A man’s got to have goals.
Simple fact . To be happy a person needs three things:
1/ Someone to love.
2/ Something to do today.
3/ Something to look forward to.
So I’ve crafted myself a little bucket list of destinations that I’d like to visit , explore and surf before my wearying carcass is ready for the Long Sleep. Adventure is a big ingredient in these missions ive decided to pursue .
And lack of crowds.
To embark on an irregular endeavour and be rewarded with some quality waves, untainted by the scourge of humanity is the idea.
I’ve got a few mates on the same program, located in various points , all with certain waves and surf zones on the radar . It can be a call up at any time . Fingers crossed.
So it was recently when I got the call up from a mate with a boat and a plan. He’d noticed a window of opportunity to make a go at an area we’ve talked of hitting. Due to the vagaries of weather , the call could only ever be made at short notice . The swell looked smaller than we’d like , but the conditions looked amazing. And it’s the type of place where benevolent conditions aren’t just a luxury, they can be the difference between success and disaster.
Within a few hours of the call up I was behind the wheel for a 15 hour drive. Luckily, my mate was taking care of everything, all I needed was a couple of boards and could hit the road. Meanwhile he was fueling up his 6m centre console with a 140HP engine. Hundreds of dollars worth of juice. He sorted fishing and diving gear , food and a few beers. I arrived in the evening of the second day and had a grainy-eyed meal at the pub. A good chance for a pre-mission discussion then straight to bed.
Next morning we were on the water in the dawn twilight. The wind was still up slightly as we punched seaward at 25 knots. We stopped at a wreck on the way and jigged up some bait. Spires of tea leaf trevally rose off the wreck , competing for our jigs. Within minutes we had more than enough to fish with. Already the shark situation was apparent. We lost several fish to the man in the grey suit. Fingers crossed that they’d abate further offshore.
A couple of hours later and we were approaching the first of our potential destinations. The wind was forecast to lay down to nothing and it was starting to do just that.
It’s always strange to lay eyes on an atoll surf break for the first time. A hundred kms from shore , nothing but blue water , and then you start to notice the sawtooth peaks of whitewater rising from the ocean like a mirage or the trees of a desert oasis. Getting closer and the outline of the atoll starts to reveal itself, the landward side of the water begins to shallow.
The typically large tides had been moderated by the neaps of the lunar cycle. This timing was not coincidental. The more extreme tidal variations could prove catastrophic to surfers with the potential of strong currents threatening the ability to paddle safely from the boat to the line up and back .Not something you really want to experience a hundred kms from land.
Consequently, the water was perhaps the clearest I’ve ever seen. The approach to the surf alongside the atoll was now studded with large bombies towering up from the sandy bottom. Individual coral trout were easily spotted lurking alongside these bombies in the 15-20 metre deep water.
The surf was small. Too small. The reef looked to have potential, but the swell wasn’t there. Tomorrow was meant to be bigger . Though maybe not big enough...
Research had indicated another spot which might receive the swell better . It was another 20kms or so away so we decided to explore around this area before we made our way there in the morning. The next day was meant to be zero wind and the journey would be quick and easy .
So we decided to check out the reef. Anchoring up behind the break , we put on our dive gear and jumped over the side . I’ve dived many tropical reefs and this rivalled anywhere. Maybe even better. Thick with life. Healthy corals and crystal clear water. Coral trout - one of the tastiest fish in the sea - were like vermin. We soon had a few on ice. The sharks were very attentive.
The day now getting late , we decided to find a spot to park up for the night. An island showed on the charts not too far away so that’s where we headed. On the way we found a nice bit of ground on the sounder . A quick drop with some trevally bait and there was a couple of red emporer flapping about on the deck. If there is a single nicer fish than the coral trout, it’s the red emporer. The seafood equivalent of a grass fed , Wagyu beef steak .
The island looked like the archetypal tropical paradise. We anchored in its lee in case the wind arose , but by now the ocean was mirror calm. As the sun started to set we cooked red emporer on a little BBQ , mixed it through a salad and shared a few of the most satisfying beers we’d ever drank. Turtles rose around the boat , the snort of their breathing and the surface slashing of predators murdering prey the only sound apart from our voices.
We had a ball sipping our beers and toasting our good fortune to experience such a place. We’d set a couple of floating baits and they got smashed so regularly that we soon got tired of dehooking fish and put them away and went to sleep. A swag each side of the centre console and we slept like kings.
During the night I woke for a piss and to check our anchorage. Utter silence and the stars were immense. A shooting star mirrored on the surface of the inky ocean as it sped across the sky. Bioluminescence betraying small animals around us , sharks easily spotted by the moonlight as they cruised under the boat.
