During the afternoon following our Blue Hole expedition, we took the dinghy 'round neighboring islands where Brian scouted the coral lined shorelines for fish. He lucked out when he found a group of conch on a sandy patch below the water. What do you call a group of conch anyway...a heard, a gathering, a flock? He pulled up six! "That should keep us busy for the rest of the day," I said. Brian continued snorkeling for a bit while I sat, cornered in the dinghy on the opposite end of the conch. They were making gurgling noises and starting to turn themselves right side up. I backed as far us as I could now sitting next to the outboard on the wooden support. Then, one spatted out little fish! EWE!! I screeched and called Brian, "um, can we get these back to the boat!? This is NOT fun anymore."
Back at the boat I was able to distance myself from the gurgling, squirming conch. I fired up the computer to review the directions for getting the conch out of their shells from our electronic copy of A Cruiser's Handbook of Fishing
(thanks, Scott & Kim). Then I directed Brian through the process of breaking the shell, cutting away the conch, pulling out the conch, cutting off the eyes, and peeling away the skin. Sounds gross, eh? It was. It took approximately 30-minutes to process the first conch. It was a slimy mess.
Mid-processing we had some visitors from a neighboring boat. They were also Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) members and came by for introductions. Not a great time for visiting as we were covered in slime, but they encouraged us and gave us some conch cooking tips.
After the second conch was ready we'd decided that two were plenty and threw the other four back into the ocean. I took the meat below, chopped it, and added lime juice and spices for a makeshift conch salad. We didn't have any fresh produce but typically a conch salad has tomato, onion, and pepper. Brian stayed on deck fishing with his newly acquired bait, conch bits.
Success! Out of the water Brian pulled a porgy. Hopefully this fish would be delicious as it was plenty for both of us for supper. Living on the outskirts may not be so difficult after all with all this good food just swimming around.