For the last one thousand miles of sailing up the Great Barrier Reef we have been engaged in a battle with the mighty
mackerel. So far the mackerels are winning. These aggressive aquatic predators have hit our trolling lines at least five times, and four out of five times they escaped just before we landed them on deck. These
mackerels are about a meter in length. They are fast swimmers and they put up a strong fight when you get them near the boat.
Mackerels love to eat other mackerels. When a
mackerel hits your lure, you have to pull it in quickly before an even larger mackerel hits the hooked fish and strips him off your lure. We lost one
mackerel just that way. We were pulling the mackerel in and another fish hit him before we could reel him in. Not only did that fish steal our
mackerel, it also hit the second lure that we were trailing to starboard and it stole the lure as well.
We have been using four inch minnow lures with two sets of dull, rusty treble hooks. The poor condition of the hooks and lures probably has been responsible for the
mackerels shaking out the hooks at the last minute. When we arrived in Cairns, Australia, we decided to up the ante in our battle with the
mackerels and we purchased Weapons of Mackerel Destruction known to us as WMDs. We have new fishing lures with sharp hooks. With our new weapons of
mackerel destruction, we are sure that fewer mackerels will escape our grasp. We will keep you posted on how the
mackerels are doing with our new WMDs
Who's Watching Who? The Whales Are Watching Us!
Each year more than one thousand humpback whales migrate along Australia's east coast. The Queensland newspapers advertise whale watching tours in the areas around Fraser Island, Moreton Bay, and the Whitsunday Islands. I am always skeptical about such advertisements. I thought that the chances of seeing a whale up close would be remote. I also thought that whale watching tours were just an easy way to extract money from the purses of unsuspecting tourists.
The truth is that we aren't watching the whales. Instead, the whales are watching us. As we sailed up the east coast of Australia, more than one hundred whales scrutinized Exit Only as it inched its way along the Great Barrier Reef. Each day dozens of whales spouted their presence along the horizon. They spy-hopped and even jumped clear out of the water to get a better look at us as we sailed by. Most the time the humpbacks kept their distance. Only one of them swam over to our boat and gave us a closer inspection. That particular humpback swam in front of Exit Only, then dove under the yacht surfacing behind the yacht, and then followed us for a couple of minutes before moving on. This curious whale was not
aggressive, and after a good look at Exit Only, he swam off.
The rest of the humpbacks saw us coming in the distance and consistently kept their distance at least one hundred meters from us as we sailed along. I am sure they knew we were there and were following us with their whale sonar because they consistently stayed the same distance from us. The jumping whales always did their aerobatics a safe distance from our yacht.
I envied the exuberance of these free swimming freight train sized mammals. Their awesome power is balanced by gentle instincts that pose no threat to humans. It's hard to imagine how anyone could ever harm these beautiful animals. The whales are watching us from a distance and hopefully we won't betray their trust and send them into extinction.
Let's talk about motivation.
How fast would you swim if a twelve foot crocodile was chasing you? Although you might not set an
Olympic swimming speed record, you would probably get a personal best when it came to how fast you swam in your own crocodile freestyle race!
In Cairns, we are in the heart of crocodile county. Only a crazy person would jump into murky crocodile infested water and go for a swim. Nevertheless, that is
exactly what a bunch of athletes are going to do in the Cairn's Triathlon. However, they are pushing the odds in their favor by swimming the
triathlon inside a kilometer long crocodile net.
This net connects to the land at both ends of the net. The upper edge
of the net has an air bladder that floats the net on the water's surface.
The bottom of the net has a chain that keeps the net in contact with the
muddy bottom of the tidal flats where the swimmers will tempt the crocodiles
with flailing arms and legs. This is definitely a feast that
crocodiles think about when they dream. Yummy swimmers everywhere.
I am sure most of the athletes don't look forward to swimming in the murky
water of crocodile land. On the other hand, just the thought of
swimming with crocodiles will get their adrenalin pumping and chances are
we will see some fast times in the swimming competition. Crocks rule!