I know , I know. It’s been awhile. A long while. Since I’ve written an edition , that is. I’ve had the urge (who hasn’t from time to time) to knock one out but then the feeling has just as quickly passed only to be replaced by my alter ego, Mr Lackadaisical .
But there are still some things that can re-energise my creative juices (just humour me please ) and yesterday I was fortunate to experience such a catalyst.
What could it have been, you’re thinking. You weren’t ? Well, why not! Oh. You knew I was going to tell you anyway. OK, so I shall.
Every year in Belize a Reef Week is held. Reef Week promotes , and has as its goal, sustainability within the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef . Events are held throughout Belize including one that for the last few years I have wanted to attend. The Lionfish Tournament and Cook Off.
Actually I attended part of it last year – when the divers come ashore with their catches – as a guest for the Cook Off at Estel’s Dine By the Sea. But I’ve really wanted to accompany a team of spear divers and last Friday I got my wish when Dylan (Rose’s nephew who is staying with us for a couple of weeks ) and I were kindly allowed to go out with the team representing Ramon’s Village Divers .
It meant an early start but , as longtime readers will know , I’m an early riser and I still had time to enjoy a mug of coffee – instant, black and unsweetened- on the veranda – the western, lagoon facing one – before Dylan and I set off for ‘Town for our 05.45 hours ‘appointment ‘ at Ramon’s Village Resort’s dock.
When we arrived the team were already there and preparing for the tournament. We boarded our boat just in time to see a group of divers set of for the Blue Hole.
Embarking on the long trip to the Blue Hole.
Next to go was us but not before we’d stored our gear.
“Get the beer in the cool box Dylan”.
“Goodbye San Pedro”.
We headed south for over an hour and then the guys started to get ready for their first dive.
Rolando aka Rayo.
Chris chooses his spear for the first dive.
And away they go!
And then it was time for Edgar and Johnny.
Johnny about to submerge.
Edgar joins him.
Around an hour later Rayo and Chris ascended with their catch.
Not as many as we had expected. But Rick (Rick is the Manager of Ramon’s Village Divers ) pointed out that we should take this as a positive sign. I didn’t understand what he meant and the expression on my face must have conveyed this because Rick then explained that a small catch tends to indicate that the constant (most dive operators take the opportunity to catch Lionfish on every dive ) culling is having a positive effect.
Edgar and Johnny broke surface around 10 minutes later with their catches.
With the team back onboard for surface interval time the fishing rods came out.
And Rick got a go too!
And he showed his ‘boys’ how it is done !
Dylan then had his first stab at sea fishing.
Taking advice from Rick.
And he’s hooked one.
Doesn’t he look pleased with himself.
For each of the guys’ remains three dives we moved position getting ever closer to the Reef.
Low tide and the Reef is exposed.
Just look at the happiness on Chris’ face.
With the final dive the guys took the total of Lionfish caught up to one hundred and thoughts now turned to the next stage. The filleting contest.
Rayo honing his knife for action watched upon by Joshua our boat Captain (taking a well earned break ) for the day.
When we got to Estel’s – this is where the judging and filleting contest takes place – it became obvious that we were not going to finish in first place.
The Amigos Del Mar Dive Shop haul.
We found out later that the Amigos’ dive team only took three dives to rid the sea of these predators. Four hundred and fifteen of them! Each diver spearing aa average of a whopping thirty-four Lionfish on each dive.
We (see how I cleverly included myself in the team) didn’t spear the most but did catch the biggest.
Well done Rayo, Chris, Edgar, Johnny and Joshua. Third biggest catch and biggest fish. And well done to the other teams too.
And thank you Rick for a lovely day .
Note to self : learn to spearfish without spearing myself !
Oh, the headline for today’s edition is based on the single released by Bill Withers in 1977 which reached number 30 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Number 7 on the UK Singles Chart.