Last week’s article, ‘Incidents At Sea’, outlined some of the risks associated with night time boating. Sure it is not for everyone, but while writing the article I had developed the urge to do a night time, or at least early morning trip out from Port Hedland. Heading out from Gracetown or Gnarabup before the sun rises can be a bit daunting sometimes, what with no channel markers and the possibility of some swell to raise the adrenaline. In comparison, Port Hedland is lit up like a Christmas tree and no swell in this part of the world unless a cyclone is brewing, only short sharp chop when the wind is up. The port and starboard channel markers are synchronised to flash together, so it is quite a sight and fortunately there were no large ship movements in the channel on my departure. Unlike the attached photo during one of my skipper’s ticket classes-that’s my little dot of a boat in the foreground.
Launching on your own in the dark is always a bit of fun, but with no wind there were no issues this morning. Especially made sure my routine was followed for this trip- bilge pump on while tied at the jetty to ensure the bungs were in properly, car keys and phone in the safety barrel, inflatable life jacket on, VHF radio pre-charged the night before and GPS screen dimmed so night vision was not affected. I was heading out about six nautical miles and just plodded along enjoying the cool air and calm seas before the expected forty degrees which was due later in the day. Once out a bit I ran out a 7m deep diver pink Halco lure and although it was hit twice, there was no hook up which was a bit frustrating given the tuna were leaping out of the water. I soon found some ground so anchored up with two nice trevally straight away before a shark encouraged me to relocate. The next spot produced a lot of undersize fish including, snapper, cod and coral trout and then it was like a tap had been turned off, as the fish shut down. This continued for about three hours, during which time I tried all sorts of jigs and soft plastics to change the mood of the fish, but all to no avail. Finally I resorted to motoring while fishing, as the tide was beginning to have too much effect on the line and anchoring right on the spot was difficult. I have used this technique a few times down south and some guys only fish this way, especially in deeper water. If done properly you can park your boat right where the fish are and although eventually you may move off the spot, you just reel in, relocate and start again. Heaps easier than pulling the anchor every time, but certainly not as relaxing as being at anchor while you are actually fishing. Anyway, pretty much on the last drop I finally landed a nice coral trout that was destined for the fish box and the evening meal. I took a bit of video footage of the trip which is posted on my facebook page as six short clips for anyone interested. Back at the boat ramp another boat was boasting about the blue swimmer crabs being around and was only too happy to give the location away. Watch this space!
To answer last week’s question, in Australia an activated EPIRB sends a signal to the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra. This week’s question is, ‘What free website can track large vessel movements around the world?’
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