Don’t mention the bananas….
Even superheroes have their lapses…
Its winter. Time to go tropical for me…..
Last month it was to Western Australia I visited again, back to Shark bay with the same group of mates as previous years, back to the wee burg of Denham where Emus roam the streets and the waves of heat are only tempered by the gentle 20kn steady breeze. Tropical paradise it is not, sun baked, sand blasted, wind desiccated desert it surely is. But it does have fish in the bay, so that’s OK.
Nearing the end of the 12-hour drive from Perth to Shark Bay
We were up there this year with two boats, Pete Montagues 7.5 m centre console, and Noel McCalls 8m cabin boat, “Scallywag”…painted bright yellow, he doesn’t appreciate his
We were up there this year with two boats, Pete Montagues 7.5 m centre console, and Noel McCalls 8m cabin boat, “Scallywag”…painted bright yellow, he doesn’t appreciate his vhf call sign of “big budgie, big budgie”… and given a fair degree of superstition, most definitely NOT “Jumbo Banana”. Noel definitely has a thing about boats and bananas.
Knowing this of course is a trigger for Pete, who searched the ‘net to procure a couple of giant inflatable bananas, the first night we were settling into the house in Denham he snuck out in the wee small hours and taped the inflated bananas to the top of Noels cabin….hard to see from the ground, all in the spirit of fun and japes.
Next morning Noel didn’t notice the additions until had launched, and saw them as he came down the finger jetty after parking up. Words were said, much inter-boat jocularity ensued, it was all sunshine and laughter until five minutes later Noels stern leg blew up.
The point was not missed that the boat had been running just peachy groovy before Pete did his little banana stunt….. Petes smile was starting to get a little waxy, as you can imagine, as we piled the guilts into him. Noel turned back to port with us following in case of need.
Once our nursemaiding was done, we were off, keen to be 80kms away from accusations of banana based sabotage, heading for the waters around the top of Cape Peron. There we managed to score plenty of good critters, estuary Cod, snapper, stuff like that. Standard stuff for a standard trip.
Heading home was easier as well, as we were able to scoot across shallow (under 2m)waters, where the waves whipped up by the standard afternoon breeze couldn’t get more than a mild bump size, after previous trips up here where bashing our way home into 25kn breezes (ha! Breezes my arrr…m, (ahem, oops, almost said a bad word there) that is WIND folks! And a strong one at it!) where waves 1.5-2m high and darn close together is a jarring and sodden version of hell. All in all another good, standard day.
The guilt’s were piled on once home, though, as the solution to Noels stuff leg was $2500, and a replacement to be shipped up from Perth. Noel was to be ashore for the next five days. Do not mention Bananas.
Well, our time rolled on by, fishing was done, fish were caught, every trip here to find decent fishing was a couple of hours at speed, and three or four back into that damn breeze, before Noel was able to join us again. I suggested he take it for a shake down spin, but his reply was “I’ll do that tomorrow with a 50 mile shakedown to the tip of Dirk Hartog!”
Western side of Dirk Hartog Island looking back towards Denham
You have to admire the mans confidence. this was our last weekend up here, and our plan was to head to the top of Dirk Hartog Island, the westernmost tip of Australia, where we would fish the day, then shoot back in the afternoon, and repeat the day after….Noels plan was to run up, then spend the night up there a saving of gas and time.
So, 9 am and we launch at Denham again, going to follow Noel out in the Big Budgie. “hmmm, seems to be going a bit slow” says Pete, when Noel called up again…. his top speed now was ten knots.
Do not mention Bananas. Turned out the new leg was a different gear ratio, and so his props were totally wrong. With much commentary on Peters ancestry and his choice of fruit (as in “yew banana smugglin’ barstid!”), Noel headed back to the ramp. Luckily he had a set of smaller props spare back at the house, an hour later he was back on the water and able to get up to 17kn, so he was on his way, way behind us but happy to be on the water at last!
By the time we had made it to Turtle Bay at the top of Dirk Hartog, and started trolling in the sheltered waters there, Pete was starting to make change-of-plan noises.
Dusk at Turtle bay, Dirk Hartog Island a great little anchorage from the southerly
the water was nice and flat in Turtle bay, a bay about the size of Spirits bay in the far north, the fish were biting, so Pete decided we would stay the night, fish thru til early morning, then head home. Hmmmmmm……I am not entirely keen on changes of plan. This one I had
the water was nice and flat in Turtle bay, a bay about the size of Spirits bay in the far north, the fish were biting, so Pete decided we would stay the night, fish thru til early morning, then head home. Hmmmmmm……I am not entirely keen on changes of plan. This one I had reservations
the water was nice and flat in Turtle bay, a bay about the size of Spirits bay in the far north, the fish were biting, so Pete decided we would stay the night, fish thru til early morning, then head home. Hmmmmmm……I am not entirely keen on changes of plan. This one I had reservations about, but said nowt as I didn’t want to be a moaning kiwi.
