01-Jan-2005 -- This was a very special line-hunting trip for the Yip-Bannicq group. It was the first time all members of the group were all present and joined by a good friend – Mike Bloem. It was also our first line-hunting trip in the Southern Hemisphere. The only regret is that, we were not able to reach the point due to an uncooperative boat captain.
What truly made this trip extra special was the fact that Sierra had long planned to release some captured sea turtles after she had learned about the turtle rescue operation during our previous year’s visit. She had saved enough money during 2004, and through the kind arrangement of our good friend Annabelle of Aquamarine Diving, six endangered green sea turtles, weighting about 15-20 kg each, had been ransomed from fishermen to be returned to the ocean on our last day of holiday in Bali. Annabelle had also arranged for a boat and we were planning to release the sea turtles right at 9S 115E. This would make the line-hunting trip very meaningful indeed.
After several days of rain, the New Year Day turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. Pak Wayan of Aquamarine drove us to the village near the southern end of Bali with the 6 restless turtles in plastic containers. From where we got on the boat, the straight line distance to the CP was 42 km, and looking at the size of the boat engines, we estimated that it probably would take us about an hour and a half to reach it.
After a good start, going at 20 km/hour for a while, the boat captain started to move very slowly making the boat swaying with the swell. This gave us the impression that the conditions were not suitable to go at a higher speed. Some of us, including Sierra were starting to feel sea sick, and the other members of the hunting party were getting restless. After more than 2 hours, we were still about 18 km from the CP, That’s when a sense of mutiny in the air arose. Under great duress, Ray agreed that it was not possible to make it to the CP and back in the time frame we had and it was best to release the turtle.
The turtle release was a great moment. It was incredible to see each one of them fly back into the ocean. The first five just went straight in and disappeared. The last, and the largest of all, after splashing into the ocean, came back up to the surface and looked back as he swam away. Sierra had every reason to be proud to see that her savings had set 6 sea turtles free, a better fate than ending up on somebody’s dining table.
As soon as the turtles were released, the captain opened up the throttle, and the boat started to move smoothly at 35 km/h. In less than an hour we were back to where we had started. We realized then that we had been manipulated by the captain to abandon our 2nd objective of the trip – a visit to the CP. Probably he was trying to save some fuel.
All in all, this was still by far one the most special line-hunting trip we have done. This was our first hunt on the ocean and in comparison to other land-based line hunting, it was not anywhere as challenging. This CP should not be hard to reach, any reasonable size boat with a reliable engine could get there, providing the boat captain is agreeable. With the turtle freeing part, this could be a lot of fun.
At the end of this year, when we return to Bali, as we usually do, Ray is planning to travel to another island to hunt for a point on the land.