSH. That “potential” tropical storm I mentioned in my last blog hasn’t fully developed to anything of concern yet and isn’t in our path at the mo. We will come into more breeze in this next 24hours, poss up around 30knots which LUSH is well able to handle.

Luckily the lads have always stayed ahead of any problems onboard and this trip has been no exception. They discovered a snapped/stretched shackle on Reef 1 when doing the final rig check in the Cocos. The shackle had managed to hold the sail in place on the previous passage but it certainly wouldn’t have held on this one, which would have been a real killer as we’ve been on reef 1 for most of our 10 days at sea. We couldn’t have replaced it easily and safely at sea and might have had to sail underpowered on reef 2!

Yesterday morning Paul heard a slightly different sound to usual coming from the lazarette (aft storage compartment). I couldn’t hear anything different myself. It’s amazing how he picks up even the slightest difference in tonality anywhere on the boat. Anyhow, investigating this further, it turned out the joint which attaches the autopilot to the rudders had worked its way loose and was about to break. This would have led to further issues which with poor weather approaching would not have been ideal. Alan, our mighty engineer got straight to work on it, not easy in rolling seas and driving rain, and managed to fix it for now. In fairness we’ve just logged 20,000 nautical miles so it really shouldn’t be a surprise to have some wear and tear at this stage.

And now for the latest on our fish score… well this really isn’t good news… they’ve come back at us just when we thought we had the upper hand! The current score is 7 to the Fish Vs 6 to LUSH!!!!! Disaster!! Al and Paul really are at a loss to know what move to make next. With very little fishing gear left they are now only using one rod! We’ve had some massive marlin bite but the problem we reckon is that we can’t slow down quick enough to haul them in, next thing we see them jump and then they’re gone! I guess after an adventure like this sailors and fishermen return with stories of the ONE that got away, the problem for us is ours will be the story of the TWENTY PLUS that got away… I’m afraid it’ll be too long a story to tell L

There’s talk of Eddie taking the lads sport fishing in Mauritus so maybe they’ll pick up some tips then! Here’s hoping!

No doubt ye’ll all be glad to hear (back home) that we’ve been experiencing plenty of good oul Irish weather on the last few days (grey mountainous seas with driving rain) and have had to take out our oillies for the first time since leaving the Canaries. At least it means we’ve started going through the massive box of cuppa-soups I bought in Southampton which we honestly haven’t had an appetite for till now! Plenty of Irish music on the go too! Happy days!!

Lots of love,

Audrey xxx

Storm’s A Brewin!

Day 5 at sea and we’re monitoring a depression developing to the Northeast of Mauritius. We delayed leaving the Coco islands by a day to avoid this same depression and we considered delaying for another day however we decided against that and opted to capitalize on some decent wind outside of the low giving us good passage time to Mauritius. That decision certainly paid off and LUSH has averaged over 10knots since we left the Cocos. We normally calculate our passage time based on an average of 8.5knots, so as you can imagine we’re all delighted onboard to be clocking up the miles at this rate. To recap we’ve logged 974 miles after 4 days at sea and 262 miles in one day has been our best day so far.

One thing’s for sure, we’re grateful to be sailing the oceans in this day and age, where we can get decent weather information at sea. It’s only really in the last 10 years or so that yachts have used sat phone and Internet for weather forecasts. Prior to that it was mainly all on HF radio. So once a day we connect to the Internet through our Sat phone and download the GFS model gribfiles with Zygrib in the States. We can get hold of weather faxes too if we want and also Eddie Scougal (from Oyster) has been sending a daily email to the Oyster fleet with an update from UK Met Office.

There is a chance that this depression may develop into a tropical cyclone which when mature can generate winds in excess of 63knots (Force 12). Tropical Cyclones are found around the world in both hemispheres developing within a band between 5 and 20 degrees latitude from the equator and mainly during the summer months. The tropical cyclone season in the Southern Hemisphere is from November to April. Within the eye (centre) of the cyclone winds are light and in the wall around can blow up to 180knots and decrease towards the outside of this wall. A young cyclone moves at a rate of around 15knots and normally in a westerly direction angled slightly away from the equator. It slowly picks up speed until one of two things occur: either it reaches land, or it

recurves (South and then East!).

And now the Good News….

· We are all tracking this with regular forecasts

· UK Met say that there’s a weak to moderate chance of it developing into a tropical cyclone

· Our gribfiles show the max wind speed at 50knots

· We will be over four hundred miles away from where we estimate the centre of the cyclone to be at it’s closest to us (general rule is that outside of 100miles winds are rarely more than gale force)

· We can slow down if we’re concerned of coming into contact with it

· Fortunately the barometre has been steady, as normal, with a regular daily rise and fall of a couple of millibars peaking at about 10am and 10pm and reaching it’s minimum at about 4pm and 4am. Any pressure falling outside this normal daily range will be an early warning for us of approaching weather.

And the Best News of all…..

· I have a load of army ration packs to feed the crew so I won’t be venturing into the galley if the proverbial hits the fan!

And finally some Fishing News….

Well our fishermen are back in action and are currently holding a score of 6 – 3 to LUSH (no flying fish included this time)!!! Rejoice!!! We’re not cursed after all…… well actually there is a footnote coming up……

We had to throw 4 of the fish (Wahoo/Spanish Mackreal) back in the ocean as they were riddled with parasites and worms!!!

One Life…. Currently sailing and fishing through it!

Lots of love,

Audrey and the mighty crew and skipper aboard the goodship LUSH


50knots by sunday

50knots by sunday

fish at last check out this massive wahoo

fish at last check out this massive wahoo

tropical strom brewing above mauritius

tropical strom brewing above mauritius

reassuring email from oyster uk met

reassuring email from oyster uk met

Setting sail for ‘Part 2’ of the Indian Ocean!

Hi all,

Just wanted to touch base as we haven’t blogged in about two months!!!! Clearly having way too much fun to spend even a moment typing on this computer!! We have just pulled out of the Cocos Keeling islands in the Indian Ocean and are setting our sails to cross the rest of this magnificent ocean.

LUSH flew down here from Bali averaging 12knots!!! These islands are class and we’ve had an absolute blast here. The wind blew all week in our anchorage so Paul and I managed to get some kite surfing in and am pretty shattered from it now and with a massive smile on my face!! 😉

Looks like we’ll have plenty of breeze for this next passage!! We’ve sailed around 1,200 nautical miles to here from Bali and we have over 2,345 left to sail, which will take us about two weeks. Bring it on!!!! LUSH and her crew are ready!!

Our fishing record hasn’t been going too well of late, however Al managed to catch a shark (black tip reef shark) in the Cocos so we’re hoping that’s the end to the 9 week fish drought… We reckon the fish in the Indian Ocean might just be that bit more clever than the Pacific ones. Our two resident “fishermen” (Al and Paul) have been changing all the lures around and coming up with all sorts of new tactics to catch something….. here’s hoping!! One thing’s for sure my freezer is looking very empty these days L

Love to all at home

Audrey xxx

PS Blogs to follow on Oz and our most favorite country yet… Indonesia but first I must return to deck and trim those sails… Mauritus awaits.

One Life…. Loving it!!