December 26

Four out of six outrigger boats already in the fishing grounds when we arrived

Four out of six outrigger boats already in the fishing grounds when we arrived

The crew on our ship went fishing by 9:30am. As in all of them! We just got here! They tethered our boat to the rakit and the other smaller outrigger pump boats already in the area tied to us.

After steaming the whole night to location, Captain Mu'in does not take a rest. Instead, he's gone fishing!

After steaming the whole night to location, Captain Mu’in does not take a rest. Instead, he’s gone fishing!

No time to waste. It's time for fishing!

No time to waste. It’s time for fishing!

Now it was a game of waiting. And endless waiting. I swear, Yogi & I will never become fishermen in our lifetime.

There was too much waiting for fish to bite

There was too much waiting for fish to bite

By 3pm, after practically no-movement from noon, a surge of activity erupted.  The boat rolled and rolled. There were white caps and one meter waves constantly rolling. Poor Hafizh – this young man is not sea broken yet. Yogi reassured him that in his younger days many moons ago, he too got seasick all the time.  Well it was 3-minute noodles for us and fried eggs for lunch.

A kite fisherman Pak Isi caught a tuna

A kite fisherman Pak Isi catches a tuna

A kite fisherman runs a small outrigger boat at the same time flies a small kite. The kite has a hook and line hanging off of it and it bounces up and down the water’s surface like a lure while the kite is flying.  And yes, it can catch a yellowfin tuna! Pak Isi is the younger brother of our Captain Mu’in.

Hafizh helps lift the yellowfin tuna to see how big it is

Hafizh helps lift the yellowfin tuna to see how big it is

Pak

Pak Isi carved his initials on the side tail of the tuna. The fish is gutted and cleaned before it was taken into the icey bowels of our carrier boat. Hafizh takes a personal photo of the event

Then somebody caught a marlin which I managed to take a blurry picture to prove it was there and jumping!

The tire- our outdoor and outboat toilet!

The Tire – our outdoor and out-boat toilet!

While the marlin was jumping, Yogi was hanging on a tire outside the boat for his first of many toilet breaks. He too was feeling crappy.

Dari, the man who didn't stop fishing

Dari, the man who didn’t stop fishing

Throughout the day, our boat crew were catching smaller fish with different techniques. Either a simple baited hook and line thrown out to the sea or the long elaborate process of chopping a skipjack into tiny pieces,

It's really a fish-eat-fish world down there

It’s really a fish-eat-fish world down there

put the chopped fish in a weighted plastic elongated cone, put a nice piece of fish into the hook 5 meters away from the cone, put hook into the cone and throw everything into the water until 150 meters is reached.

An elaborate way to

An elaborate way to catch a skipjack

Once the line is in position, they play the line which releases the chopped fish at 150 meters and hope for a bite. They did this again and again.

Captain Mu'in hooks a live skipjack tuna to fish for a bigger tuna

Captain Mu’in hooks a live skipjack tuna to fish for a bigger tuna

They caught skipjacks and small baby yellowfin which, while still alive, were immediately hooked to a heavier line then thrown back into the water for hopes of the bigger yellowfin to bite. It was quite cannibalistic! Other smaller boats would come and throw small fish into our boat. Our boat crew caught lots of small fish but still no ikan besar – big fish.

Yogi’s toilet breaks were getting more frequent and Hafizh was definitely woozy.  Hmm, I had to keep strong . . . By 6pm we were tied nearer the rakit and men from all the six outrigger boats were on the rakit fishing from under it. We asked for the lights of the rakit to be turned on but our captain said malam – at night, when it is dark. I went to Hafizh to seek translation help but he was fast asleep and unwakeable.   So with my limited Indonesian language skills, I asked Captain Mu’in to have the men turn on the lights for the magic hour picture – just for 5 minutes.  Yogi waits for these moments when the atmosphere light (by this time is blue) is equal to the artificial light. He loves these moments.

So one man turned on the generator to light the lamps and the whole rakit groaned!

So one man turned on the generator to light the lamps and the whole rakit groaned!

Shouts of turn off the light in Indonesian was obvious. So after some quick shots, we gave the signal to turn off the lamps again. The fish here was different. There were thousands of scads under the rakit. A bubu (fish trap) or 2 were deployed just below the surface with a square hole on top of the trap. In a very short time,  the bubu bobbing up and down managed to catch quite some fish.

Five fishermen sleep here every night after a whole day of fishing.

Five fishermen sleep here every night after a whole day of fishing.

After a quick dinner of noodles and eggs, we went back to our tiny cabin for the evening. It was the most uncomfortable night I can remember ever having during this expedition so far. Yogi had a bad stomach and woke up every hour to go to the non-existent toilet. He was grumpy and groaning and the toilet paper and baby wipes in its plastic crackled beside my ear all night long. I want my own cabin!