Panama: First Marlin and Bottles of RumMay 12, 2012
If it is diesel fuel that provides the combustion to power the sport boats in their daily quest about the blue water, it is rum that lubricates the mind and body of the fisherman. Perhaps no other beverage has been so linked to life on the high seas, linked in metaphor and fact to the characteristic swagger of the men who have spent their lives about the sea. So it has been that names such as Henry Morgan, Francis Drake, and Blackbeard—captains and pirates of old, have given way to captains and fishermen aboard gel-coated, teak-inlayed fishing boats. Fighting chairs, tuna towers and outriggers have taken the place of crow’s nests, jolly rogers, and gang planks.
The centrality of rum to life on the ocean has been noted by such literary men as Robert Louis Stevenson and Ernest Hemingway. These names and those of other chroniclers of the past have given way to editors of fishing magazines and men whose love of fishing and capacity with the keyboard have merged to create livelihoods related to techniques and reports on the art of fishing. But even with all the changes and evolution brought about by technology, rum still maintains a position of social and cultural centrality to the man of the sea. Next time you are at a fishing tournament or trade show, upon seeing one of these men, they are likely as not to have a Tervis tumbler full of rum drink in one hand or other. If you ask nicely enough, they will also know somebody nearby who can outfit you with one as well.
Rum drinks and marlin fishing are in many ways one in the same. If you undertake either long enough, you are likely to come away with stories that seem to only be able to be true in relation to the activity. If you undertake both at the same time often enough, the stories are likely to grow even more fantastical.
The Pacific Provider is marlin fishing in Panama. We are getting on the fish and having fun. As with most things, we are not the first people to catch marlin in Panama. We are certainly not the first bunch of fishermen to have bottles of rum behind the bar. As we move forward, we make progress and evolve. In doing so, we look to the past for example and for guidance. Life at sea and rum drinks seem to make pretty good sense, there are hundreds of years of maritime history attests to this. Add marlin fishing to the equation and you have on your hands something that is really, really good. And so it is, we have a new tradition in the West Coast Fishing Club in Panama.
If you catch your first marlin while fishing with us, we’ll send you home with a bottle of Panamanian rum signed by the captain and mates, listing the date, location, size of fish and name of the boat. Last night we gave away three signed bottles of rum. Aboard the San Miguel it was Hans Klappenegger who was deflowered by a black of 400 pounds. Hans and his father Seppi are living the dream. Hans caught a 180 pound yellowfin, Seppi caught a 95 pound tuna on a popper. They are back at it today. Aboard the Sula Sula it was Ian Wallace who got his first. It was a blue of 450 pounds that jumped and greyhounded and put on a display that could have easily resulted in a “marlin jumping into the cockpit” type of thing if were not for some expert boat driving by Captain Donar. On the Backatawn Frank Taggert got a black of 550 or so. He has been after his marlin for six years. The tuna are thick now too. Awesome.
Yesterday we had three guests catch the first marlin of their lives. None of them will forget the experience. They were all presented with bottles of rum at dinner to the rousing applause and hollering of their buddies. Somehow this scene just feels right. Marlin fishing and rum drinks seem cosmically and historical connected.
The staff asked, “What happens if we run out of rum?” The inquisitor seemed worried that if we keep catching anglers the first marlin of their lives that we might run out of rum. I replied, “If we run low, we will order more.” We have plenty of rum aboard. We are ready for lots of first marlin or second or fourth or 100th marlin. Running out of bottles of because too many anglers caught the first marlin of their lives…. This is what you call a high class problem.
Below is Jessica’s account of the day…
Today was a great day out here in Coiba. The bite started off slow in the morning, but by high noon there was lots of fish to be caught. Both the San Miguel and Sula Sula had a Marlin apiece today. The day was filled with big tuna, sails and dorados.
Check out some of the shots:
Nice little sail today.
Don on Sula Sula reeling in his nice tuna!
Ian, Andres, Richard and Don posing with this nice size tuna.
Ian fighting his first Marlin ever!
Safely tagged and released!
Ian, Dan and Andres back at the ship. Looks like we will be eating tuna for the rest of the month!
The boys all smiles after a great day. All their hard work is paying off!
Ian and Frank….get their first Marlin fish Abuelo bottle awards!
The boys coming in to wish congradulations.
The boys of the Sula Sula and San Miguel pose with first time Marlin anglers Han’s, Ian and Frank!
Congrats guys on such an amazing day!