Wednesday 28 March 2012

A typical day in Paradise

I think I mentioned that I am without a camera and have to keep jumping at the chance to borrow one every time the opportunity presents itself, so I cannot post as many photos as I would like.

I have a replacement camera waiting for me in Germany but I am too tight to have it DHL'd over so am hanging on until I hear of someone trustworthy heading this way from Europe. I did take a load of photos with Joaquim's camera and then, at the end of the day, when I asked him how he downloaded his photos, he looked at me with that sort of blank look which leaves you in no doubt that what you are about to hear will be less than encouraging. I'll summarise it. Joaquim has a digital cammera but no computer or any other way of storing or sharing his photos. Since he never needed them, he has lost all cables but the charger. Bugger.

Yesterday we went fishing and I suffered a really bizarre accident.

The weather was pretty overcast and the sea that sort of slick oily swell that has you chumming it with your breakfast in no time. Joaquim was driving the boat and I was minding the rods trying to decide whether I had the energy to crawl up and lean over the side or just vomit where I lay. Joaquim, on the other hand, had munched his way through the crackers and was now busy emptying my hip flask. At that moment, one of the rods struck and the line tore off the reel. I jumped up, grabbed the rod, set the hook and then put my back into it. Now we only have a very small skiff. The sort of thing you can rent by the hour on an English pond and would never, by even the greatest stretch of the most fertile imagination expect it to be granted a seaworthiness certificate but I am a) poor, and b) a keen fisherman, so sod HSE.

Trouble was, the boat was rocking like billy-oh and on pins already weakened by age and nausea, I was about as steady as the Millenium Bridge Mark I. There are those who contend that there is no such thing as an accident (litigation lawyers love them) and that an 'incident' is merely the distillate of a series of minor events. Well, in my case, I needed only two events. The fish, still pulling line like an express train decided to double back at exactly the same moment Joaquim decided to turn into the fish to save my line and, ironically as it transpired, my back breaking effort.

Suddenly relieved of the drag I was leaning against, my feet shot out from under me and I went backwards straight over the side but not before folding myself double on the side of the boat in a manipulation my spine was never designed to cope with. Now a decent multiplier and carbon fibre boat rod is a not inconsiderable investment so I suppose I should not have been as surprised as I was when I surfaced and realised I was still hanging on to the rig like grim death. I was in agony and had inhaled half the Atlantic Ocean and then I saw Joaquime leaning over the side so I held out the rod so he could pull me in towards the boat. I got my arm over the side and he took the rod, no doubt to dump it on the deck before hauling me in.

Joaquim is, like me, mad on fishing. Abandoning me to my watery fate, he reeled in the slack and started to play the fish. He called down to me to see if I was OK. 'I can't climb in by myself, Joaquim', I called out. 'So cinco minutos', he replied. Only five minutes, a true professional.

He brought the fish in and then he landed me.

So here we go with a pictorial record of some of my day. First, our little boat:

Next, Joaquim with the only fish we caught because we had to end the trip early because I fell out of the boat breaking my back in three thousand places:

Another shot of the smug fat bastard holding what should have been my fish. I mean, I set the hook. Of all the dirty tricks to tip me overboard. Did I mention he was a complete bastard?

I ask you, does that look like a completely smashed and deformed back or what? Still, we needed to bag the fish so what is a little transitory pain especially with all those blokes around ready to take the piss?

A wash and a change of clothes later, I sit on splintered shards of vertebrae and put on a brave face.

Alex wants me to go down to the river to swim with him. I explain that Daddy has done enough swimming for today and Daddy's back really hurts. You can see Alex was deeply skeptical.

Then Marcia says she has run out of soft drinks and asks me to drive the six clicks up to the top village and buy some off the Lebanese guy. Six clicks isn't far but it will be in a truck with Brunel suspension over local roads. This stretch is the good bit. I can hit third gear briefly.

On the way, we passed Joaquim's house. How crass of me to assume he had a laptop.

Once we arrived at the top of the hill, we had a wonderful view of the valley and river estuary that is now my home.

On the way back, Joaquim finally took pity on me and said he knew of just the place I could get the urgent medical attention I so obviously needed so we stopped off.

Back at Ops HQ and unaccountably refreshed, there was little else to do but write it all up.

It's bloody hard work buildiing a restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

But, there is no peace for people like me. The sun is setting and I must now do the village water run.


  1. Man that was a great story! It sounds like both you (holding the rod) and Joaquim are quality guide material.

    I love that Joaquim doesn't have to stretch his arms so far out for the fish to look big that he teeters over. Also, he looks like holding that thing is as easy as holding a can of beer. I wouldn't go giving him too hard a time for landing your fish...

  2. Since you appear to be a man's man I wish I were a man.

    On second thought, and to rephrase: Since you appear to be a man's man I am so glad I am a woman.

    And if I were a fish I'd defy you. There isn't a bait in the world that'd hook me.

    Grey at a delicious 52?


  3. Grey at 52? I had a hard life Ursula, I got married. Twice.

    Josh, bugger the back, the main thing is he got it on board. And me as well...