Dawn was still and we were soon powering to the next spot. It was strange to be so far from shore and to be able to shoot at 50kms an hour to a potential surf spot.
Alas.....it was still too small. The wave we’d planned on surfing was on the hook at the end of the reef . There was more swell further around, but the reef lacked shape. The wave we’d came to surf did look amazing though. On the right swell it’d obviously be very high quality.
What can you do ?
The swell refused to cooperate. We’d assumed that this was only ever a reconnaissance trip , but it was still a bit disappointing to come so close and be denied. But that’s surfing.
The day was perfect, so all was not lost.
It was a washout for waves , but a divers wet dream. We slowly explored the various reefs in the vicinity. Diving where we liked the look. Amazing spectacles happened so often that they became normalised. Highlight was sliding over the transom as a school of Spanish Mackerel came over to investigate. Such curious fish . And tasty fish. If it hadn’t been for the massive hammerhead circling slightly wider then they’d have been a tempting target , despite the icebox being full of red fish.
After lunch we noticed the clouds announcing a potential wind increase and decided to make a run for port before things got ugly. Half way in the sea was covered in white caps and we had to punch our way home.
Made port , trailered and washed the boat , cleaned the fish and I decided to hit the road to ensure the delicious fish I’d kept would be preserved as well as possible.
A long drive through the night . Jousting with semi - trailers , stereo blaring. Caffeine coursing through my veins and I was singing out loud most of the way. Sun rising and still had hours to go. Watching the roads around the capital fill with commuters sedately on their way to work contrasting with the last 48 hours . Physically tired but mentally buzzing. Replaying the mission in my mind.
In one regard we missed out , but I didn’t feel like I’d lost.
Thank surfing for giving us the urge and the passion to open ourselves and extend ourselves out of our comfort zones.
Every day you remain a surfer you’re half way to happiness.
Hats off to Huey.
Big shout out to Adelita and Magic Dirt for helping me down the highway.
Great yarn Blowin- brings back memories of a trip to Swains some years back. I reckon a Coral trout is as good eating as the Emperor.
See your a fan of Dr Gordon Livingston too.
Good one Blowin,gotta keep the stoke alive,got a feeling i know where you went...big drive alright.......funny though how the adventure will live on and in 20 years time you will remember 2019 as that adventure,or one of them.......beats buying white goods.....long time dead ...
coral trout, red emperor and bluebone only fish my skipper in the gulf would let come on board.
god I'd love a little trip away right now.
might have to zip south to the next river this week.
Speared a couple of nice bluebone on our last dive.
Ate some today . Whilst Bourez was devastating Marg’s rights I was devastating lightly coated bluebone nuggets with home made chips.
That big river looks like shit hot fishing. You would have seen some cool shit in the gulf , huh ?
It takes a lifetime to figure it out and I've just scratched the surface.
got some unbelievable flathead spots dialled in for the spring northerlies.
A couple of years ago I had a fun little stopover surf along side that Northern breakwall. A young bloke , maybe fourteen years old , caught the biggest flathead I’ve ever seen out of the little channel hard against the wall that the sandbank drains into . Looked like a fucking saltwater crocodile.
if you want to catch a genuine metre flathead then it'll be in either the Richmond or the Clarence.
Good post Blowin, got to love an adventure, even if you don't score..half the fun is the mission.
Life’s too short.
Too many fun things to do.
Nice Blowin. Makes me miss the EC right now.
Reading this while changing a yellow poo filled nappy, you lucky fucka..
SOunds like a sick mission
Although i wouldnt change the last few months for all the tubes in the world
Well written Blowin thanks for throwing it up.
Dont worry goofy youll look back in 10 years and wonder where those years went.
FR do you use braid? i grew up using nylon line and hate using braid but everyone seems to rave about it...what do you recon?
If you pull the trigger and go, you’ve already won
I like braid, super light, strong as buggery and less flex making for a quicker strike and more sensitivity imo.
Mate got the biggest flathead I've ever seen at Jumpinpin on the Goldy. Of course we let her go. On half a pilly trolling and bouncing it along the bottom.
Btw, cool read Blowy. Red Emporor is lovely cold too. and as Sashimi it's off the charts.
I use braid Simba for everything except live baiting for jew in the river.
once you've gotten used to braid for lure fishing there's no going back.
mono feels like rooting with two condoms on.
"mono feels like rooting with two condoms on."
haha yes hopefully that was an analogy and not a reflection on freeride76s past.
Instagram @leunigstudio Michael Leunig for his bucket list