Water Sports

No Bananas

bananaBy Anthony Taylor

“You should eat something,” said Juan. It was now 2:00 in the afternoon and I’d been feeling sea-sick all morning and not touched a thing. “You’re right. I think I’ll have my banana,” I replied.

“Your what? A banana!,” he exclaimed. At that moment the whole crew of Below Me, all seven of them, spun round and stared at me in complete disbelief. “Quick, where is it? Get it off the boat fast! Oh, I don’t believe it, no wonder,” the cries went up from all of them in a cacophony of complaint and despair. I held up the offending item for a split second before it was grabbed and cast overboard with the zeal of a Major League pitcher.

For the next 10 minutes, it was carefully and politely explained–along, of course, with some half serious ideas about what should happen to transgressors–that bringing a banana on a fishing boat was just about as bad luck as you could get. This would seem to have been true, as about an hour earlier we caught and then lost, what was estimated to be a 250+ pound blue marlin–at the time the crew’s only bite from two previous days of fishing! With my lesson learnt, I looked at Juan: “Er, guys,” I said sheepishly, “I brought two . . .”

That morning it was a Monday on Providenciales, and a public holiday at that, so it was with some mild annoyance to say the least, that my girlfriend woke me and, in no uncertain terms, asked me to turn off the alarm clock on my side of the bed. It was 5:30 AM. I had been invited by Carter Takacs to spend the day on his fishing boat, Below Me, which was taking part in the annual Turks & Caicos Classic Billfish Tournament. The night before, Carter had given me two pieces of sound advice: “Don’t be late, we leave at 7:00 AM, and have some breakfast.” The alarm ensured I wasn’t, and I did.

On arriving at the boat I was met by Roger, an old hand at sport fishing and longtime friend of Carter’s, and helped him in setting up the boat and getting ice for the all important beer. By 7:15, Carter had arrived along with Brian and Steve, so I was dispatched to nearby Turtle Cove Inn to raise Andreas, co-owner of the boat, and Juan, from their slumbers after a heavy night of telling fishing stories at the Tiki Hut.

With everyone finally press-ganged into action and onboard, we set off. Carter was at the helm while the rest tucked into the scrambled eggs and hash browns Steve’s wife Mary had prepared. I passed on the offer, a decision I was shortly to be thankful for. Within half an hour of passing the reef, my machismo in turning down my girlfriend’s offer of sea-sickness pills was fading as fast as I was turning green.

The next few hours passed slowly in a haze of sea-sickness and frustration at watching the rest of the guys have a great morning of eating, drinking and good old-fashioned banter. (Some of it, it has to be said, at my expense!)

It seems that big game fishing is about 95% waiting and 5% action. Thankfully, one of the benefits of fishing in the deep blue waters around the Turks & Caicos, voted as one of the top 20 blue marlin sites in the world by Sport Fishing magazine, is that there is always something to catch.

Indeed, there are at least three experienced sport fishing charter operators on Provo, who will be delighted to take both the experienced and first timers on full or half day trips. As the first-timer on this trip I hadn’t appreciated just how fast the calm can be broken when the marlin takes one of the big lures trailing behind the boat. I was lying on my back gazing at the ceiling and feeling a little better when there was a click and one of the reels starting whizzing and losing line. “Fish in the spread,” the cry went up and within seconds the boat exploded in a maelstrom of activity. “I’m in the chair,” shouted Andreas as he dexterously hopped in, avoiding rods and lines. The other crew members cleared the other lines and handed the now ensconced Andreas the rod on which our first, and as it turned out, only, catch of the day was battling strongly, jumping, turning and twisting in the air about 30 metres back from the boat.

All this happened so fast, I barely had time to sit up straight and grab my camera to shoot the action before it was all over. After only a couple of minutes the fish had managed to slip the hook and get away. Juan, Andreas and the rest were disconsolate after seeing their only catch in two and half days of fishing disappear in an explosion of white water. An hour or so later of course, their bad luck was being blamed on me and my bananas.

The rest of the afternoon passed uneventfully, which was all the more frustrating as over the radio we could hear the other boats in the competition calling in to register a catch. Some, like us that day, lost their fish but we listened as Brian Belvin on the Lady Suzanne battled with what turned out to be an almost 500 pound marlin for an incredible six hours.

Back on the dock with the boat hosed down and cleaned up, I was saying my good-byes to the guys and thanking them for an excellent day when Carter thrust a yellow raincoat into my hands with the words: “Where do you think you’re going?” Several minutes later, and to the amusement of the rest of the guys and many on the dock, my fate was complete as I swung upside down from a nearby pole dressed in my yellow mack holding a sign that could say only one thing.

So for anyone thinking of going sport fishing, I’d highly recommend it. It’s great fun and a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a day. Just remember the sea-sickness tablets, plenty of cold beer and . . . NO BANANAS!

Despite asking numerous fishermen, it seems no one can explain why bananas on a fishing boat are bad luck. It appears to be another old wive’s tale. Sorry, wives.

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