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“Are you here for the poker?” I ask a surfing looking dude sitting back in a chair at Shrimpy’s laundry.
“No I’m here for my laundry.” says John, a long blonde haired single hander from Orkney. We exchange our stories and I tell him about Glee until the poker game is ready to start and he asks if I’d like a trip down the islands on his catamaran. “Why not,” I reply

The next day $20 out of pocket for the stake at the poker game, I’m bounding along the rolling swell of Marigot bay in the bow of John’s dinghy bouncing up and down on top of the sack of newly purchased provisions, bursting open the crisps an peanuts within. We motor round from Marigot to Simpson Bay to get an early jump on the sail to Nevis the next morning. We real out the line and lure along the way and pretty soon a lively fish is jumping and bucking on the line and we catch a spanish mackeral. I watched the fish with some remorse as it shook and shuddered in the bucket while it suffocated to death. I couldn’t bring myself to kill it so I turned my thoughts to other things.

Simpson Bay anchorage was still stacked out for the Heineken Regatta but we settled on the edge of the channel to the lagoon. Filleting the fish was straight forward and made for a delicious tuna type salad.

Up at the crack of dawn we head South East toward Nevis. The forecast was for 25 knot winds east south east, which meant sailing close to the wind. A catamaran typically cannot sail closer than 60 degrees into the wind.

Weighing anchor, we head out into the pre-dawn twilight. Reeling out the fishing line as the sun rose over Atlantic, we catch one barracuda within about half an hour, Clipping the harness onto the stern rail of the bucking and rolling Skyran, hauling the line in and hooking the gills to retrieve the hook from the needle sharp jaws returning it to the sea, then another returning it to the sea again and later a a third that we throw in the bucket.  10 hours of gale force buffeting by sea and wind, we arrived at Charlestown ferry dock settling down to meaty, bony barracuda curry.

Skyran, catamaran heading south from St Martin to Nevis a while back.

Posted by Paul Shepherd on Monday, April 24, 2017

Barracuda is a robust fish which has to be treated with caution as it feeds on fish that graze reefs of a poisonous algae. Ciguatera poisoning can be a real problem. It’s caused by eating fish that have eaten fish that have eaten fish that have eaten this toxic green algae. The toxicity accumulates up the food chain until it reaches the top. Large barracuda are one of the worst as they are a top reef predator. Blue water fish are not so much of a problem as they eat less of the algae eating reef fish that start the chain. If we were to eat the barracuda we had to assess the risks. We were far enough in blue water that this specimen’s diet was light on reef grazing fish and it was small (young) enough to have little accumulation. Additionally, we were at the lower borders of danger. South of Antigua is considered to have less of the particular algae on the reefs and we weren’t that far above that latitude.

We were the only catamaran anchored near the ferry dock. A mile north we could see the masts of the yachts in the mooring field. Checking in revealed that there was a mandatory mooring charge whether you used a buoy or not. There is more than one type of pirate of the Caribbean. there are the outlaws roaming the sea but far more prevalent are the uniformed rule makers of each ‘authority’ on the islands.

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