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May 20, 2011
Dear Friends and Family,
Last night (Thursday) about 9 p.m. we passed the half way mark of this passage. Another mile stone was about 7 a.m. when we started to come out of the strong counter current we had been bucking for about 24 hours. It got as much as 2 or 3 knots against us and slowed us down depressingly compared to the push of help from the current when we first began. Now we are current less and on what we can make just with the wind. We are doing OK but are looking at a drop in wind soon that may cause us to motor or motor sail the remainder of the way home. We hope that we will be approaching Boca Grand pass by early Saturday morning, putting us in PGI by early afternoon. Of course, right now, that is the hope!
Watches have been so easy with 4 of us to cover them but still the time, probably goes more slowly because of it. I know we do a lot more sleeping. Part of that is the problem of butt fatigue from sitting too much. Laying down is a change of posture!
At any rate, all is well, seas are moderate to calm and we are starting to hear radio announcements from Sea Tow in Port Charlotte. We are also in radio contact with a couple we met in Belize who leave their boat at Burnt Store Marina near Punta Gorda and spend their summers at their home in Tucson, AZ. They are heading to the same place we are.
Since this is a short log with less to report than usual, I have been saving this time to discuss something that I have been doing a lot of thinking about. Please realize that I am coming to no conclusions or making any judgments, just ruminating!
A big theme this season as been the lion fish population explosion in the Caribbean and Atlantic since they were first spotted about 5 or 6 years ago. The lion fish is primarily a Pacific fish and new to this area where it is not a native. Unfortunately, they have been very destructive to the reefs. The reason is that they consume about 70% of the baby fish and of course that will ultimately destroy the other fish populations. We even took a picture of a poster marking them wanted, dead or alive. Many areas have competitions with prizes for who can bring in the most lion fish dead, any size. Some places have had more than 300 brought in but it doesn’t really make a huge difference in the over all situation.
I asked a person who is a spear fisherman about it as they were telling us about the tournament. I asked if they knew what was keeping them in check in the Pacific. They said that the groupers eat them there but the groupers in the Atlantic don’t know them as dinner. The spear fishers have been feeding the dead lion fish to the groupers and they are enjoying them. The groupers are learning how to swallow them so that the poison spines don’t get caught in their system. It is hoped that they will ultimately learn to look at them as food and thus they can be controlled in the population.
It got me thinking about the poor lion fish. They didn’t ask to be transported here. They may have gotten sucked in to a boat bilge and flushed out in a different ocean or they may have been dumped out of an aquarium after getting too big for the tank. So now, this beautiful, yet potentially deadly fish is being hunted like something evil.
I realized that this is so true of so many forms of life in this world. After the hurricane that hit Punta Gorda when a lot of trees were lost, there was an effort made to try not to replant trees that were not native to the area, especially on the state park barrier islands. Cayo Costa, our favorite local place, they not only didn’t plant the large trees that had provided shade for campers but removed those that did survive because that was not what was there originally. Now who is to say what is original? They are going back a certain number of centuries but what about a thousand years ago? Why not go back to that. Maybe we would have to blow up the island as it may not have been there then? At what point do we return to to find the perfection?
We do this with plants and animals and fish. We protect the manatees in Florida but as I understand it they first came as imports to be used as available food for the people coming to this place. If you can find something someplace in time, you can go back further and find other information. The same can be said for humans. Countries try to keep purity in their racial and cultural lines, Japan comes to mind on this as does much of the Middle East for example. It seems we get all mixed up over time. Because man creates it does it make it unnatural? Is man separate from nature? Who is to say what is the correct nature to observe? It is a big question to which I don’t have the answer. It is easy to think of managing the much maligned lion fish but there seems to be a resemblance to me and you in all this. Just a thought.
I will send a wrap up once we arrive at home and get settled in enough to get something out. We are not connecting with our winlink or embarqmail but sending this out through Chat-Eau’s SSB sail mail account. We will catch up on notes to us when we get home.
Keep your weather prayers coming. They are working pretty well so far!
Sue and Rob
Sailing home aboard Chat-Eau