We were walking down the dock the other afternoon and a panga had tied up to the dock. The folks on the panga were busy cleaning fish, lots of fish. We’re talking Tuna and Dorado — the pinnacle of fish for fine dining, beautiful creatures being filleted with expert hands.
Those hands were attached to a lovely lady who,with a big smile and broken english/spanish, explained that they were available for charter, for us. No marital huddle necessary, no exchanging does this sound good? kind of communications between us, only a simultaneous, unanimous, “Oh hell yea.”
As it was hurricane eve, we set it up for Saturday, (tomorrow) when we all thought the weather would be more agreeable and an adventure could be had. So now we’ve been thinking about it, Gayle defrosted the freezer expecting to fill it up. We cleaned up the ice chest and have it ready to deploy. We were grilling previously frozen chicken thighs as we know we’ll need the freezer space.
While standing on the aft deck cooking chicken thighs (in a lemon pepper marinade), we saw our fishing charter buds pull up with a promising load of fish. We walked over, looked into the boat and saw that there were tuna stacked everywhere. For the uninitiated, a Tuna is about as long as a 3 year old, and weighs about the same.
Amid lots of laughter and hard work, the crew and boat owners were busy filleting the fish and filling up freezer bags. We went by to admire the catch, reverifiying our trip for tomorrow. One of the reasons we said ‘yes’ to this particular group was the easy going comradare and general feeling that we would have a good time fishing with this family. Gayle and the lady of the boat shared some laughs and there was lots of talk of cervesas, and making fun of each other being drunk and driving the boat in circles.
As the lady of the boat was covered in fish blood, knife in hand, slicing and dicing, Gayle decided to take her a cold beer. None for the boys. They pretended to have hurt feelings and lots more laughter. Good idea.
During all of this, we were cooking chicken on the grill (in a skillet, hence, cooking as opposed to grilling), watching the activity on the dock. It was clear there is a buddy system at work here. Those boat boys, the ones who wash the same boats day after day for pesos were coming away with nice little bags of filleted fish. Others, walked up and exchanged money for similar bags of fish.
It brought back memories of earlier times, on the gulf coast of Texas. Beer for fish, money for fish, smiles for fish. Lots of laughter and plenty of fun.
The captain of the boat saw us and knew that we were chartering the next day. He came up and suggested we keep the grill going. A couple minutes later he showed up with two really nice fillets of Tuna in hand. I snatched those two fillets out of his hands and had them on the grill in a moment, a few minutes later we flipped the pieces over, lovely tuna meat, delicate, layered and ready for eating.
By now, we had way more food than we could eat, what with the chicken and now the fresh fish. So we did what we always have done, shared with our friends. We kept some of that divine Tuna, hot off the grill, and put the rest of it on plates which we delivered to our new friends.
Keep in mind, they have been fishing all day, cleaning fish all night with only a beer or two for refreshment. They all enjoyed the freshly cooked fish while continuing to cut up the remaining catch. I think we may have made some new friends.
Tomorrow’s fishing trip may turn out to be a pretty special event. So watch for more stories to come and I’ll let you know how the day went.