READ THE OCEAN
You just can’t rely on the ocean eh? Right when the fishing demersal season was due to open, a six metre plus swell was predicted on Sunday Dec 17. At the time of writing this article, Dec 14, I and many others have been scrutinising weather websites to see if this is a bold prediction and we will not get over four metres, or if indeed it will be a one off massive summer swell. Most hard core surfers and sailors know what to look for in this regard, but for those a little less familiar, these are the key factors to check out and there are numerous weather sites to help you with this. Firstly, I like to see where the actual low pressure system is located from the coast and how long it is predicted to stay in the area. The Bureau of Metereology four day forecast charts are as good as anywhere to see this. If the low pressure is going to rush up near the coast quite quickly, then you can expect a short sharp swell with a shorter wave period. However, if the low pressure lingers further south, for a longer period of time, then the wave period is likely to be anything up to 17-20 seconds and that indicates a huge swell. So, at this stage, it looks like being fairly close to the coast, with a wave period predicted of 15 seconds late Sunday afternoon into Monday morning. The best way to check if the prediction matches reality is to go to the Cape Naturaliste Wave Buoy site which graphs near real time swells and seas. It can sometimes shut down in big swells, but here is the website link for anyone interested. https://www.transport.wa.gov.au/imarine/naturaliste-tide-and-wave.asp
With accompanying 30-40 knot west to southwesterly winds, it will definitely mean no boating in the Capes region and we certainly hope no-one was silly enough to go rock fishing during this time. The good news is that when this article goes to print on Wednesday December 20, it looks like the first decent day to get out for a fish and supply booty for Christmas dinner, as I have will be trying to do.
Aaron Macfarlane and a group of locals launched the Gracetown swimming pontoon a few weeks ago and then the big swell prediction meant it had to be pulled out again soon after by Roger Melville with his trusty farm tractor. This is a great community resource and will definitely be back in the water well before Christmas. For those who come to the Bay and swim, if you see large groups of people trying to flip the pontoon, please give them the polite message that it takes a lot of effort and funds to keep this as a functioning platform and simply enjoy without stupidity. Thanks Azza and the crew for your efforts.