It’s not what you might think. Sounds like a major gastronomical distress.It is nothing of the sort. ‘Hack Attack’ is the name of a 45’ sport fisherman boat that we chartered to deep sea fish AND to see St. Lucia from the water. Without farther adieu – I am honored to introduce you to Captain Noah and First Mate Matthew and their vessel ‘Hack Attack’.
Nobody bothered to mention that it is WINTER here and therefore the wave action is a tad bit higher than in summer (or higher than we ever experienced in our lifetime so far).
Promptly at 8:30 AM we meet in the lobby to wait for our ‘shuttle’ to the marina where the fishing vessel and crew awaited our arrival. I yawned – Mister had me up at 7am so we could have ‘breakfast’ before we left as our excursion would last 4 hours. Anyway, I managed to gag down some coffee, fruit and yogurt. I do recall stating that ‘this better be good to haul my behind out of bed at such an early hour’. He giggles. Yeah, funny. I had a bag packed with every accoutrement I could possibly need on board a boat for a 4 hour cruise;water, hat, sunscreen, bandaids, Kleenex (boat heads are notorious for not having toilet tissue), camera, and sunglasses and a sweater. Okay at first glance it might be said I had over packed. Well here is my story and NO… I did not over pack and the other passengers on board were mightily appreciative later.
Our ride arrives. We stole a glance at each other and smirk. It is a 4-door BMW with a lone occupant – our driver. At this point I guessed we were the only people from our resort taking this ‘excursion’ today and riding in style to boot. That should have been the first sign. The Marina was only 15 minutes from the resort and as we pull in I wasn’t really comforted by the fact we were the only ones there. Shortly after we arrived, three other brave souls appeared; a newlywed couple and a guy who left his wife back at their resort, not the seaworthy type he claimed-smart lady. I strolled around the building and found this boat that had been in the same spot for a long time. This was not really comforting.
We were ushered to our vessel – a 45’ fishing boat complete with outriggers and the fishing rods appropriate for LARGE fish. Hubbie puts on his ‘marine surveyor’ hat and does a quick scan of the boat. He chuckles…he is not sure of the make – it is an older version of …something. BUT he IS impressed with the twin 420 Caterpillar diesels. Oh for Pete’s sake…like I care! (Later I was REALLY glad this boat had power beneath the decks!) After a little lecture about boat safety and a disclaimer that there were ‘no guarantees’ to catch a fish, our first mate quipped that is why they call it ‘Deep Sea Fishing…not Deep Sea Catching’. Haw Haw – very funny.
We slowly putt out of the harbor and of course the view is spectacular. It is still early and the water is flat…at least in the cove that is. There are a lot of coves around St. Lucia and they are beautiful. The sea on the other hand is open – very open and the waves have miles and miles to build up speed and height. The winds are high at this time of year. That is nice when you are on the beach or sweltering around the pool. But as boaters, we are not fussy about high winds while at sea. I prayed to my ‘Sea Angels’ to stay with us. I have great respect for the sea and since I didn’t know the Captain of this boat personally, we were in effect putting our lives in his hands. Hail Mary!
All joking aside, each of us took our turns sitting in the ‘chair’. I wasn’t fussy about sitting there as the sun was starting to get really HOT and sitting in a swivel chair was like being on a rotisserie. BUT Matthew wouldn’t hear of it. So in the chair I plunked. I turned to my ‘mate’ and without anyone hearing, admitted that I would have a ‘hack attack’ if any of the seven rods started screaming while I was in that chair! Lathering on another layer of sunscreen, I felt my ears getting hot…I forgot about those!
I looked up at the outriggers and they were bobbing quietly with the motion of the waves…waves which seemed to be having their way with this 45’ boat! The other 5 rods outfitted for big fish were mounted on the stern and sides. After the requisite photo-ops, everyone settled in for the ‘wait’. Bait and chum had been dutifully put out and everyone was excited. Lots of camaraderie and discussions about what we would ‘like’ to catch occupied our thoughts and conversation. Mine was simple. I have always wanted to catch a Marlin. Today would be no different. As I sat there squinting at the sky and hoping for ‘something’ to bite, Captain Noah continued to troll the deep seas ever so slowly.
With NO warning whatsoever, one rod on the starboard side started screaming as our ‘catch’ headed to the deep with the bait and hook. I had hooked one! Like a replay of ‘JAWS’, much scurrying and shouting from Captain Noah and the first mate for someone to ‘take the rod’. I never jumped out of a chair so fast in my life. My ‘mate’ jumped in like we were pros at musical chairs!! He grabbed the rod and the fight ensued. It was evident he had done this before. After about 15 minutes, with his expert reeling and pulling, whatever was on the end of the line was beginning to tire. I was worried about his arm. But never admitting defeat, he kept pulling.
The newlywed groom (who had proudly said earlier that he worked out at the gym), took his turn and jumped in the chair. Unaccustomed to this type of ‘workout’, before long the veins in his forearms were popping. Our catch wasn’t giving up. Our young companion eventually admitted he was ‘done in’. The third guy jumped into the chair. He was from Alberta with no experience landing ‘a big one’ either but undaunted he gave it his all. Tiring quickly, he too needed help. When the leader (end of the fishing line) popped out of the water there were great shouts – and as soon as the fish spotted the boat and all the people he got a burst of adrenaline and attempted to ‘go deep’ again. The first mate Matthew stepped in and at the end there were four guys working that rod and line. Meanwhile the newlywed bride and I were hop scotching around the cockpit trying to find the best vantage point for a photo and video.
A beautiful 250-300 lb Blue Marlin broke the surface and tried again to make a run for it. There were too many on our end. Captain Noah jumped down from the flybridge to assist Matthew. Cameras clicked; high fives all around and the Captain promptly released our Marlin. We had hooked on and landed the Marlin in a few minutes short of an hour!! That poor fish paid a hefty price that morning for his breakfast. Swimming away, we were sure he was shouting at us…W.T.F.!?
Heading to shore, the twin ‘cats’ spewed out a cloud of black smoke as the diesel powered 420’s strained against the sea that had within minutes risen to swells cresting at 12 feet in height. After idling and trolling for 2 hours the diesels were ready to roar. Our travel companions turned a pale green as the horizon disappeared a few times when we were in the gully of the swells. Our young groom took a few deep breaths and swallows and tried to discreetly puke over the starboard side. There is absolutely nothing discreet about puking over the side of the boat! The sea was so rough; they would never make it to the ‘head’ anyway so we were instructed from the get-go to put it over the side if the situation arose. It did. Two of our companions spent the better part of the journey back to the marina heaving over the side. They were thankful for my water…and my Kleenex. HA HA – over packed indeed!