It was 0200 when Kelly woke me (just as I had finally fallen asleep). The engine had overheated and the alarm was going off. We had been motor sailing through the night as there was no wind.
We had to shut the motor off and, because a ship was bearing down on us, I decided to stay up, communicate with the ship and wait until it had safely passed. So I sat pondering the engine problem, and how to fix it, as we sailed along at a very slow 1.5-2 knots against the East Australian Current.
When Kelly got up at 0400 I had worked out we had an air block in the raw water inlet. I fixed that and I put the motor back on and we were once again underway doing a nice 6 knots, so I went back to bed.
I got up at 0630 and Kelly went back for another sleep (one of us got enough sleep that night!). I put the trolling lines out and sat back to enjoy the beautiful sunny morning.
At 0930 I got a hit. The rod started screaming as the fish started running my line out. I grabbed the rod and realised I had a pretty big fish on it. I screamed out for Kelly to wake up. Kelly came staggering out of the cabin all groggy from sleep and I started yelling instructions to her. The poor thing did bloody brilliant! She had to pull in the head sail, turn the boat around and head back to the fish which we could see jumping out of the water at least 200 metres away. She had to get this done asap before my line completely spooled off. The instructions continue to be fired at her “get me the gimble belt for the rod”, “motor the boat forward”, “get a photo”, “go to the port”, “go to the starboard!”, “are you getting photos?”, “reverse!”, “go to the starboard”, “get my gloves”, “forward.. to the port”, “take a photo”, “get the gaff”, “starboard! starboard!”, “tie a rope on to the gaff”, “reverse”, “here it comes, get a photo”, “I need a drink, get me water”, “reverse, to the starboard” …. This continued, while the fish fought me, for two hours until we finally had it alongside our yacht Thorfinn.
Then I realised it was so big I could not simply gaff him and pull him aboard. After a moment of consideration we decided to get a slip knot around it’s tail and winch it aboard using the staysail halyard. Once it was safely aboard and strapped to the mast we put the boat back on course and had a celebratory rum & coke with lunch.
Just as we were finishing our lunch the wind picked up, as we knew it was going to. The fish had put us two hours behind, which we decided was a small price to pay! However, things changed rapidly as I went to reef the main. The boom broke away from the mast. With our main sail disabled, the next four hours was spent smashing into 25knots of wind and big seas using our motor, which thankfully did not have any further problems.
We finally entered Coffs Harbour with no more than an hour of sunlight left. Unfortunately, as we dropped the anchor, bone weary and ready for a rest, we had to set to work cleaning and bagging the marlin. Again we thought it a small price to pay.
Check out the variety of meals we made with the marlin – marlin pies, pickled marlin, marlin dumpling soup, marlin skewers on green pea mash, just to name a few…
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