Uno hace sus planes y dios se rie.
We make our plans and God laughs.
The ending couldnt have been written any better by a hollywood scriptwriter, for a suspence film that is. Driving back to port the final time, i find myself again on my ice box (i think i’ve deserved my claim on it), drained after the pressure and excitement and relief and joy of a few moments ago. In solitude i appreciate the opportunity to say “adios” to this place Guatemala and it’s living blue ocean that now has a part of me.
This was an adventure dished up with all the trimmings and a few side orders I wouldn’t have asked for, but that is how adventures should go, right?
Why did i fall in love with a sport, a ‘Thing’, which by nature guarantees more failure than success? Am I a masochist, or an adventurer..? Or is this how we try to connect with God’s weirdest creatures, with Him?
There are experiences that can only be lived or smelled or breathed in, that make life worth while, that solidify a bond with a friend, brother, that you can take with you when you finally say adios to this world one day.
I feel happy, rested, content … thank God!
Day 14 Returning home
I wake up at 6:30 in a different room ! I’m slightly confused, I pear to my right and see August fast asleep!
(Morne this is not what it seems so don’t get ure hopes up)
He was on a single bed adjacent to mine.
I slowly orientate myself and realize I’m not fishing today and will be home in a day.
I hop out of bed , hit the shower and spend an hour pampering myself with moisturizers, face creams etc
The sun took its toll on me , yesterday was harsh on my skin. Even though I pasted on the factor 50 Vichy – I still burnt.
(take it easy Morne I’m not converting , I’m just playing to my metro man side)
I dress and do some last minute packing. I showered with the reef gloves (again Morne there is nothing sinister about that), the gloves stank of sailfish and I certainly didn’t want to risk leaving them in my luggage bag for 24 hours. So I cleaned them and soaked them in bulgari man body soap.
I cruised through Izjaq’s apartment to the balcony. He was kind enough to accommodate pepe , August and I for the night. He and pepe are mates and will be visiting south Africa at year end. Very hospitable and friendly guy.
I sat on the balcony and watched the city come to life. The silence was interrupted by birds chirping and the odd airplane landing at Guatemala airport , which is smack bang in the middle of the city.
I chilled and reflected on our trip, in no uncertain terms was it a success. Sure we had ups and downs but that’s normal. We had food poisoning on the hottest day in the two week period but we still had a good time.
My mind flips forward to the trip home. We need to hit La Aurora international airport early to tackle Delta airlines and sort augys lost bag out.
9:30 we on route , through Guatemala city , it’s lovely on a Sunday morning.
We arrive at La Aurora , off load our bags. We give Pepe a big hug and a hand shake. Walking away both Augy and I acknowledge we have made a friend for life. He is patient kind and caring with a brilliant sense of humor.
Soon we check in , last night I did the online check in and upgraded our seats for the flight from Atlanta to jhb. Extra leg room and reclines further – awesome!
Once we done with our check in we request to chat to the delta lost baggage clerk, we directed upstairs to a secure room.
We met by a delta clerk who promptly assists august with his request. More papers had to be completed – total claim from delta for the bag is $17000! I bet you they find that bag!
As we leave the room one of the delta staff instructed me to return to the check in counter – there was an issue with our seats ! Fugg this shit – thought!
So we return to the counter , the check in clerk smiles , takes our boarding passes and replaces it with upgraded seats to business class!
I go through to the gate while Augy has a smoke.
We meet later at the gate – delta clerk calls me again , changed seats again! Wtf!
He moved our business class seat nr to the seat closest to the exit. He explained that we will be first off the plane and need to run to immigration , clear it and pass customs , then request Deltas Performance leader. He is the main guy at Delta Atlanta and make stuff happen.
The thinking is that August goes with him to their warehouse to search his bag – we only have 1:30 lay over which is tight.
We comfortably seated in a large business class seats – very very nice! The inflight service was exceptional. They mixed us cocktails , made special coffees and pampered us way more than the other passengers! We were two princesses! Lol
The plane landed at Atlanta , we first at the door and ready to run, door opens and the sprint begins. Off the bridge , up the escalators , left down the passage to immigration. We end up being nr 2 and 3 in the queue – awesome! 15 minutes and we through.
