And there's also a story that put me off fishing for a long time. When I was a teenager I met Jean Gau, one of the post-war pioneer singlehanded circumnavigators. He was taking leave from his job as chef at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, and he was sailing Atom, a 30-foot Tahiti ketch. He was famous for having ridden out Hurricane Carrie, which sank the nearby sail-training bark Pamir, with the loss of 80 lives. Gau said he lashed Atom's tiller to leeward, stripped her of all sail, and left her to her own devices in 120 knot winds while he shut himself below.
But his fishing story concerned his crossing of the Indian Ocean, from Australia to Durban, South Africa. On this passage he grew interested a group of fish that followed Atom day after day, in the shade close under her stern. Every morning he would look for them, and soon began to recognize the bigger ones. After 10 days or so, with his fresh stores running out, Gau decided to try to catch one of them. He tempted them with a spinning lure, but none of his faithful band of followers was interested.
Then he tied a small piece of white cloth to a large hook and immediately got a taker. He hauled in a nice-sized fish and sprang into action straight away with his chef's knife. There was no point in trying to keep the whole fish because he had no refrigeration, so he expertly cut a large slice from one side and threw the fish overboard. He enjoyed a delicious fish supper that evening.
Next morning he went aft to check on his companions and there amongst them, swimming steadily along, was a fish with a large white gash where his side should have been.
Gau said that butchered fish continued to swim with Atom for another few days. "He haunted me," said Gau. "I was continually aware of him out there, keeping station so faithfully." Then all the fish disappeared together, and Atom was once more alone on the wide ocean.
Today's ThoughtCan the fish love the fisherman?
— Martial, Epigrams
TailpieceDid you hear about the sailor who drowned in a bowl of muesli? A strong currant pulled him in.
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