Another Flying Fish Encounter!
What are the odds?
The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the Earth's five oceans. At 41.1 million square miles, it covers 20% of our planet. Traveling the entire length would require a 69,510 mile journey.
So what are the odds of any two boats meeting up on this massive pond?
On 5/15 we left Norfolk, Virginia for Atlantic City, New Jersey. During this 205-mile, 21-hour trip we would be sailing 5-7 miles off the coastlines of Virginia and New Jersey.
It just so happens that Ned's older brother, Richard, who lives in Pennsylvania, had been invited by friends to go Sea Bass fishing off the New Jersey shoreline on the same day. Their fishing spot was 28 miles offshore. Richard and his friends would be departing from Townsend Inlet and traveling west to their fishing hole. Meanwhile, we would be traveling north, five miles offshore, toward Atlantic City. The anglers planned to leave early in the morning, as fishermen do, and would be moving fast with the help of their twin 300 horsepower outboard motors; we would be sailing, hopefully at five knots. A chance encounter at the intersection would be theoretically possible, but unlikely.
By 10 a.m., we realized that Richard and his friends were casting fishing lines far to the east and behind us. We continued on our way.
At noon, Ned received an interesting text from Richard. "How many masts does your boat have?"
Traveler is a sloop. Sloops have a single mast and are by far the most common type of sailboat. Apparently, Richard was attempting to find us, but looking for a single-masted sailboat along the New Jersey shoreline was not going to provide much aid to narrowing the search.
There is a better way. Ned sent another text:. "We're at: 39 09.131 N Lat - 74 34.902 W Lon"
Several minutes passed and another text came in. "Look behind you."
In the distance, off our starboard stern, we saw a bow-bouncing, whitewater-spraying fishing boat speeding toward us. Within minutes, Richard and his three friends were pulling up beside Traveler.
As we continued to sail along at 5 knots, separated by a safe distance in choppy water, we shouted out a conversation. “That's a beautiful boat!” “Thanks!” “How many fish did you catch?” “Twenty-nine!”
Twenty-nine fish? At that moment, I'm quite certain that the same thought ran through the minds of the entire Traveler crew - maybe there is a chance we won't have to eat pasta tonight. This became more apparent with Sue's light-hearted comment, “I wonder if you could share a couple.” “What?” Ned was more direct, “CAN YOU GIVE US SOME FISH?!”
Generosity prevailed. Two chilled sea bass were packaged for delivery, but how was a fish delivery to occur from their boat to ours? We were sailing, they were motoring, and choppy seas separated us by 20 feet.
Ned grabbed our boat hook, but they said we’ll just throw them. Richard's friend wound up and let the fish fly. Let it be known that the first official Mid-Atlantic Fish Toss was a great success. Ned made the catch. Cheers were to be had all around.
As our entertaining and productive two-minute, mid-sea visit came to a close, Richard shouted out an insightful and encouraging line of advice to his little brother. Standing in the bow and pointing to the north, he yelled, "Just keep going that way, you're almost there!"
For dinner, our pasta was a side dish. The main course was Baked Sea Bass in a Mustard Sauce. It was delicious!