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Fish tales

Fourteen days out on the choppy seas of the Indian Ocean will test even the hardest man’s mettle. Especially when hauling 70-kilo broadbill onto the deck. We almost lost Putny a few times as he hung over the side, spearing the great fish that bucked like a spooked rodeo bull. But when we reached the bay of Mombasa, we had around a dozen to unload at the market. Land would feel strange under our feet.

Credit Mike Elkin

Credit Mike Elkin

The crew passed the fish into dinghies that approached the shore, and then we carried them from the shallows to the shore in our own coastal calvary. The boss, his notebook, and a scale mounted on a wooden frame awaited us. When the notebook was full, we bore the aquatic beasts up the hill to the market and the big knife.

 

Miller Time in Muslim Mombasa is Tea Time. We head to F.H. Mithai’s shop near Langon Road. Mithai’s family has made Indian sweets and served tea in Mombasa since the 1860s when they arrived from Gujarat, India. As a younger man he studied archaeology in Scotland, but also fished — against the wishes of his father. One night, sailing north of Mombasa, out of land’s view, the waters tossed the boat, sending Mithai and his three friends into the water. The three washed ashore alive on the north coast and in Mombasa, but Mithai continued to drift. After a day and half a wave pushed his nearly dead body into the south coast. He said he saw hands in the waves pick him up and carry him to salvation. He never fished in the open sea again.