Day 79 – I can’t decide whether to call this a rest day or not. It kind of has been, but after a very busy and memorable morning off the bike I then cycled from David’s (he’s off back home to work in Birmingham, poor chap) a reasonable way (ish) on a very hot afternoon to a campground in Cavendish near the fabled home of (stay calm Susie) Anne of Green Gables. Let’s call it a transition stage. It also meant travelling in the wrong direction, but I can’t help that. Tomorrow I’ll hit the Gables before cycling right across the island, maybe as far as the ferry.
- Transition stats….not much of anything but I was pretty hot and tired when I got here!
We arranged last night to get out to the dockside by 8am to load ourselves onto the boat that was to take us deep sea fishing out of the coast of the island. I couldn’t wait to go, although I was a bit unsure whether my total lack of fishing skills would be a problem. I really needn’t have worried.
We were going with two friends of David’s, Marlene and Judy. David and Marlene have done this trip often, but Judy and I were newbies. The plan was to sail out of the harbour of North Rustico a little way, where we would stop to get acquainted with our rods and fish for mackerel. These would be the bait for the real catch of the day: Cod.
So the Captain gave us a demo of mackerel fishing (let the reel out for 4-6 seconds, then jerk it back up through the water. See, I was listening) and caught two straight away. I thought, oh great, now I’ll be mucking about catching nothing for an hour. I let my line out, jerked it up through the water and…hey presto, two glistening mackerel.:
Once we were way out at sea, with the coastline just a distant haze, they cut the engine and gave us a quick cod masterclass. The technique now was all about keeping your line on or just above the bottom and the rod still. This was almost at the limit of our reels, so you had to keep adjusting the line to keep the hooks wobbling along on the sea bed. This was trickier. We were all given the new freshly-caught bait, with the instruction “Let’s get at’em!”:
The captain caught one straight away, and one or two others got fish, but our team was not finding this too easy. The capt told me to be much quicker at yanking the line up hard if you felt the merest tickle of a bite, so I did just that, and my next attempt I pulled this thing out of the water!:
I can’t remember what they called it, but the mate said to me: “You know what I’d do with this? Slice him right down the middle, turn him inside out and use him as lobster bait. He’s their favourite”. This fish scavenges apparently, following the cod wherever they go. They have really nasty spines hidden on their back which he was very careful to avoid.
I tried the same thing again, and pulled up my very first cod fish:
We kept moving to new areas to try our luck, but the catch remained fairly light, apart from the captain who seemed to catch them at will. “Any more tips?” I asked him. “Trying fishing for cod for thirty years?” was his wise reply.
“OK, reel ’em in, we’re heading back” he announced. As we sped back the mate got on with filleting the cod so that we could each get a bag of fish from the catch:
The gulls really loved this bit, and the many gannets that had found us started dive-bombing to get the sinking fish-guts. I accidentally got another nearly-ok action bird photo, catching this gannet as it was about to draw in it’s wings for impact:
One last stop before returning to harbour was an attempt to pull up an anchor that someone had got stuck on the bottom. I never got the whole story, but our boat gave it a good go, using their mechanical winch and making huge circles around the site of the anchor, sort of winding it in and keeping the propellers away from it, but there was a tremendous twangy snapping sound as the anchor resisted and the rope seized on the winch, then flew right off. This was clearly not expected and things turned a touch serious all of a sudden. I felt a strange dejavu feeling, and wondered why oh why I hadn’t brought my lucky uke. Radio messages were exchanged and a small fishing boat pulled alongside to discuss the problem, but I couldn’t hear any of it above the sound of the engine, and the country music channel. They calmly disconnected their winch from the buoy that marked the spot, and we left. I guess it’s a job for another day.
It was a great experience, and I could imagine going again one day back in England. It’s great to be way out at sea when they cut the engine and the boat just drifts about. Holding the rod still and feeling for a bite was a great mixture of concentration and relaxation. I loved it.
Back on shore, after being given our take of the day’s catch…
…we visited The Yellow House, a place that they all knew well, famous for its Lobster Rolls. Between the four of us we had haddock, lobster, burger and chicken. I had to have lobster, and hopefully not for the last time in the coming weeks. This area is famous for its Lobster Supper restaurants.
Then I packed up back at David’s and said goodbye to them all, with regrets that it’s been so brief, before heading back to my new campground. I went via the bakery David recommended, where I got rolls and a sort of pastie:
The place I’m camping this evening seems to be a magnet for classic cars:
Tonight is a record for this trip: in my Cavendish campground I can see thirteen tents just looking directly in front of me. It’s so good to have the company and I’m feeling very much like I would camping at home, but with better weather and chipmunks scampering around as if they’d been told that they need to get everything done in the next five minutes. After the morning out at sea I find that “my boat is still moving” (as we used to say on the ECO Music Cruises) – this picnic table that I’m using as a desk keeps dipping away from me. Opposite a child is pretending he’s an opera singer and making everyone laugh, the two families next door to me are all speaking a half-and-half English/French and playing with their cute little girls. Tent life, to me, brings out the best in everyone, as long as it isn’t pouring.