The Great Tuna Hunt
Calabria: home of the ancient maritime tradition, historically known for its wealth of tuna fishing and tonnare, surrounded by warm waters, blue as blue can be. It was the best place to start, and if anyone was going to do the thing, it was our intrepid crew. We left its beautiful coast behind, off in pursuit of what so many had tried but failed.
I remember it like it was yesterday, setting out onto the deep sea, five generations of seafaring stirring in my veins, gulls cawing and circling overhead. The muttering of the motor filled the air. It was a glorious day. The sea shimmered, calm and placid as we navigated past the shallows, past the isle of Cirella and toward the Mediterranean, past the brilliant sandy shores of Costa Degli Dei. The boat glided smoothly over the smallest waves, creaking and rocking in the wake of passing fishing crafts, waves slapping a rhythmic refrain on the rusting hull. The floor was littered with an incredible quantity of equipment: nets and rods and reels and tackle, fishing lines and weights to haul in whatever catch we would find.
Below us the waves grew wild and free, and we laughed in the wind as our boat rose and dipped, lightly bucking beneath us. The sea was mischievous and alive as it tossed us about, creamy foam cresting in little wave-peaks. Cheerfully, we drew our bait along glinting fish hooks with a careful eye, casting our lines. But it was not the small fish that we were out for today.
We scanned the horizon for hours, landing small catches and tossing them back to the sea, until finally, finally, at long last, the signal came, the age-old call for tuna sightings: “Toccau!” With a sharp jerk of the wheel, the boat trundled about, rudder leading the stern into the swarm of silvery fins just beneath the surface, where a school of feeding fish darted about in a frenzy. The wind was up. I could feel it whipping my hair about, briskly shifting ropes and snapping lines as the prow sliced through the choppy waves. She went sure and steady through the driving current and mist, leaving a foaming wake behind.