I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A FISHY STORY

I was reading some posts on the Trip Advisor forums about Anegada and came across this incredible story that I thought I would share with you all.

In the early 1970's, I used to fish for blue sharks with Capt. Frank Mundus (a real nut job) who fished commercially out of Grossman's Dock at Montauk Point, N.Y. Mundus kept the "Cricket II" in New York most of the time but maybe some of you readers will remember him as a shark fisherman every winter season in St. Maarten, BWI.

In the 70's, shark fishing (for sport) had not become popular yet, but I enjoyed fishing for them with 40# test line using a 4/0 "Everol" Italian-made reel. It was great fun and although I would have preferred "tagging and releasing" the sharks, that was out of the question with Mundus. The shark "livers" were sold to pharmaceutical companies that extracted high concentrations of "niacin" from them, and, the shark "skins" were used to make shoes and handbags.

On one occasion, I was waiting at 4 AM at the dock, to be picked up by Capt. Mundus for an all-day charter. I spotted the Cricket II from afar and it appeared that Mundus was dragging something behind the boat because of the irregular wake. It turned out that Mundus had harpooned a baby "Pilot Whale". He gleefully informed me that he was going to "grind it up" for shark chum. Mundus had previously told me that because of the rivalry and hatred for each other (between Porpoises and Sharks), whenever he could harpoon a porpoise, it made the best possible shark chum. Incredible. What an a--hole he was. But the baby whale was just for "openers" on this day.

We took the Cricket II out to fish for blue sharks, and, as usual, Mundus for drunk and in a foul mood. On the way off-shore, Mundus saw a huge Sunfish basking on top of the water. He immediately ran to the "pulpit" where the pneumatic harpoon gun was bolted down to the deck, and, without any hesitation, he harpooned the Sunfish. Then, he and the mate proceeded to rig the magnificent fish, and they hoisted it up onto the deck with a winch. I was totally disgusted.

We continued on to the blue shark fishing grounds which were located about 2 hours off-shore from Montauk Point. When we arrived, the mate took out the chum, set a slick, and within an hour, we had 20 to 30 blue sharks feeding on the chum. Because Mundus was alternating with the mate at the chum can, there was a mess of blood and fish guts all over the deck (remember Mundus was very drunk and his aim with the chum ladle wasn't too good), and, the deck was very slippery. That wouldn't have been a problem if I was allowed to fish from the "fighting chair" at the stern. But I wasn't, and, I was feeling extremely vulnerable sliding all over the deck, every time there was a wave swell. After a while, Mundus got bored and decided to entertain himself. He went below deck to his cabin, extracted a rifle from the gunrack on the wall, came top-side, loaded the rifle, and tried to take aim at one of the sharks in the slick. Eventually (after wasting God knows how many rounds of ammunition) he managed to shoot a hole into the head of one of the sharks. The dying shark started to thrash around wildly in the water, and, it took probably no more than 10 seconds for the other 20 to 30 blue sharks to attack Mundus' prey and rip it to shreds, at a distance of not more than 25 feet, right in front of my eyes. If you've never witnessed a scene like this one, at very close quarters, chances are you would have been as horrified as I was, and reacted to it in the same way. I began screaming and cursing at Mundus, calling him a f----ing animal, which was probably not a smart thing to do considering that he was dead drunk and still had a loaded rifle in his hands. But he only mumbled to himself, lurched downstairs to his cabin and passed out. I immediately told the mate that I wanted to head home. The mate had to be happy to hear this news, because it was "my nickel" and the charter was pre-paid. All the mate had to do when we returned to Montauk Point was "grind up" the baby Pilot Whale and a 300 lb. Sunfish that Mundus had harpooned earlier that same morning. I never fished with Frank Mundus again.

For those of you that don't recognize the name "Frank Mundus", he is the commercial shark fisherman that harpooned and beached a 4,554 pound "Great White Shark:" at Montauk Point in 1964. That's right boys and girls, I said four thousand five hundred and fifty-four pounds 4,554 lbs.). To my knowledge, there has never been a living Great White Shark of this size, harpooned or captured by any commercial fisherman since that day in 1964. Mundus became an instant celebrity and the photos of the shark were on the front pages of 1,000's of newspapers and fishing magazines all over the world.

Mundus confided to me that the Great White Shark was feeding on the rotting carcass of a dead whale and that's how he was able to sneak up on it, harpoon it several times and eventually drown it.

Many years later, this fame was responsible for a then unknown writer named Peter Benchley, to contact Mundus for background research material on a book that he was going to begin writing in 1974. The book was "JAWS". The character of Capt. Quint (portrayed in the movie by Robert Shaw) is a spitting image of Frank Mundus. Before his death, Peter Benchley finally acknowledged that "Quint" was a not so fictitious characterization of "Frank Mundus".

And so my Anegada Forum readers, you have my shark tale. I hope that you've enjoyed reading it.

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Some names have been changed to protect my butt.



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