Big Fish! The One that Got Away. | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Big Fish! The One that Got Away.

Here is a weird story! (but its totally true and happened this week!)

A fisherman is out fishing on a sunny Caribbean day. He has a handline and 2 hooks with fish heads for bait. He is looking for a big fish.

After a while he feels a hard strike. This must be something big! He plays the fish... its HUGE! Perhaps he get a view of this beauty, almost three feet long. Looks like a very large snapper. But playing it for a while this large fish finally breaks away. Line snapped, bait and fish gone!!

Then what? That’s the last the fisherman knows - the one that got away!

Fast-forward a day or so (to yesterday)...

It’s a crystal blue sky day, where the turquoise water of the bay where we are anchored in the British Virgin Islands looks so inviting....

I grab my mask and snorkel, jump off the stern of Distant Shores II to swim to the nearby reef. But before I go I take a look at our hull and see what looks like a fishing line apparently wrapped around our propeller.

When I swim down to look I find a huge fish hiding behind our keel and prop. There is a hook in his mouth and a second hook with bait and sinker dangling from the first on 3 feet of line.


You can see the second baited hook hanging directly under the fish’s mouth.


He looks like a large dog snapper. They grow up to 2.5 feet. This one is full grown (comparing to our rudder just behind him).


He gets nervous with me there and swims forward to hide behind our keel. It’s tough to swim with a weighted hook dangling from his mouth... (don’t worry, this story has a happy ending!)

fish in keel2
Hiding behind the keel...
fish in keel4

Now perhaps the weirdest part of the story... how a lifting keel saved a dog snapper!

I swim down to check and he’s gone!

But no! He has found our keel housing, the place where our keel swings up into the bottom of the boat’s hull when we lift it. The cavity is 2.5 meters long and just wide enough for this large fish to slip inside. Here he is well up in the keel housing with the other baited hook still dangling out.
fish in keel1

As he tries to back out from the keel well, he comes on the other side of the keel lifting pennant. So now the fish plus hook, line and sinker is tangled around our keel mechanism. Who would dream this could ever happen?

But it finally gives him something to pull on and he pulls out the hook!

fish escapes

The last I see is him swimming away free - you can see the second hook dangling on the left... (told you there was a happy ending)

Now there is one hook, bait and sinker dangling from the keel, and another hook caught around our keel mechanism!

So today’s boat project is to clear out the tangle.

Imagine if I hadn’t seen all this unfold... We’d lift the boat for a haul out/bottom painting, and find a fishing lure and line wrapped around our keel?! How the heck did that happen??

Since I was carrying one of our underwater video cameras, all this is recorded and will be featured in Season 10 of the Distant Shores Television series. Check out some of our other adventures on DVD and download at

Paul & Sheryl
Aboard Distant Shores II, BVI
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