After three weeks of photo collages for On The Bay articles, it is time to clear the cobwebs and return to some written material. Most of us came up for breath sometime around January 3 and I trust you all had an enjoyable festive season. This year I decided to cease running skipper’s ticket courses between Xmas and New Year for two reasons. Firstly, with so many boats, both locals and holiday makers, looking to get out on the water, running a skipper’s ticket course is just too hectic for both myself and the client. You don’t win any popularity awards when you are trying to show someone how to secure the vessel properly, log on, conduct a safety briefing, complete a pre start check and depart the jetty safely, when there are ten boats waiting to launch. The other reason was that we had family over from the eastern states and wanted to spend some quality time with them.
All up there were a dozen people living together at any one time, so having a small rural property certainly came into it’s own. The adults stayed in our house, the younger crew in a large shed and Viv and I stayed in our slide on camper, which is our normal home for six months up north every year anyway. Now with that many people, you always need plans to keep them busy and we certainly crammed a lot into the two weeks or so they were here. Some were keen on fishing and even though my new boat had arrived two days before they turned up, we were not going to try and fish seven out of one boat. So I lined up my two good mates, Jungle and Duths to help out and a few days before Xmas we had three boats hitting the water at 430am. My nephew, Tim ( pictured ) was keen on trialling jigs and had immediate success hooking a ‘horse’, but the hooks straightened out. He persisted, however and was rewarded soon after with a 32lb Dhuie. Only problem was we got tangled up, as I was onto a beauty at the same time and his fish came on board with serious scars along one side from my braid line. These fish were fat, strong and some had up to four runs before being landed. Mine weighed in at 45lbs, so at least I got to share bragging rights. In all, the three boats landed five dhuies, two pinkies, two sweep and one blackarse. Next adventure was a scuba dive on the Busselton Jetty which I had not done since my teaching days. The adults booked in for an underwater observatory tour on the same day as I took the divers in my new 5.7m boat, launching from Port Geographe Marina. We even synchronised our watches and set up pre-arranged hand signals, so they were able to recognise us amongst the other divers when they descended to the lower level of the observatory. Next day it was a four wheel drive truck tour through Boranup Forest and then along Grace Rd to Boranup Beach for a swim in 30 knot southerlies. On other days, family members visited many different wineries while others were just happy to collect sticks off our firebreak. But the highlight was definitely the time spent every afternoon, with a beer or glass of wine, in the ‘Spill The Guts Shed’. I am sure this needs no detailed explanation. Whenever family get together you share the good with the bad and who better to share it with.