Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

The Old Man and the Sea

In Guest stories on March 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

My life was like a movie the day I went deep-sea fishing on the island of Madeira, a possession of Portugal. We were going after blue marlin, as in The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. So here was a Portuguese captain and his mate, a five-person English crew and one American. You can guess who was the American.

We went out early in the morning and the Madeira natives wished us luck. It was September, the waters of Madeira still warm enough to catch the blue marlin. I was shocked to see the blue marlin up this far north as I thought they spent all their time in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean. I knew we would have to go now or they would make their run back to the Gulf. So here we were going after them. We used very heavy poles with giant reels, and onto each hook was a phony piece of squid. I said to myself, “What a dirty trick to lure him in.”

Each pole was set onto sockets around the boat. We went trawling for what seemed like hours. We caught a giant fish. The Portuguese captain said he hadn’t seen him for days. The captain, wit his binocks, aimed at the creature and proclaimed, “Yes, it’s a blue marlin. A big one – about 400 kilos.” That would make it about 700 pounds.

With that, the line buzzed from the reel, making a whirling sound. The line spun forward. The blue marlin breached up out of the sea – like a cat that had just been shocked. The English girl who was part of the crew began screaming and running away from her pole as it was the one that was hit. I was thinking, “What a coward. I thought English girls had backbones, stiff upper lips, and that rubbish. I guess not. Anyway, we had to let the fish run. Jerking the pole would cause the fish to get away.

Eventually we landed him and brought him back to shore. We had pictures taken and then took him to the market to be sold – for Madeiran tourists’ plates. I felt sad that the fish was lost. But I did get to keep the bloody sword – which is actually the jaw of the marlin – as a souvenir.

Jeff Rubin



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