GAP IN PROCEEDINGS
After some savage ocean conditions over the last few weeks, as nature would have it, we soon returned to pristine autumn conditions throughout the southwest. Two huge swells with strong onshore winds and big tides leading, meant waves were washing up on foreshores, boats tested on moorings and offshore boating was out of the question. Then the skies cleared, swells cleaned up, with Mainbreak, North Point, Ellensbrook Bombie and other big wave locations doing their thing. For the first time in 21 years, the Gracetown Bay Swim had to be cancelled on Easter Saturday, due to a swell still over four metres. With this massive amount of water trying to channel back out of the bay after the sets have rolled in, it would have been a dangerous and impossible swim. However, the Saturday night function at the Gracetown Hall, starting with an art exhibition, was an absolute hoot for locals and holiday makers, strutting their stuff to live music from the Mike Goodwin Band. It is always a great catch up and well done to the organisers for making the evening so enjoyable.
Whenever there are huge swells along the coast, especially during peak holiday periods, there is a little anxiety with the expectation that an ocean based incident is more likely to occur. Pleased to say that the Margaret River Volunteer Marine Rescue Group has had a relatively quiet year and hopefully this reflects safer practices by boaties and ocean users. However, the big swells we encountered pounded the South Australian and Victorian coastlines a few days later, with tragedies unfolding in both states. One that deserves special mention involved Port Campbell SLSC members who deployed a rescue vessel when a tourist was washed out to sea near the Twelve Apostles, in the area notoriously known as the Shipwreck Coast. In tough conditions, the vessel capsized, with the loss of a local dairy farmers Ross Powell, 71 and his son Andrew, 32 ( both pictured, courtesy The Age ) who was also soon to be a father. The third crew member was airlifted to safety and is undergoing surgery with serious injuries. For two volunteers, who were stalwarts of their local community, to lose their lives in such circumstances, is beyond words and our sympathy goes out to all their family and friends.
With fishing from boats a bit restricted, news from further north in the Capes region revealed good schools of salmon still close in, with shore based fishos getting amongst it. An interesting facebook post complaining about boats trolling close to shore, in between the schools and shore based fishos, stirred up a few emotions. Happy to agree that it shows poor form for skippers to be doing this if the shore based fishos are already set up and getting amongst them.
And so, after over twelve months of planning, shoulder surgery, two visits across the country, boat trailer rebuild, new truck tyres and oh, how the list goes on, Viv and I are off on what we are calling our Gap Year. Sounds good eh! Still have to work of course, but with the new truck camper as a home, we have decided to rent our place out at Gracetown for 12 months ( anyone interested contact Stocker Preston ) and see what evolves. For this reason, after 12 years of weekly articles in The Mail, I have now decided to make On The Bay articles a monthly edition. Port Hedland here we come!