Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fishing Net Dangers

sv Imagine's rudder damage
Tom = "Good morning dear.  Hey, I think Kurt's boat sv Imagine is on the mooring ball behind us."
Sabrina = "Rut-row.  That can't be good.  He should be in Grenada by now.  It wasn't there last night when we left the cockpit at midnight to go to bed.  I hope everything is ok."
Tom =  "I am going to get us doubles for breakfast.  I think I will stop by on the way back and check in with him." 
FYI - Best husband in the world.....he went and got us doubles for breakfast.  YUM!

I know you have heard me mention on more than one occasion how we have to keep a close eye out for fishing floats and how hard they are to spot.   They are usually marked with two or three small plastic pop bottles- often clear in color.....because that's easy to spot.   NOT!!  If you will remember, we even snagged a fishing float on two different occasions in season two.  These fishing floats are usually 1-3 miles off island coastlines. 

Besides these coastal fishing floats, we also have to keep an eye out for bigger fishing nets.  These are much larger and spread out over a bigger area.  Usually between Grenada and Trinidad.  These seem to be set out at night.  They might have a tiny light or two on them or they might not.  Same is true for the fishing pirogue (type of fishing boat found in the Caribbean).  Sometimes the only light is the headlamp worn by the fisherman.  Tiny lights like these are nearly impossible to see in any sort of seas other than dead-flat-calm.

Even if you spot the lights, it is very difficult to tell which way to steer to for clear water.

Deep cut by polypro line and net
Turns out Kurt sv Imagine was 7 miles off the north coast of Trinidad in the middle of the night.  He was headed to Grenada which is usually done as an overnight passage.  The wind and seas were building a bit when suddenly the boat stopped.  He was caught in a big fishing net.  The drag of it spun the boat around part way until he was stern to the wind with breaking waves crashing over the back of boat and into the cockpit.  His head sail got twisted/tangled, flailed about and eventually tore.  Oh yeah, Kurt is a solo sailor!  The fishing pirogue finally came along side, banging and scratching his hull up and denting the toe rail in a couple of places as they did.  They cut most of net free and then just left.  They didn't offer to assist Kurt at all.  He checked the bilge for leaks, thinking the net might have pulled on the shaft.  Luckily, he didn't have any water in the bilge.  Much later, he made it back into Chaguaramas but still in the dark of night and took the mooring ball behind us.  Again, SOLO.
Deep cut
In the morning light he could see remnants of the floating polyprop line and the net.  Tom grabbed his snorkel gear and dove under his boat to have a look for him.  The prop/shaft was clear.  Whew!  However, the polypro line (no bigger than 3/8" diameter) had cut into the rudder pretty deep.  No wire, polypro line and net only!  I know - crazy!  Being stern to the waves, bashing up and down, the line just sawed through it.  The only thing that stopped it from going deeper ....(read) all the way through...was the actual rudder post.  OMG, right?!

He was able to haul the next morning to start repairs.  The good news in all of this is that he is okay.  This is now the third boat we have known to get caught in these types of nets.         

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