Monday, June 27, 2011

Zamami Undokai Eisa - Hana

The other photograph I wanted was a really good eisa shot.  I think this is one of three contenders for that prize:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Yo-chien Aerial

I had to miss the second day of the fishing tournament because undoukai (sports day) was being held on Zamami.  I wasn't psyched about attending, but I made the best of it and crossed some photos off my ideas list.  I've been really pleased with my ability recently to develop a shot in my head and then execute it. I got both my goal shots on Sunday plus a few bonuses.  This is a sufficient variation on my first goal shot:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Champion Prizes

We had a party on Zamami last night at the captain's restaurant to celebrate our winning of the 2011 Sam's Cup Billfish Tournament.  Here's the prize haul we had to stuff in a car, then take on the ferry to get back to Zamami:


There's three cases of American beer, a folding bike, a fan, beer-branded mini coolers, a marlin print, three trophies, rice, gift certificates for rice, a g.c. for a night at a fancy resort, $100 in g.c. to a steak restaurant, a nice kariyushi/aloha shirt, a resin head for a trolling lure (that says "Sam's Cup 2011 Champion), fishing line, a Penn International 50 reel, various jewelry and makeup, a sleeping bag, a big folding sun tent, a rolling box, and a stuffed marlin.


[the really good prize - worth around $1000]


[I didn't really want any of the prizes because I don't need any of them, but this awesome shirt was in size XL which is about three sizes too big for any other team member, so it went to me.  Despite the tackiness, it's actually from an expensive Okinawa aloha shirt maker (Paikaji)]

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Marlin Cleaning and Party

The two-hour return trip from the weigh-in on Sunday was spent cutting up the four marlin.  It was a lot of work that took six of us most of the trip to accomplish.   It took awhile to unbend my body from the hunched over position when I finally cut the last chunk of fish off the spine.  From there I had to pick hunks of fish from my leg hair, shorts, and head hair (there were three pieces about the size of a fingernail that I pulled out).  Blood was everywhere and has taken two-three showers to get off my skin.

[it's hard enough cleaning 900+ pounds of marlin on a moving boat after two full days of fishing, but try doing it in the dark (there were no outside boat lights)] 

Once we got back to Zamami we had to transfer all the marlin out of the coolers on the boat and into land coolers, which means it had to be moved individually (because we can't pick up a 500lb. cooler).  Then the boat had to be thoroughly washed down/cleaned.  Then the fish (now on land) had to be iced, which means it had to be moved again.  Then we finally got around to dinner at 10pm and I didn't get to bed until close to 1am.

We attended the party last night, where I learned at the last minute that we actually didn't know for sure we'd won.  So they counted down from 40 to number one and when number two was called (they had ~350kg, we had ~426kg) we were certain, and elated.  I had to give the 'winning team's speech' because the captain said if I didn't then he wouldn't invite me to go out anymore.  The haul of prizes we won was pretty epic.  We're having a Zamami-based party tonight so I'll get some pictures of the prizes and post them tomorrow.  This is the second time we've won this tournament in the last four years.

[Two guys are missing and the girl in the lower left didn't participate - she's the captain's daughter]

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sam's Cup 2011

The annual billfish tournament (Sam's Cup) was this weekend.  It began at 6am Saturday morning with a shotgun start at Ginowan Marina on the Okinawa mainland.  It took 1.5 hours to reach the fishing grounds so I wisely used that time to nap as my previous night spent on the boat was interrupted every 20-30 minutes by mosquitos.

We started fishing at 7:30am and had our first hookup around 10am.  I lost the three-way janken (rock, paper, scissors) game to determine who reeled in the first, second, and third marlin, so I got to be the leader handler at the end of this 40-minute fight:

The second fish was a mahi-mahi, so that put me in line for the next fish, which turned out to be a marlin.  But it was incredibly weak and I brought it to the boat less than 10 minutes after it hit.  I think it was 75kg.  There are two categories in the tournament: biggest fish and most cumulative weight, so this fish was important for the latter category.

The next series of events is an example of why we are so serious about keeping lines in the water while we're fishing.  Before taking the gaffs or spears or even the lure out of the caught marlin we set the trolling rig back up.  Less than five minutes later, before we could even put ice on my marlin, we had another strike.  This one turned out to be ~132kg and I was again the leader handler.  Watch at 44 seconds where I freak out a little as I feel the loose line touching my neck.  Hand-lining the marlin is the most dangerous job of the fight for a few reasons, but mostly because you are creating slack in a 10m piece of nylon and that line needs to go somewhere safe but also not get caught on anything in case the fish decides to run again.  Getting a coil wrapped around a body part with a big marlin on the other end could be a death sentence.

[credit to Akiko for the awesome videos]

We came back to Zamami at 5:30pm and decided to put all of these marlin inside a walk-in refrigerator (because we couldn't come up with enough ice).