We part ways at the baggage claim area. I stayed to ensure our bags are routed to cape town. Augy went on to the Performance leader.
Once I was satisfied I made my way to gate E12. I stopped to buy Ronn some perfume , some chocolates and stuff for the flight.
A few minutes later Augy joins me, he gives feedback on the the status of his bag.
Performance leader said that they couldn’t tie up his bag with my name , delta jhb checked his bag in under my name so they were essentially looking for my bag – his bag has his name tag on it! Eeeeeediiiots!!
So the story is that they found a bag which matches his , it’s in delta warehouse, they will request it and deliver to August home! We aint holding our breath!!!
19:05 we board our flight to South Africa , we had a great trip but happy we returning home!
Currently we seated at 31 h & j , we have ample leg room and seated on the wing – best place to sit! Awesome!!
Dinner just been served – I miss the yoghurt!
I just taken two texa-10 antihistamines , that stuff has anesthetic affect on me , way better than sleeping pills.
We in the air for 2 hours! We have 13 more to go! A good nights rest will do me good.
Chat later for some mid flight ramble.
Okay no mid flight ramble , we on the last hour of our flight to cape town. Arriving at jhb was a beautiful experience for me. The immigration officials were friendly and welcoming. I felt warmth all around and truly felt at home. Walking away from the passport control I yell , “I love south Africa!”. For those who know me – this is a huge about turn on my stance.
We have a wonderful country , beautiful people , the world of potential and possibly the most integrated society I’ve ever experienced.
Just landed in Cape town after 25 hours of travel , carousel sending one bag after another and ours is no where to be seen ! De ja vu ? I hope not !
I just wanna get home and sleep.
Bags finally come through, I’m gatvol and wanna get home to sleep.
We rush , I’m impatient and bark at two young ladies dawdling holding up the traffic.
They move over.
On time shuttle service meet us and rush us to car. We hit road for home.
This turns out to be the longest 45 minutes if our trip.
At security , signed in and onwards.
Augy , leaves , we hug and shake hands. Till next time brother.
I hit the shower , I realize my left pinkie finger is dead!!!! Yes stone dead. Zero sensation and weak movement. My neck also feels sore. Disk maybe ?
I hit the bed , for a short while wake up with pain in my hand. What’s going on?
Get up , Mkem for cataflam or arcoxia.
Eish , can’t give arcoxia!! Needs script. Crap.
DURBANVILLE mediclinic it is.
Okay so I’m done with clinic , it’s just before 3 am.
Diagnosis , neuro praxis , numbness due to compression of the ulna nerve.
To wait Three days , if no recovery I’m to urgently return for neuro evaluation.
Back home and off to sleep
Finally I’m in bed and about to sleep.
Day 13 part 2
At precisely 14:47 augusts condensed milk finally delivers a smoking hot sailie.
She comes blistering up the line , hits the teaser rig next to me – I hear the reel scream , I’m flustered.
In a blink, I’m down from the fly bridge and in the cabin….around me is a world of chaos , everyone is running off to their battle stations.
I grab the 7D with 70-200mm lens and run out the cabin, the fish is now teased up to the back of the boat , I feel the atmosphere is tense , everyone is holding their breath , no one can make a mistake here – not one mistake!
14:48 all lines cleared with the sailie in hot persuit of the baited teaser, firmly in the hands of Jimmy , he teases this sailie within inches off the transom.
He yells, “CaAAAAst”
The crew have done their best!!
It’s all down to August.
August , flicks the fly over his shoulder , yanks on the flyline , increasing the line speed , the rod loads , Augy pressed the rod forward , the fly follows , once the rod reaches its end point he halts the rod , the flyline curls over and carries the fly forward.
This is all happening in slow motion – everyone is watching with bated breath!
Flop , the fly lands perfectly!
We about to scream with anticipation. The stress is making me crumble inside – I’m about to rip my skin off it’s so bad!
