Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fake Out

Last night I was invited to a friend of my host's to make use of an internet connection and shower.  I chatted amicably with the 72 year old kayaker on all manner of subjects including his grandkids, his kayaking trips in the area and “What?  You've never caught a fish?” He asked me in disbelief.

“umm, no.  Not one.”

“But it's easy.”  He said. “All you have to do is drag your lure in the water.  Are you using a small lure? You need a small lure.”

“I am.”

“Well, really it's very easy.  I catch one almost every time I go out.”

I went about my business on the computer.  I can't say that his words, undoubtedly meant to encourage, had a heartwarming effect.

Day 46:

I had hoped today to paddle to the tip of the Five Villages area and then cut across the bay to Lerici.  I set out under a light drizzle and low visibility.  The mountains above me were steadily growing in sheerness and one in every three or so was dotted with a quaint village.

Some of the villages were right above the water while others were much higher up,sitting on cliffs that descended hundreds of feet to the waves below.  A boat ramp would invariably snake down the side of the rock to the water.  Kayaks and other small watercraft would be near the bottom.


Just past a village, with the sea and the wilderness around me I passed over a thick underwater rope to nowhere.  Maybe it washolding a buoy in place out at sea, or had long ago lost its purpose.  The wind had begun to pick up a little and it's always neat to watch the waves interplay with the rocks.  It's much more exciting to paddle close to shore.  My boat was pulled to the left, and then my fishing line reel snapped out from under the bungees.  It was still attached by a cord; I was extremely excited to grab it and release the cord so I could start reeling in.  This had never happened before, and I dared hope that I had caught a fish.

I believe I was saying “Holy shmoley.  Holy shmoley.  Holy schmoley.”  Through most of the process.  I would reel it in a little and feel the pressure against me.  Whatever had the other end of my line was fighting me in a way that said “You haven't caught a rock this time.”  When it was pulling hard I let it pull, and when it eased up I reeled it in a little more, recalling the strategy I read about in The Old Man and the Sea.

I didn't know if the fish was pulling me or the wind, but I was moving towards a rocky area where I would have to abandon the beast if it came to it.  Sometimes I would let some more line out, just to make sure the lure was properly swallowed, but always I would get back to slowly bringing it in.  The beast was now pulling more down than away from me, and then I could see the large rope I had passed over earlier.

And then I realized that I had caught the rope.  The excitement wasn't over, I had to save my lure.  There were eight Euro at stake here.

If I had to, I could always cut the line; the lure had the rope firmly.  It was important to me that I not capsize while fooling around with hooks and fishing wire so I tread with caution.  I had my pliers out and was prepared to cut the hook, it would be much cheaper to replace a hook then a lure.  Finally I pulled the old slimy green rope up on my deck and studied the thing closely.  I cut away the rope from around the hook and my lure was free.  Free to catch another rope another day.  Free to get caught in my spray skirt as it did right away.  Free.

Aside from the villages, there was nothing but the woods and the rocks.  At times the rocks took on many different colors, reds and beige and black intermingling with each other to give way to the green woods at their tops.

And then above that another final rock white peak would look out over all.  I could not take many pictures because around noon the wind picked up and turned into a solid headwind.  I stayed as near the cliffs I could to escape the full force of it, but this provided its own set of challenges.


The headwind continued to pick up and the time came when I decided that I would get offthe water at the next opportunity.  Shortly after I made out a house halfway up the cliff and what might have been a way down to a rocky beach.  I studied the surf for a while before moving on.  The conditions weren't so bad that I would risk my boat in a tricky landing.

Later I saw a better beach, and above it five or six abandoned shacks that might have been from the beginning of the last century.  I didn't have enough food or water to camp out, so I paddled on.

The mountains grew more and more impressive, sporting exciting looking sea caves thatwere larger and deeper than any I had seen yet.

At the end of the peninsula I was traveling along I would find a port.  Just after that were a couple of islands.  I didn't know if the mountains ahead were islands or part of the mainland.

I hadn't seen a village for a while when I could make out a huge castle above me.  Wallsalong the top of the cliff ran to an old church above an outcropping from the sea.  It was an impressive fortification.  Around the church what I thought was a small gully turned out to be the sea before the first island.  I could make out the port.

The water between the island and the mainland was not rough as I expected, but a flat and safe harbor.  My wild ride had come to an end.  The port had a couple of emergency rafts, a few small fishing boats, and a line of sleek sailing racers that looked set to begin a race around the world.

In the port’s offices I scored the code to the shower room and an invitation to sleep on the floor.  I went back out to my boat and pulled it up onto the pier as I usually do, and saw my fishing line was caught on something.

As best I could make out, it was hooked either to the emergency life boat not far from me, or more likely, the life boats anchor rope.  I leaped from the pier into the life boat and walked to the stern as I continued reeling in.  I could make out the anchor rope and my line went down to it.  There was something shiny down there too big to be my lure.

A fish was there, and it was hooked on my lure.  The line was wrapped around the anchor rope many times, but not caught on it.  Some time in the craziness of my day I caught a fish and didn't notice.  I pulled it with me who knows how far, and when I finally stopped, Samson made one last wily effort to flee only to find himself getting pulled closer and closer to the anchor rope.  There he gave up, for when I found him he had no strength.

I gutted, scaled, and named Samson.  A great creature turned into a tasty treat.


  1. mazel tov!!!
    this might be the castle you saw:
    click on the photo with arches to see a slideshow of the caslte

  2. Yes. My friend who has been helping me with photos is taking finals now. Thanks for all the questions Steve, I'm always glad to know people are interested.

  3. haha congrats! the irony of you catching a fish while not paying attention is delicious...probably not as delicious as the fish, but delicious.