Hooks, lines, sinkers, nets, floats, captain and crew; the Skipper and Gilligan (me) are now plying the waters for fish.
A few days ago, my wife documented the interesting native Filipino ‘christening’ and maiden voyage of the Hang Out Express.
That’s the name of the 20-foot-long, newly hand-built, motorized, wooden, outrigger boat that we helped finance.
Pandemic fishing plans
Food, finance, & freedom
The handsome new watercraft was built over the last month by our friend ‘Bong Bong’ (Ernesto) in the garage space below our apartment at the Hangout Beach Resort here in Malay, Aklan, Panay, Philippines.
It was neat to see the daily boat-building progress. And I remain amazed at the skill and perseverance Bong Bong – the Hangout Resort handyman – displayed in single handedly turning a salvaged ‘keel’, junk motor, and pile of wood pieces into the nicest looking boat on our beach.
Now the boat is properly registered and licensed for use. And the fishing has begun. In fact, Ellie and I were part of one of the first fishing expeditions.
The general plan has always been to get a boat and catch fish to help feed the other dozen folks who are staying at the Hangout Resort during the coronavirus crisis. Yolly, the Hangout owner, has graciously taken them in as jobs and incomes tied to the nearby tourist island of Boracay have disappeared.
In addition, it’s hoped that any ‘extra’ catch might be sold to help create some cash flow during these tough times.
We’re not the only ones: I know of two other small outrigger boats currently under construction nearby. Sadly, locals are further ‘adjusting’ to the long-term realities of the new COVID world.
The 3-hour tour
Our christening present to Bong Bong included hundreds of feet of extra-strength fishing line and boxes of hooks – and a heavy-duty rechargeable flashlight for night fishing. We didn’t require any of that for our initial fishing trip.
In fact, Ellie isn’t really interested in fishing — so the three of us first took a short joyride in the boat.
After zooming around the sea in front of our temporary resort home, Bong Bong and I dropped El back at the beach. Then he and I we went out to try our luck.
The results: meager. It was a disappointing beginning – but still great fun. It reminded me of my days as a boat owner and frequent fisherman back home on Lake Erie in the 1990s. I gave up after a few years.
But at least we did catch something. Bong Bong landed a nice, bright red Lapu Lapu fish. And eventually, I pulled in (then released) a tiny creature that I called ‘a guppy’.
The adventure took place in the waters offshore of our resort – maybe two miles out – actually, closer to Boracay. There were a handful of other small fishing boats there. And we do see the more experienced ‘professionals’ fishing in the evenings in the same area. We repositioned the Hang Out Express twice and tried for three hours in total.
Our efforts were made with single line and hook – no pole. Rods and reels are an unnecessary expense here. Nylon line is instead wrapped around a used plastic soda bottle or wooden spool. Small minnows/sardines are the bait. We did have lots of nibbles and thefts of our live lures.
The fishing future
Thankfully, Bong Bong has the equipment needed for more serious and productive fishing trips in the future. I may be involved at some point – but I’ll probably just stay out of the way.
The nets and long drift lines require practice and patience and skill. And undoubtedly, Bong Bong will learn and perfect the craft. There are many lifelong Filipino fisherman living here along the beach and I’ve seen Bong Bong in extensive conversation with them. He certainly doesn’t need idiot Gilligan mucking things up.
Indeed, we noticed public pictures on Facebook of Bong Bong’s latest catch – before cooking. It’s fabulous to see the bounty growing, Bong Bong’s work paying off, and the fishing plans coming to fruition.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!
Thanks for reading, “Pandemic fishing plans with ‘Hang Out Express’.”
Earth Vagabonds: Slow travel in early retirement since 2015. Every month archived below.