A ship boys tale
By Marco Nielsen
In 2008 seventeen year old Marco Nielsen's wildest dream came true. He should be cabin-boy on the big-game boat Amelia, with one of the world's best skippers at the helm, Marlin expert and great big game angler Zak Conde.
Life as a ship's boy on a big-game boat is a tough, exciting and intense experience. It is long days, big waves, sun, sweaty fights and dramatic landings on the high seas.
One of those experiences that make most impression occurs after a week's time when we have a couple of guests from New Zealand, says Marco: Marty - the second ship boy (now Captain) - had gone home, so it is Xi and I am that do the deck.
Today we have four fishing rods with Kona heads, dancing around the surface. After half an hour sailing, Xi and I are ready set the rods. And after a short time, the line clip releases with a snap, as a massive blue marlin flapping his heavy body out of the water behind the boat. Adrenaline rushes through your body, and in a split second, I am completely up in the red. Zak shouts and screams: - "Come on Marco, take the other lines in ..." - I am almost paralyzed to have seen and experienced what I have so long been waiting for. But in a instant I wake up to reality.
We quickly take the other lines in, while our guest gets a hold of the rod with the wild marlin on the end of the line. With the heavy gear we manhandle him over in his chair, while Zak cry – “Come on Roger”, “Wren-Wren” the reel scream. The fish is moving towards the boat and the line is dangerously lax. The line is moving rapidly towards the boat, and Zak begins to back in order not to get rid of the lax line. He shouts and screams to take line on the wheel, if not we will lose the fish. And it must not happen just now, because it is a big fish. Luckily the line becomes tight again, and now running out - and up against the surface. One second after, the beautiful marlin is twisting in the air, and cascades of water are spraying in all directions. Sun is burning hot, and as the fight drags out, we become more and more dehydrated.
As the leader finally come into view, Xi takes hold of the line with his hands. Even after 40 minutes fight the fish have massive forces, so he has to be careful that it does not go berserk at the boat's side. Finally, I stand eye to eye with the beautiful fish - a fish that I've always wanted to touch with my own hands. I take hold of the beaks, then Xi can take the hook out. But suddenly I can feel the anger brewing in the powerful fish, and I know that it is now, I shall stick the tag. It is so incredibly strong that I am about to give up, but eventually it calms down. Xi trying again to take the hook out, and few seconds after the fish is set free, as all blue marlin caught Amelia unless they die unintentionally. Joy spread and developed into wild jubilation by Zak, that estimate the fish at 750 pounds.
Sandwich and tuna
The time is approaching lunchtime, so I decide to make sandwiches to out guests. The sun is at its highest, and it is very hot. While I was doing the sandwiches, I'm suddenly aware of a huge splash behind the outer pole. Linen whistles of one of the stand-up bars, but we're not sure if it's a marlin or a tuna.
After a long fight we can see that it is a yellow fin tuna. I find the gloves, and have the gaf jammed in my other hand. The plan is that I should stick the fish, while Xi takes the leader with his hands. Just a single mistake and we lose the fish. Fortunately, I hooked it right the first time, so now it had be killed with a bat before it begins to toss too much around. When the fish is well up in the boat, it turns out that it weighs amazing 92 kilos.
After a days fishing Xi and I rolls the bars in, after which we begin the laborious work to clean the poles, wires and wheels. Then I start to wash the boats interior, so we only have to wash Amelia outside when we come into port. There are a lot of work, but with a good working relationship between Xi and I, the tasks are quickly resolved.
Our next customers are the Danes Peter Meinertz, Søren Meinertz and Lars Schmidt. The water is blue and the sun shines from a cloudless sky. The day is perfect and I can feel that they are eager to catch some big blue marlin. Today we fish with six rods, two middle ones is a stand-up gear. The six squid-like Kona heads mooch on the surface behind the boat, while we are eager hope to see the beak of a giant marlin breaking the surface - and strike at the tempting bait.
Seconds later the line clip gives at snapping sound, and a nice tuna jumps out of water. Now it's Peter's turn, and I make fight belt ready. The fish took the bait on a stand-up bar. While Peter gets control over the situation, a spot another tuna behind the boat, and ten seconds later it tears the line out of the line clip from the outrigger. Linen whips of the wheel, while Schmidt, who was about to turn on the video camera, rushes out of the cabin to get the rod. Seconds after, he has good hold of the rod, and the fish is still on. Xi and I get the other baits in quickly rolled, and begin to clear the deck for the fights.
Schmidt soon fights in his chair, and after just twenty-minute fight, comes the beautiful yellow fin tuna to to the surface in the deep blue water. All on deck is quite wild, but we still need to concentrate, so nothing goes wrong.
Peter stands still and fights, while the sweat trickles down his hot forehead. I decide therefore to get cold drinks from the ice box, and shortly after he feels somewhat better. Before long, Schmidt's fish comes into view. XI gets hold of the leader in the first attempt, and with the precision I get the gaff in the fish. Bat comes out quickly, and after a few blows in the head it is finished. Meanwhile, Peter is still going on with the long fight, but before long this beauty also comes in safely in the boat.
While the happy Danes cheer on the boat, we quickly put out chaff with sharpened hooks, and just five minutes later Zak see a beak on the surface. He shouts to me, but before I get looking in the right place, the fish has already taken the Kona head. - "It's your turn Søren", we shouts, while he hurries into place. Soon all lines are rolled up, and it is up to Søren in the fight chair to do the rest. The yellow line rises rapidly with the surface, and a moment later we can again enjoy the jump from a massive marlin, that with violent force throws its beak from side to side in a cloud of water droplets.
But suddenly the angry jerk stops at the end of the line. - The fish is dead, says Zak, who calls me aside, and commands me to prepare the rescue boat. He wants Schmidt and I in the boat so we can get some good pictures. For starters, I think he makes fun of me, but he is serious. Shortly after we sail out on the high seas in a dinghy, which is approximately two and a half meters long, and I end up actually taking some very nice photos.
Just before the fishing day ends, we get another take from a marlin in the 800-pound class, which we unfortunately lose. But it's been a fantastic day at sea - and an experience for me I will never forget. Today's result is a blue marlin of 650 pounds to Søren Meinertz, a yellow fin tuna weighing 97 kilograms to Lars Schmidt, and a yellow fin at 85 kilograms to Peter Meinertz.