Unfortunately today was Zamami's undokai (sports day), which I sort of have to attend since I'm a teacher.  So I couldn't go fishing.  But they caught another ~85kg marlin today to add to our total weight, then came back to Zamami at 3:30pm to pick up the refrigerated marlin and me.  I went along to Ginowan for the weigh-in, which was exciting and long.  We ended up with 426kg (939lbs) of combined marlin between our four catches.  This won us first prize for the overall weight category, which marks the second time in four years we've taken that trophy!  (out of 40 teams.)

And as if we all weren't already tired enough from the weekend, we had to cut up four marlin on the boat trip back to Zamami, 30% of which was in the dark.  There was blood, fish slime, and small sashimi pieces everywhere (including three in my hair).  We ended up with an enormous amount of fish, two pieces of which are crying out to me from my sink to be skinned, cleaned and frozen.

Since I went to sports day today I get tomorrow off, so I plan to go to Naha with the captain and one or two others to attend the awards ceremony/closing party tomorrow night.

These marlin are numbers 16-20 for this year alone (previous record was 15) and #94-98 for Yukibo's (captain) career on Zamami.  I still hold the number two position with the 188kg marlin I caught in this tournament four years ago.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sabani Practice

The Sabani Race is in two weeks so this was my team's annual practice weekend.  I went on a 12-hour marlin fishing trip yesterday (no hits), so I could only practice today.  But I spent the whole morning practice looking through my polarized sunglasses at the turquoise water thinking about what great photos I could be making.  So in the afternoon I requested 30 minutes in the support boat to photograph, then to be traded into the sabani boat for practice.  But I never traded in and instead photographed for 80 minutes.  I still have to sort through most of the 500+ shots, but it's looking pretty good that I finally nailed a good Sabani shot.  More to come this week..

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Night on Aka

One of my friends from the mainland (who served in the Peace Corps with me ten years ago!) came to Aka Island yesterday with his family and stayed at a place I recommended.  The couple who own this hotel have a pretty solid grasp of English and are doing everything they can to make their kids fluent, including inviting me over for the night (and it was convenient because I am teaching on Aka this week).  In fact when I arrived the mother informed me of the one rule I needed to follow as an invited guest: I could only speak English.  
It was really a lot of fun and gave me a better feel for the English level of their older boy, who is in 6th grade and has already passed a high school level English test.  The mother (Ai) was very firm in her invitation for me to come back and said that next time I teach on Aka and Geruma I can just stay at their hotel for the two-week stint.  I had so much fun I may take them up on a night or two.

[that cinnamon bread was my gift to them for having me]

[the view from the deck and my room just off to the right, which Ai referred to as my 'second home']

Monday, June 6, 2011

Asa Panorama

I've never done a stitched photo before so after watching a how-to video last week I was anxious to try.  I picked this spot on the other side of the island that has held some intrigue to me for awhile.  It was a long walk from the nearest road, but not so bad at low tide.  You can see it has a lot of potential on a more beautiful day this summer.  This is a ~180 degree composite of 10 photos (for a total of 245mb!):

[click to make it bigger]

Sunday, June 5, 2011

6/4 Fishing

Went marlin fishing yesterday but had no marlin hits.  Mid-day we went a little south an underwater fish attractant device (payao) and trolled around to catch some small fish for sashimi for the after parties of yesterday's baseball tournament.  It was just the captain, me, and Miho:

The most interesting part of the day involved her and this bucket of blood-water:

When we pull the small tuna out of the water we immediately tear their gills at the base to bleed them out because it's supposed to make the sashimi taste better?  We do this in the above bucket, which starts as saltwater but quickly turns red.  Once we caught two fish at the same time.  Miho was holding her fish in the bucket, so I tore the gills on mine and dropped it in to hurry and get the lures back in the water.  Buuut, sometimes when the fish die they convulse violently.  Mine did this as soon as I let it go, creating an explosion effect and spraying blood water all over Miho.  She looked up at me, blood dripping down her face, and uttered the most perfectly slow "Deeebiitoooo".

[After trolling at the payao we brought in this trolling lure and saw something mean ate the hook off of it - mostly likely a wahoo  (though we did see two hammerhead sharks! (but they don't hit these lures))]

[mahi mahi, bonito, and yellowfin tuna]

Friday, June 3, 2011

Prehistoric Decapitation

Fresh off reading ReBekha's post about all the dead birds she found on the day after the typhoon, I took more seconds than I am comfortable admitting to realize that this baby dinosaur is made of plastic:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Furuzamami Fishermen

I've always shied away from clicking "convert to grayscale" because I don't like it when people just convert their regular 'ole photos into b&w to make them look artsy.  But I've done a little study lately into purposeful b&w processing so maybe I'll start posting them more than once/year.