I see the sailie turn on the fly , I have the 7D positioned in front of my face like a Guatemalan Shotgun, I press the trigger and a hundred shots are fired – silence! What happened ? I look at the camera – card is full! Nooooooooooo!
I see august set the hook , the highly agitated fish goes ripping across the surface while I run into the cabin to replace the card.
A fresh 4gig inserted and I’m ready , I run out and see 1/3 of the super 12 spectra stretched over the ocean surface.
I hoist myself up the fly bridge and seat myself there!
I missed the initial run and jump of the fish!
I know it will jump again, this time it closer to the boat.
Jerry , sterns the boat cautiously , any slack in the line will create an opportunity for the fish to throw the hook.
August retrieves the fish one crank at a time.
All we need to do is be patient , what’s done is done!
Stern , retrieve , pump , stern , retrieve … This continues for the next couple minutes – but feels like hours!
Anything can happen , hook coming loose , spat hook , broken hook , bent hook , snapped line , broken flyline , broken fly rod ! These last few moments are stressing me.
Augy is basically holding the success of the trip in his hands.
After what felt like an intense and drawn out fight the sailie showed some color beneath the boat.
She decided to become feisty and started jumping close by , thrashing her head and making sharp turns in the water with her sail hoisted.
This is the next couple moments are crucial to the successful landing of the fish.
Sergio touches the leader – the fish is landed. We want a photo. Not before Sergio gets his hands on that thrashing bill.
Sergio is bent over the gunwale , we all nervous. August moves into the corner of the transom , jimmy is standing-by to help hoist the fish.
Sergio leans back and pulls a 120lb sailfish over the gunwale , we all cheer with relief and happiness.
We pose with the sailie above our heads.
We achieved our goal – 10 landed sailies.
August and I are in a zone of deep emotional gratification and admiration for these beautiful fish.
High fives and cheers all round.
The crew were elated and relieved.
In my mind they earned every penny of their tip.
This trip could not have ended on a higher note for us. It was a perfect ending to a trip that had its hassles , pains , disappointments. We made the most of what we had , we landed good fish and we had a good trip over all.
The stats are as follows
Total number of
raised fish : 53
Strikes : 22
Releases : 10
Billfish on fly appears to the untrained eye as a matter of teasing a fish to the back of the boat , chucking a fly , waiting , setting the hook and releasing it. At first I also perceived it that way.
I now realize its way more than that! It’s tricky , your gear must be perfectly set up (and must arrive with you) , the crew and skipper need to be top drawer anglers and understand how to flyfishing for sailies , the boat needs to be a fish raising boat , some boats are better fish raisers than others , this has to do with the sound that the boat projects into the surrounding water , the rumbling diesel engine resonating through the hull , this sound fools the bill fish into thinking there is a bait ball being thrashed by other fish , they immediately drawn to it.
Then comes the final ingredient – the mind and attitude of the fly fisherman! Your need to think quick , react fast but most importantly – be very aggressive with the fish! It sounds weird but it’s true , unless you proactively aggressive , you won’t find yourself in the zone , which is needed to get that fish hooked and landed! It was evident the day I was sick and on the cooler.
Look at this way , a sailfish is no different to a cheetah , it’s survival depends on its ability to hunt , essentially a sailie is a pelagic assassin, when in battle with any wild predatory creature you have to become a predator yourself!
You cannot let it intimidate you.
Photos to follow
(this post was uploaded while sitting in business class cruising at 30000ft – yes we on our way home and yes we have onboard wireless Internet)
Our final day has arrived , the customary cup of yoghurt for breakfast is downed with a handful of vitamins.
Run upstairs , rap on the door and open it , yelling , “wake up princess”! August stirs and grumbles!
Lol! Geez that princess has a deep voice !
Mad rush to the marina for the last few morning photos. All gear on boat and we off.
9:05 Im on the cooler , fly rods ready , line peeled off , fly hanging off the side of the basket.
Jimmy spotted a hot sailie on the teaser , i jumped to my corner while simultaneously grasping the rod with my right hand and the fly with my left.
The fish came in quick , sergio teased her in , the guys instructed me to cast – I paused!
I spotted the sailie behind the teaser , I flopped my cast on the boat side of the teaser , short in other words!
