A long way down
Our boat, the Ribeira brava, is our pride and joy. Its charm is undeniable, the old wooden style transports us back to a time when life on the sea was quite different. When the boats were made of wood and the men of steel as is often said here. Implying perhaps that nowadays it might be vice versa.
Back in those days life on board was quite different, beginning with no comfy benches, but there was more. This as hard work far at sea, sailing with and old ship like this is not nearly as easy as with the current engine. When the winds changed, the sail had to come down completely, to reattach the boom on the other side of the mast. No GPS either, in order to plot a course back to land fishermen would use an old radio antenna, aiming it around until the signal from Madeira was picked up.
The fish of choice was the Scabbardfish (Aphanopus carbo), a deep sea fish that moves from the bathypelagic zone 1000m down up in the water column, with a very long line, fishermen can get deep enough to catch them, as the line with many hooks comes up, these scary deep-sea monster-looking fish find their way to the surface, a delicious local delicacy.
Some days, when we are lucky, Sr. Luis, a man who’s spent his entire life at sea, on boats like this one, still does some trips for us. An experience more authentic than this is hard to find. And we enjoy the privilege of being taken on a journey along beautiful coast of Madeira, with our eyes on the horizon, hoping to spot a cetacean or two.
By Scott Dorssers