The Cobia I sort of caught, it was big, Lochie is 6’6 !!
Lochie was also kind enough to reel the fish in for me…………grr
Well, we did get a few fish, yes. Best being the fish I have been after for ages, a big cobia.
I got it, sort of, but then again, I didn’t.
It was about ten pm, very quiet, so i bunged my rod in the aft rod holder, and proceeded to take care of an increasingly pressing problem related to too many bottles of water and no bathroom for twelve hours… I was fair busting. So, up the front of the boat, pants down, assume the position and aaaaaahhhhh. Midflow off the front quarter of the boat, my rod, at the opposite end of the boat started to go zzzzzzz…..arrgghhhhh! What to do, what to do!? Seeing his chance, Lochie, Petes son, said “want me to get it?” Well, what could I say? “Yeah mate, go for it. Gettim!” And I proceeded to finish the task in hand, as it were.
Well, Lochie had a big fish on for sure, and after a long scrap, there was this big fish, which we first called for a shark, until we realized it was a thumper of a cobia. Bastard! Always the way ain’t It! A nice 28kg fish, after considerable mayhem and drama landing it. Pete, mate, get a better gaff, yeah?
So I caught it by proxy I reckon. Mutter mumble…..
Interesting though was that it seems that there had been that night a hatch of turtles, as we had several newly hatched turtles swimming around our boat, one of which managed to get itself stuck on the transom deck. Cute little things, I imagine they would make wonderful morsels for all the fish up here.
Anyhow, by now we were tired, the wind had picked up to a 20kn sou-westerly, and our batteries were running low. Problem. Where and how do you sleep three big guys on a open centre consol boat without any bedding of any sort, just a change of clothes Pete and Loch have on board for emergencies, and a couple of heavy weather pfd jackets. Answer is? You can’t.
Stunning Diamond Trevally from the shallows of Dirk Hartog Island, provided a great fight on the Hamachi Agera reel and the prototype XOS GT’n’Doggie PE1-3
Pete sacked out across the middle of the boat behind the console, Lochie took the space across the back transom, and I had the particularly windswept bow. Thank god I managed to get one of the heavy windproof jackets, thank you Lochie! Its only fair, he nicked me trophy Cobia, so I nicked his jacket….works for me!
We all three froze. Probably one of my top three worst nights on a boat, by the wee small hours the dew had us all soaked, the wind had us freezing and the total lack of anything to lie on had us sore, the cold damp fibreglass deck sucked the heat out of our bodies and all three of us were praying for dawn and some warm sun!
Solid Norwest snapper couldn’t resist a luminescent ninja jig in the dark of night
Dawn came with glacial slowness (and I use the word “glacial” advisedly), so we spurred ourselves back into fishing mode, just to warm up a little. Fish were landed, and as soon as the sun had risen we were trolling along picking up trevally of around 20lb or so (chuck backers ), shark Mackerel, the odd keeper cod or something useful. After an hour or so, Noel called up, he was thinking of pulling the pin and heading home, were we coming? Yes. Oh yes. Please Yes. Get me outta there!
So we tailed in behind Noels boat, cleared all the gear away for a long trip, rounded the corner of the island and ran smack in to the 20kn wind which was blowing against the incoming tide of around a knot or so. The water was standing up very nastily. Exactly the sort of crap up with which I am firmly intent not to put.
Well, what could we do? We tucked in behind Noels bigger, drier and comfier boat, and rode his wake for THIRTY FRIKKEN MILES!!!!!! (50kms) at ten knots or so. Out to our right, Dirk Hartog Island seemed to be not moving at all, and out to the left, where I was hoping the Peron Penninsula would be, the horizon was resolutely blank.
Finally we were within sight of the other side of shark bay, about 15-20 miles from home, when Pete saw a chance to veer away from our slow thumping progress and dart across to some shallow sand flats which at 2m deep were pretty calm, and we were able to put the hammer down, shooting away at 30knots.
So, we got home to Denham town at last at around one-ish, absolutely shattered, intent on nothing more than a shower and some sleep…..after filleting, vacuum packing and freezing down all these darn fish of course.
What a way to end a trip. Turns out Noel decided to come back “early” as his motor was staring to make funny noises….I have since heard the motor itself has died totally as well, replaced by a nice reconditioned 200hp motor.
Just DON’T MENTION BANANAS!