The Big Bug... I'm back from my sailing trip early by a few weeks. I flew to Nassau on the 31st then on to Veradero, Cuba. I arrived at the marina at 11PM in time for the New Years celebration and then I was initiated into the "Brotherhood of the Coast"!

Everyone in the marina was there and they were all very quiet the next day so I went down town to have a bite to eat...Resturants don't open till noon. Checked the beach...nothing special...lots of french Canadians...looked like a club med. Communist lunches are nothing to write home about so I won't!

The next morn we prepared to sail, on Vagabond, a 42 ft Gulfstar Ketch. Capt. Bob's friend Tom had joined the boat a few days earlier. Bob decided that he did not like Cuba and we were not going to Belize and Guatemala as planned. Our first destination, Cay Sol, an uninhabited Bahamian Island off the Cuban coast. We anchored at sunset. Then next day I swam ashore and explored a bit then went out into the surf with mask and snorkle....Soon I found a big bug inside a coral head...I made note of the location so I could come back later with a spear gun...he looked really big!

I slept on deck and dreamed about Big Bug all night. The next day I was ready to go for him. It was rough. Visibility was 3-4 feet max. He was still there...he probably lived there all his life. He was way inside a cave. I reached in with gloved hand and grabbed a feeler. He squeeked and screamed as I tried to tug him outside. Feeler broke. Shit! Grabbed another one and the tug was on again. Geez, he's a big guy....Can't hold my breath that long any more. Surf pounding me against the coral. Elbows and legs bleeding. Thoughts of sharks. The gun won't fire so I have to remove the spear and try to stab him. I can only get a glimpse of him now and then when the sand is not being sturred up by the surf. I take a break to catch my breath and explore the coral for a possible back door. Yes! I think I found it! I see legs in another hole. Perhaps I can get a body shot from here... No, nothing but legs.. I go back to the front door and tease him with the spear. He moves back. I rush to the back door and there he is. I thrust the spear into his side and hear the crunching as it goes through and hits coral on the other side. He kicks and screams and jumps and struggles. I can't let go or he may take the spear or get off it. Fear and anger for him and the excitment of the hunt for me. My heart is pounding, lungs about to explode. Another thrust and the spear barb goes through all the way. I swim around above the coral head and watch the spear thrashing around below. Let him bleed for a while and loose his strength. Let me gather my own strength.

I go down and wiggle the spear and the gyrations start again. I surface and rest. The next wiggle shows that he is tiring. A big gulp of air and down I go for the final. He is tired..not much struggle left. I pull and the barb holds. He comes to me sideways. Finally, like a Chineese puzzle, I wrench him from his cave. Geez, he is big. More kicking and screaming and thrashing, I hang on. The shot was good....clean through the body and the barb held well. I swim for shore...when I stand up I realize how tired I am..I climb up on the beach and throw off my mask and look at my victim. He looks tired too! He must be 6 pounds!

The 3 of us feast on his body and legs with peas and rice the first night. The second night we eat the tail. The day after there is still a meal left for me. The next day we headed for Bimini in the Bahamas. Just south of Miami the wind died and we had to use the engine. Noticed it was running quite hot. We shut it down and went below to find the trouble. The freshwater side of the cooling system was empty. The trouble is traced to the fresh water pump. It was leaking like crazy. We sailed as close to Miami as we could then called the Towing Company. 700 dollars later were were settled in Dinner Key Marina. We went out for supper that night and the next morn I left for Tampa in near freezing weather ..I didn't get to Guatamela or Belize as planned, but I visited my 50th country and got the Big Bug!

lyman


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