I have not been a regular in putting my boat in the water and generally need prompting. We had done some boating and fishing in recent times and I had damaged my foot badly on an escapade some weeks ago while camping. In that trip we had seen the value of fishing at dawn. While away camping we realized our strike rate was much better at dawn and so we decided that we would try a little dawn fishing locally.
I have not been a regular in putting my boat in the water and generally need prompting. We had been boating and fishing in recent times, and during these escapades I had damaged my foot badly while camping. In that trip we had seen the value of fishing at dawn. We realized our strike rate was much better at dawn and so we decided that we would try a little dawn fishing locally.
The previous week we had put the boat in at our local marina and just taken the boat around to the Bribie Island Bridge. This is not a bad spot to fish spot although the size of fish around here is always an issue. Al and I had a good early morning fish the week before and had managed to get home after fishing early enough in the day so as not disrupt other planned activities.
This weekend we had invited my daughter and her flat mate. The day dawned as another lovely Queensland morning although the winds threaten to get up later. The precision of our team when putting the boat in reminded me of a well-oiled machine, slowly we motored out of the boat harbour turning right to the bridge.
Talking of well-oiled machines, father had re-filled the petrol tank the previous day and had been a little heavy handed on the two-stroke oil. When I started the outboard motor a cloud of smoke poured out and hung around in a blue haze just above us. I took due note that there was a possibility of oiling up the spark plug later and this could make the boat difficult to start.
The bridge is quite close to the marina, about a kilometre, we chatted freely, the normal high expectations you have prior to a fishing trip. We placed the boat below the incoming tide drifting towards the bridge allowing us fish close to the pillars on the seaward side. I had been told that you should fish in the channel by the seventh pillar on the mainland side of the bridge. I am not sure whether to believe this or not but I always count the pillars to make sure I am not too far from this spot.
Using yabbies for bait for first time, the girls were desperately avoiding these little icky nippy things, leaving me to do most of the baiting. We started to have success almost immediately with good bites all round.
We fished for an hour and caught some baby Snapper, sometimes called Red Bream in Australia, and my daughter caught her first Flat Head. Nothing was of a decent size and we put them all back.
Happy about the mornings fishing, we decided about eight o’clock to pack it in and go home for a good breakfast. We packed up our rods and I turned around and pulled the rope on the motor. I like to start the motor before I pull up the anchor, just in case the motor takes a moment or two to start. There was no response from the motor. I pulled the cord again, still no response. I keep on pulling it, time after time. There was no result. I tried pulling the choke out, I tried winding the idle up and down, I tried pushing the choke in and nothing seemed to work. I had visions of that spark plug oiled up, but wasn’t panicking yet.
Even on the anchor with the tide coming in we were very slowly drifting towards the bridge pillars. Still about 10 meters away, we were a little close for comfort. I never feel really good when the motor doesn’t start first time. Daughter and I had a technical talk, and decided the motor might be flooded from all the “choke in” and “choke out” stuff.
We were sure we could smell petrol and that was always a sure sign we had flooded the motor. I decided to give it another ten minutes and try again. We did that and the result was disappointingly the same. Now we’re even closer to the bridge.
I wasn’t sure if the problem was the motor flooding or the plug oiling up, I decided the best way to cure both would be to pull the spark plug out and clean it up. I fished around in my box of “things you might need” to get a screwdriver and a plug spanner. I leaned right over the back of the boat to unclip the motor cover so I could start work. Damn I remembered that the cover catch was broken, I had broken it nearly a year ago and never gotten around to fixing it. I would have to pull the whole catch mechanism apart to open the motor before pulling the plug. I started to attack it with a screwdriver, fortunately I did not have much luck and shortly after starting I decided this was too hard and gave up trying to be a mechanic .
The time was quarter to nine, I decided to leave it until nine o’clock and then try again. At five past nine I tried again, the same result. My arm was tired, daughter had tried and her arm was tired, I wasn’t sure if the choke should be in or out and the idle should up high or low. We were stuck.
We took the decision to paddle home, now that kilometre looked an awfully long kilometre and I swear the wind got up a little just to make it more difficult. We had never had to use the paddles in anger before and so this was going to be an interesting exercise.
We unshipped the paddles, and my daughter and I did the paddling from the rear of the boat. The boat went relatively quickly but the shore looked a very long way away. We decided to paddle into the shore and then around close to the beach on our way to the marina and boat ramp. This was a longer distance than right across the bay to the channel marks, but it would make everyone feel better.
We paddled no more than a hundred yards, when two gents turned up in front of us in a similar size boat to ours. They offered to tow us back to the marina. We accepted and soon we were heading back to the marina under the tow of fellow fishermen.
After thanking them for their help they headed back out to catch those elusive big ones that we had left them. We packed the boat on the trailer and headed home.
The boat was booked in to the mechanics on Monday for an annual tune up and checks; now there was really something to fix. When I got it back from the mechanic, he told me the power pack had broken. I nodded knowingly, and asked if it happened often. He said no it was quite rare and he could not give me a reason why it had broken.
He gave me back the old power pack; I am not sure what for. I suspect it was by way of an apology for the outrageous price he charged me for the new one. It turns out a power pack is a black box with lots of wires hanging out of it. I thought it might be when he first told me it was broken; you see I have a fair amount of mechanical know how. I was also grateful that we did not own a much bigger motor. The mechanic had pointed to the boat next to me and told me his power pack had broken to and it had cost that bloke five times more. Sometimes you just thank your lucky stars.