  4. Priorities. Save the Abu and the Ugly Stick (not you Tom) and leave the white guy to the bull sharks. Can't fault him.

    Lovely looking girls you have there Tom. I can't speak for anyone else, but you're really selling the place to me.

    You look really healthy and radiant in these recent pics Tom. I'm not being critical, but I always thought you looked a bit gaunt in your usual pic (top right of your blog) like you had one good meal a week, lol. But you're actually quite a nice looking fella in these recent shots. Have you just bought photoshop?

    No wonder U is after you! ;-)

  5. Chris, please do get your facts right. I am not after Tom (though am in another manner of speaking). He offered to shag me not that long ago. As I didn't take him up on his generous offer immediately he now is no longer talking to me. Wouldn't you just love to be courted by him, the one short of fuse? Marcia should be so lucky.


  6. U, Tom must be used to instant gratification rather than the thrill of the chase. More fool Tom I say. ;-)

    Yes, I'd do just about anything for a decent days fishing, but I don't think I'm his type.

  7. Great yarn and thanks for the terrific images. Doesn't matter "who" caught that fish, it's a great catch and its a 'boat fish'!

  8. I'd love to see any of you out here once the place is up and running. I got myself into severe financial shit once when I was younger and as a result have an aversion to borrowing money. If I want something badly enough I can only have it if I have the cash. I pay for everything in cash, I don't even have a credit or debit card so the build here will be completed with the cash I earn. Takes longer but it means everything I have is mine and I can sleep at night even if the build will take longer than if I went to the bank for a loan.

    Ursula, the offerr to shag you still stands, I am used to being rebutted but am both patient and determined. If, during the consummation of our friendship, you insist on talking to me while I give you the best time of your life, there's always earplugs. This attitude naturally refutes Chris's contention that I am not up for the chase. I may not be able to run as fast as I could but sometimes it is as effective to bait the trap and let them come to you.

    Chris, I have had two heart attacks and was riddled with malaria, bilharzia and stress. Now that I am free of the last three afflictions, I have learnt how to take things easy and relax, allowing me to cope with the dodgy ticker.

    As far as you not being my type, you are perhaps a little young but more than make up for it with your impish charm and wicked sense of humour. The sort of attributes which, at first sight of you, would have the knickers of those girls combusting spontaneously.

    JohnD, it was the sort of fishing trip that memories are made of. If it had been Joaquim that went overboard, I would have behaved the same way and then berated him for losing my hip flask.

    As an aside, there are loads of sharks offshore, often you see them cruising around the boat but I have never heard of a single shark attack on a human.

  9. A great post, that fish is a beast! Not sure I'd be able to hold it up as easy as he makes it look!

  10. He may look like a fat bugger but old Joaquim has arms like Garth. When it was my turn he lifted me straight out of the water and dumped me on the deck as if I was no more than a (sodden) rag doll!

  11. Wonderful blog post!

    My brother was a consummate fisherman and would have behaved much the same way as Joaquim.

    As for going grey, i started at 14, although it didn't really get going with any sort of steam until i was in my 30's.

    Your back looks surprisingly unmangled in the photo.


  12. Megan!

    You can't see the distortion of the spine? The deformed vertebrae? The popped discs? The collapsed lung? The hopelessly twisted torso?

    You work as an investigator for that government department that hands out disabilty benefits, don't you?

    Hah! I've rumbled you now. I am going to tell all your neighbours. And I'll tell them that you developed an affinity for older men when you were only 14 and were a professional by 30.

  13. I think this is one of my favourite of all your posts as it lends colour to you, your family and your life...
    thank you..... I can picture things over there much much more easily!

  14. As the saying goes, Tom, i'm not a doctor and don't play one on tv. To see the collapsed lung, i'd need a front view, mind. I see you're bending at the knees and reaching out, so your back could be at that angle without pain.

    To my knowledge, the government investigators aren't usually doctors, either.

    Most of my neighbours are older than i am. If the men get their hopes up only to have them dashed, i'll let them know you're to blame.

  15. I will happily stand co-respondent and beat off all those unwelcome suitors, Megan,

    Actually, my back feels much better today so I guess the bones have knitted and I was able to smoke a whole pack of fags so clearly both lungs are functional. Just shows how tough us blokes are...

  16. Wow! You caught a pretty big fish! How many of you needed to pull that huge fish out of the water? They are a lot stronger than they look when they’re deep in the water. Is that a fish you’d regularly catch in the area? I think it would be great if you add that to the menu of that restaurant you’re planning to build. Have you started it already? All the same, I wish you the best! :D

  17. Idalia, I swung over to your site to take a look. Man, that is one nice boat you have! I would be interested to know how much you charter that one out for per day. Here you want a 30 footer for a day and it'll cost you US$ 1,000. I shudder to think what you could charge for a boat like yours.

    Answering your question, yes that was a typical fish. Last time out a few days ago we hooked eleven Jacks and put five back because they were less than 25kgs. Angolan waters have given up a disproportionate amount of record fish. Billfish are common and our Tarpon make yours look like tiddlers, 100 kgs is nothing to shout about.


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