Gulf of Mexico, Mexico - Daniel Cook
I am Daniel Crook from Scarborough Ontario and over the course of my life; I have had many significant experiences demonstrating the power of water including swimming in rapids, fishing in a tornado, and getting stranded on various occasions in boats. One experience however, has given me the ultimate respect for the ocean.
In March of the year 2012, my best friend Ryan Cheung and I decided to take a vacation to Mexico before moving out west to Alberta to work in the forestry industry.We ended up flying in and staying at the Royal Sands resort in Cancun, which was a very clean and welcoming resort that out-looked a beautiful white sand beach. The weather for our stay was sunny and breezy, but overall very nice. Both of us being die-hard fishermen, decided that we had to sample what the waters in the lower Gulf of Mexico had to offer. We booked a whole day fishing trip at the beginning of our stay in Mexico, but each day the trip got postponed due to high wind and heavy waves. Finally, with only 3 days left on our trip we got a call early in the morning saying the water is good for fishing, and it was time to head out.
We arrived at the docks where the boat was to depart, signed a waiver form, and made our paper bag lunches. The water was a beautiful turquoise green colour, calm like glass and crystal clear. All in all it seemed like a perfect morning to head out to catch a giant. We boarded the boat; a 40 ft long boat with a back fishing deck, and an inside cabin with 2 seats bolted to the floor, and an outer-upper cab where the captain sat and controlled the boat. We were on board with 2 other fishermen (Scottish lads about our age), 2 Mexican deckhands, and the captain himself. As the boat set off, Ryan and I went into the interior cab and sat in the 2 chairs, excited for our beautiful day of fishing……or so we thought.
Within 5 minutes of departure, the boat shakes and we both spin in the chairs. Again, the boat rocks even harder, and I come flying off my chair. Once again the boat tilts hard at 45 degrees and I go somersaulting across the floor full speed and smash into the opposite side wall, as Ryan spins uncontrollably in his chair. We both instantly run out of the cab to see what is happening, and can’t believe what we are witnessing. When we get outside and look up, there was an endless violent sea of pitch black waves towering over the height of the entire boat, throwing us around like a ping-pong balls in a hurricane. The waves were easily 30 ft tall, and Ry and I knew we couldn’t stay down on the lower deck. We climbed to the top as the waves were thrashing overtop of the boat, just in time to see the captain falling off his seat, dangling on the floor and holding on the wheel as he screamed “hold on boys!”. We were scrambling to find a ledge to get a grip on, and we were covered head to toe in dried sea salt from the wash of the previous waves. Eventually, the captain gained control of his vessel, and rode into the waves as opposed to alongside where we were thrashed around. We made it about 20 miles out from shore, and we couldn’t see land at all. The waves were still extremely large, and we found out there were no lifejackets on board. We knew this was going to be a rough go. All of us passengers got sick, more than once. In fact, it was hard to even stand or lift an arm up. I tried filming the waves but couldn’t even hold the camera. We were green in colour and all the ship-hands were laughing and fine.
Eventually, the captain got his shipmates to lower the fishing lines into the water, and we began to troll behind the boat in open water. We hooked up, and caught a few red snapper, and barracuda. None of us even felt like fishing, but it was the only positive thing to look forward to on our 8 hour fishing day. We were losing our bait to a lot of fish, so when we ran out bait, the captain did something amazing. He brought out this fishing rod with a 2 lb lead ball weight, and 3 tiny yellow fishing flies on the line spaced 2 feet apart of one another. As soon as he casted that line out into the deep rough blackness of 20-30 foot roller waves, hundreds of fish came soaring out after the flies dragging on top of the water, and we caught another 40 mackerel for bait in about 10 casts. It’s amazing to think that in 500 feet of water, in 30 foot waves in the middle of nowhere, with no land in sight; that these fish were there the whole time by the millions. It dawned on me that if we fell in with no life jackets on, it wouldn’t be the waves that killed us first, it would be what swims in them.
After replenishing our bait supply, I decided to sit in the fishing seat to see if I could have one last crack at getting a nice one. After about 15 minutes of trolling, I hooked into a good sized fish, later to land it and to our surprise it was a very large barracuda. We all agreed that we had got what we came for, and told the captain to turn the boat around and head back to shore. After we docked, Ryan and I scrambled to our feet and sat down on the dock to regain our balance. We now look back on this memory we had together and laugh. It was hard but fun and an experience like that really makes you appreciate the safety of land, and gives you a real respect for the power and danger of Mother Nature, just thankfully she brought us back home that day.