Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saturday 2/1/14 Long Line fishermen

The Eagle Eye II and Mike Swan, Captain the Eyelander and the wheelhouse

     A cold rain at sunrise greeted the Eagle Eye II and its sibling the Eyelander at the dock in Port Royal SC.  The Eyelander was off-loading 27,000 pounds of Yellow Fin Tuna, Big Eye Tuna, Blue Fin Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Sword Fish they caught over the last three weeks on the mid-Atlantic Ridge south of Bermuda.  A fishing trip is a risk - before they leave the dock they spend upwards of $ 50,000 on fuel, bait, food and other provisions that has to be made up before the Captain or any of the hands can make any money.   

As soon as they are caught, the fish are tightly packed along with sea ice in a below-deck hold.  Sea water doesn't freeze until 28 degrees Fahrenheit, somewhat colder than fresh water (The ship produces its own sea-ice.)  The fishery was ready for them, with big boxes on pallets, more ice and a refrigerated truck ready to take them to market.  But the first order of business is to get the fish out of the hold of the boat, weighed and up on the dock.  

     Once up on the deck, each fish is laid on a large scale with a digital readout.  Kelly dutifully logged the species and weight. Then each fish is hoisted up onto the dock where they are packed in the large boxes along with sea ice. 

     Once each box is full, they are filled with fresh ice, then lifted into the waiting semi.  

     The packing system developed by Jim Buddy is so innovative that he is patenting it.  But just in case his system breaks down, Pelicans keep a keen eye, ready to pounce on an easy meal.

Jim Buddy and an opportunistic Pelican

     It took about eight hours to unload all that fish, so I pitched in for a bit helping to put together the boxes.  I was compensated with my own mahi mahi plus a huge hunk of swordfish.  Returning to Pat's place, she and her friend Ann cooked us up an awesome fish dinner.

Ann Duval and Pat Keown

     It was a long day, but a very interesting one.  I have never been around fish this size.  I have a whole new respect for what it takes to get this food to our stores and restaurants.  Tomorrow I may go see the other ship unload a bit, but there are many other sites that I would like to visit in this vicinity.  I will sleep well tonight, and until next time - be sure to have a 

Happy Sunday !!

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