The boat was already out of gear , the momentum carried us forward. My line straightened , I gave a hard pull on the fly line , the pink feathery popper dipped under the surface, the fish didnt react. Another pop , suddenly the bill came jetting out the water toward my popper. I knew I had one shot and wasn’t going to mess this up. The fish engulfed the fly , I paused , felt the flyline peel out my hand , then turned the rod while holding the flyreel. This set the hook – solid!
The sailfish went crazy – within seconds the paparazzi, pepe and August were snapping the jumping fish!
Glove and belt were fitted while I was managing the line and any slack that may appear.
Once I was settled in , I started cranking and adding pressure to the fish. I Slowly worked the sailie closer to the boat, once it was a few meters off the transom it made a few poses for the camera men.
I instructed Sergio to leader the fish , I backed off the drag on my abel reel in case Sergio looses grip and the fish takes off again. Once Sergio was comfortable with his grip on the sailfish’s bill , he remove the hooks. I moved into the corner of the transom next to Sergio. This little guy hauled the fish over the gunwale , I was presented with a beautiful 120lb well lit sailie.
The paparazzi continued to snap away.
As the fotos will testify , I was in heaven! That was by far the best fish I’ve ever caught in my life and by far the highlight of my trip.
I believe this to be my final sailie of my trip. It was a bitter sweet moment for me.
Augusts turn on the cooler.
He raised 2 two had a single strike and it spat the hook!
All we need is 1 more sailie to end our trip thr 10 sailfish between us, 5 each! this was our goal from the outset.
11:47 anticipation is growing , we are all on edge! We need that fish!!
12:40 we have two hours and twenty minutes to find and land 1 more sailie , the pressure is intense. Jimmy our skipper is tuned into all the radio channels , scanning for reports on hot fish, the crew is pacing the transom , repeatedly checking baits and teasers.
Augy has just opened his last tin of condensed milk – somehow it’s always coincidental with a strike! Let’s hope the condensed milk raises a fish! Lol
Nine minutes have passed since the condensed milk – seems fishing is slow today. Hang in there August , we going to get out fish. You need only 1 shot!
13:19 and still the condensed Milk hasn’t raised a fish! We have 1:40 left of our trip. We need that one fish – come on condensed milk!
13:27 the clock is ticking , the tension on everyone’s face is evident. All of us want this last fish with every cell in our body.
Sitting here on the fly bridge gives a person a wonderful perspective , I see the dual-hue horizon stretch and uninterrupted 360 degrees , a 9knot wind is blowing head on , I’ve have “The fray” playing trough my earfones, it adds an element of sobriety and melancholy to my mood – the trip is coming to a close.
A life long dream and five years of planning culminating in this moment – the final 1:30 minutes. I find myself staring at the wind swells with their white caps , it soothes my heart and soul.
Guatemala is a strange place – i like it here , she sunk her teeth in me , I love the small gems she offers.
13:45 hot sailie came in on the teaser. Augy cast – sailie disappeared. The pressure is building. 1 hour left!!!!!
We are worried – very worried. The clock is running down , the anxiety is no different to a world cup final , the score board tie and we into injury time. Everyone onboard knows our goal is 10 sailies!!
14:00 the wind is seriously picking up , I’m watching the clock and the water like a man possessed. I spot a flock of shearwaters hovering over a school of dorado, I point them out to our skipper, he responds by turning toward them.
I’m thinking back to yesterday’s last released sailie – caught in the dying moments of our day while trolling through and around the dorado school.
From the fly bridge I look over the railing , down at August , he is composed but I know inside he is praying. The pressure is all on him , one more fish , one more cast , one more hour!
14:23 the clock on the GPS is as distracting me like a bikini filled with hotness! To me time is slowing down – im in agony!
14:45 sea is rough , we trolling the same area as yesterday , dorado still around. I’m praying now !!
14:47 a smoking hot sailie comes blistering up the line , hits the teaser rig next to me – I hear the reel scream!
Check in tomorrow for how this ends!!
Sorry but I have to build suspense
In mean while here are Some fotos of my fish!