December 27

With hardly any sleep for both of us, by 5:30am with still very faint light in the horizon, our boat crew caught a yellowfin tuna. I woke Yogi who by this time was an angry bear. We had been waiting for this – for our boat crew to catch a big tuna. So I started preparing the camera while Yogi groaned some more and telling me I wouldn‘t get it right. He cursed, stood up and photographed the men lifting the tuna then went back to bed.

Captain Mu'in and Eman lift a yellowfin tuna into the boat

Captain Mu’in and Eman lift a yellowfin tuna into the boat

At night it rained too and poor Hafizh was not well at all.

Hafizh is not sea broken. He has to be sent out to sea more often

Hafizh is not yet sea broken. He has to be sent out to sea more often

Sick Yogibear

Poor sick Yogibear. We’re running out of baby wipes and toilet paper!

So I took care of the now feverish Yogi and checked on Hafizh. He was at least feeling better after a bad night of throwing up. We all slept the whole day or at least tried to.

By 3pm all boats’ activities accelerated again. An hour before that, we prepared really slowly the underwater housing gear.

Our trusty Seacam underwater camera housing. What normally takes Yogi 20 minutes to assemble took him a long hour to finish

Our trusty Seacam underwater camera housing. What normally takes Yogi 20 minutes to assemble took him a long hour to finish

By now Yogi had a full day’s rest but hardly any food in him. The shouts of two fishermen in their outrigger boats catching big tuna got us excited and ready. The first man with the tuna was Pak Isi again, or our kite fisherman from yesterday. Isi is 4 days short of a month fishing here. He sleeps in the tiny rakit along with the others. His boat is tiny too – about 4 meters long and about half a meter wide. His outriggers were made of bamboo and his 2 stroke pump motor looks like these long stick cordless grass cutters.

Isi gaffs a yellowfin tuna

Isi gaffs a yellowfin tuna

With a yellowfin tuna in his line, Isi gave Yogi big smiles under his cone shaped hat when Yogi went into the water towards him

With a yellowfin tuna in his line, Isi gives Yogi big smiles under his cone shaped hat. Our boat looms behind him

The sun was beautifully warm, the water was not horribly choppy like yesterday and we had a tuna underwater! Isi was truly hardworking. He will go home to his wife and three kids in early January.

Then we went to the second man with a tuna. Pak Noka. He had the bigger fish. Now Pak Noka has been living in his boat for almost two months. His boat looked like his home and it was a little bigger than Isi’s. He said he didn’t want to go back to land to be with his family even for the new year so he doesn’t have to spend any money! I cannot imagine staying here near the rakit in the middle of the ocean for two bloody months! Three days was all I can bear. Oh what a hard life this man lives. And yet he gave us the sunniest smiles.

Yogi photographs Pak Noka and his big tuna

Yogi photographs Pak Noka and his big tuna

Pak Noka

Pak Noka is the cheerful man with the curly hair

On a normal day, these men would cumulatively catch 10 yellowfin tunas. On a good day, 20. During the last trip our boat “Tuna Jaya” made (right before our joining), the crew brought back 35 yellowfin tunas! We had a total of 5 including the catch from yesterday. I didn’t want to think I was bad luck because I’m a girl. It was a good thing the men didn’t have any superstitious beliefs. Attention to all Aussies – they have no problems having bananas on board! They just went fishing. It can’t be good or normal days all the time right? There had to be bad days.

By evening, Yogi was running a high fever. His whole body ached and he could not bring himself to swallow any food. Merry Christmas.

I tried to keep cheerful and hang on to the spirit of Christmas

I tried to keep cheerful and hang on to the last feelings of Christmas

Dec 28

Woke up at 6am and felt Yogi’s forehead. No fever! Hallelujah! It’s going to be fine today! By 8:30 we were eating freshly fried fish. Oh it was heavenly! Melt in your mouth fresh little tuna with meat falling off its bones!  It was first class restaurant fare. We brought our own Kikkoman sauce. Oh it was so good. Our Captain Mu’in brought us the fish himself with rice. When we said ENAK! Yummy! He came back with another mountain of fish and demanded we finish it! We were so very hungry not having eaten anything yesterday. Even if I was not sick, I commiserated with the boys and didn’t eat at all. I was starving!

All is well that ends well. Hafizh, Stella & The Flag pose with our crew of 5 in the middle of the sea

All is well that ends well. Hafizh, Stella & The Flag pose with our crew of five in the middle of the tuna highway

By 5:30 next morning, we were back on land! Ten hours long rocking journey back.