Miranda Merron on the GOR: More fishing nets

Miranda Merron on the GOR: More fishing nets

Monday October 3 2011 Author: Miranda Merron Location: none selected

Night falls quickly at these latitudes, and the cloud cover obscuring whatever moon there is, it is deep darkness. Last night we thought we were reasonably positioned, not only strategically, but also far enough away from the coast to avoid its traps. But no!

Although 50 miles offshore and in over 100 metres of water, we had an unpleasant surprise when we came across a network of fishing llines. First we saw the faint light of the small fishing boat, and then a few feeble white flashing lights, visible at no more than a hundred metres (which is a little late for aboat sailing along at 8 knots under spinnaker...). The fishermen came over to see us out of curiosity, partly to ask us to be careful with their equipment, but also to see whether they could extract some "presents". Cigarettes, whisky, etc... It would have been a little complicated to explain that France Frais does not distribute these types of product, and that if a feasibility study for a subsidiary in Western Sahara had been undertaken, the results were as yet unknown, and so they would have to wait a bit to benefit from the distribution of Campagne de France products in this region.

So we asked them instead for the whereabouts of the exit of their aquatic labirynth. They kindly said "over there", but since we could only hear them and not see them, and that we definitely didn't want to tell them that we hadn't understood them, and then have them hanging around near the boat, we were no clearer. In the meantime, we had dropped the spinnaker, stopped the boat, hoisted the gennaker etc... Thinking that we could see a way out, off we went. But we soon realised that our boat speed was nowhere near what it should have been for the wind speed... And with good reason! Shining a torch in th water around the boat, we spotted a small white jerrycan which we were towing behind us... and which was but a tiny part of the vast network of lines which we were trying to tow. We were totally trapped with lines caught around the keel. In the black night, choppy water and especially the strong current, diving was out of the question, particularly since we could see the glimmer of fish hooked on large hooks.

Once we had got the sails down and stopped the boat, we were able to start untangling ourselves... and two hours later after various manoeuvres we were free... while being careful not to damage the equipment of these hard working fishermen. We thought that the Kiwis would have taken miles out of us, but the 2100 position report was not as dire as expected.

The rest of the night was no more pleasant, with thunderstorms, zero wind, keeping a lookout for other boats etc... hard work and not much sleep..

Daylight and the arrival of steadier wind was most welcome!

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