Before there are any fisherman’s tales, you need a boat. This came in the form of ‘Pandu’, the 21-foot-long pride and joy of my father’s. His affections have now been transferred from his car to the boat. First came the preparation work, the boat was placed in the car park adjacent to our apartment. Armed with sandpaper, paintbrushes and blisters, it wasn’t long before it was ready to be taken to the water in Kempton’s boatyard at Mombasa Sea Angling Club. Here, our little boat was moored near two beautiful motor cruisers owned by the two prominent families in Kenya.
Out of my father’s three children, it seemed that I was the only one willing to get up before sunrise, a habit I am glad to say I’ve grown out of.
We would use the twin 16 horsepower engines to motor about five miles up the coast or out into the deep waters of the Indian Ocean. Lying at the bottom of a trough, our little craft was dwarfed by the waves and many a time I wished for a ‘bigger boat’.
Two rods were set out with their lines trailing behind us. When a reel screamed, one of us would put on a harness and sit in a swivel chair, this marked the start of a long haul to reel in the fish.
After an hour of fighting the magnificent leaping sailfish, my father finally subdued it and brought it alongside the boat. I kept out of the way by sitting on the cabin roof while dad’s friend gaffed the poor creature. Unfortunately for me, a spurt of blood streaked across the boat and directly into my open mouth.
I too had a rod and caught a few smaller but powerful fish, strong enough to drag me overboard. Tunny and wahoo were amongst the many fish landed, but if you had a barracuda, you cut the line, (they have razor sharp teeth).
Even my mum managed to catch a wahoo to take a club prize.
Sometimes we just cruised along with porpoises swimming under our bows and flying fish gliding over our heads. We were lucky to sail between two basking sharks and as I reached down to the waterline, I could almost touch the 35-foot leviathans.
There was a story of a record-breaking shark caught in a 14-foot open boat. After pulling the craft miles out to sea and seven hours later, the fisherman managed to tame it. The shark was bigger than the boat and could not be brought onboard, so the unfortunate beast was strapped to the side.
A more gruesome tale was the discovery of a man floating in the water. As rescuers pulled him onboard and to their horror, the lower half of his body had been eaten by sharks. This fish took revenge and bit back.