On previous occasions I have professed there are some people that bad things just happen when in their company . Gazza is one of those people, this is an account of such an occasion.He arrived to go fishing. I didn’t immediately think of him as the instigator or the catalyst for each event, it’s just if you sit back and reflect on the overall set of circumstances the evidence becomes overwhelming. There possibly is a Gazza Curse phenomenon, its effect is to turn the simple things into complex things and then nudge them to the edge of disaster..
We have two very different fishing experiences planned spread over two separate weeks. First, a camping canoeing trip in the beautiful Noosa Everglades, and the second we would tow my dingy 470 kilometers north to Agnes Waters to fish and crab in the estuary at Seventeen-seventy.
Fishing the Noosa river didn’t throw up any particularly unusual situations although the breaking of my expensive rod tip, was nothing to do with him I am sure, nor was the loosing of the plug for the icebox rendering it useless for carrying ice and cold food something directly attributed to him. I didn’t put a question mark on him when my iPod Classic decided never to work again after it completely ran out of battery, but now I think back and wonder if these incidents were just the beginning of the Gazza Curse. Especially as after Gazza left my iPod suddenly started working again. Interesting.
Anyway, all of that happened on our paddle up the Upper Noosa river and by in large apart from these few things was successful.
Immediately after the river trip, we had planned to head to a place called Agnes Waters. Turn around time between coming off the river and heading North was very short. Planning is everything. We were to get home late Sunday afternoon and be on the road again by 10am Monday. We would tow my tin boat behind the Nissan Patrol and head the 470 kilometers to Agnes Waters.
While at home we had to unload all the camping and fishing gear, prepare the boat for travel, then reload and pack different gear for the next segment. Some of this equipment had to move from our river fishing gear to the boat fishing gear. I tried to separate the items when unloading to make it easier when reloading for a road trip. Confused, well, I was by the time I had finished unloading and re-stacking. It appears somebody, and I am not pointing any fingers here, had put a load of, “not going with us to Agnes”, on top of a load of “going with us to Agnes.” You know what kind of muddle this could lead to, and you would be right.
The boat needed a bit of preparation, a cleat that held the bimini (pop up awning over the boat), had come adrift. I set Gazza at riveting a new cleat to replace it. A simple task I would have thought for an ex engineer as he constantly reminds me. It took less than a minute for Gazza to jam the rivet gun. Good one now we have to repair the rivet gun to fix the bimini. I don’t like where this is going. Perhaps I should have done a bit of prep in the weeks before Gazza arrived.
Oh well, after the drama of fixing rivet gun to fix the bimini, sorting out the safety chain and getting all the gear in, we were off with a hiss and a roar. It felt good to get on the road again, heading north into certain catches of large mud crabs and buckets of big fish.
About fifty kilometers into our trip when my wife, “the Boss” sprang with the question.
“Did you put in the fishing board and filleting knife? ”
“Ummmm don’t specifically remember” I was going through the packing in my mind and my stomach sank, I knew the answer was actually “No.” I later found out that this gear was under a box of stuff we were not taking. Now we were going fishing for a week without the main fishing gear. Brilliant!
Another mistake, the Gazza affect or curse or whatever you call it, was taking hold.
Our trip North was incident free, we booked into our more than comfortable suite, it’s absolutely ideal with a modern kitchen, big fridge and a great BBQ on our patio. Comfortable with accommodation, we set about organizing our fishing and crabbing.
Gazza and I took the boat out. The wind was awful, and it wasn’t really very pleasant. As soon as I put the boat in the water, I realized the fish finder and depth finder had gone on the blink. Bugger this would make planting pots difficult we would need to look at that when we got back. This also prevented us from going too far up the river, as I wasn’t sure how much water was beneath us and the wind made staying in one spot difficult.
We dropped some pots up the estuary and then found a fishing spot, surprisingly catching a couple of reasonable size cat-fish. We weren’t sure if they were worth eating, but we took them home, anyway. Finding my way back in the shallowing water we passed by a red mark, I must have taken the bend too sharp because the next thing I know, my motor has is jumping out of the water screaming and then crashing back and then following the pattern, I attempted to turn the dingy but the motor flying in the air made steering somewhat tricky. I tried to cut the motor, but the little red button just bounced out of my hand as the motor took another flight. The look on Gazza’s face was priceless. He burst into a tirade of demented instructions, a sign of panic in the crew. I was more panicking than making rational decisions. As quickly as the motor bouncing started, it stopped. I embarrassingly headed back into the center of the channel. No more shortcuts for me.
Back at our accommodation, we managed to fix the depth finder and sort out a couple of other minor issues. The next day we had planned to put pots down and leave them overnight.
The weather had not being playing ball, the wind still blustery blowing on shore, today it had calmed a little and we decided to take “The Boss” out with us to fish and to check and reset crab pots. We ran up the port side of Round Hill Creek, laying the pots between some boats anchored about 1/2 kilometer up the estuary. On shore wind made positioning the boat a little difficult, but not too difficult.
Our fishing was a dismal with a couple of flounder, we picked a couple of keepers sand crabs but no good size muddies. A great day anyway, despite the wind. Contemplating lunch and drinks, we headed back to the boat ramp. Gazza and I sent “The Boss” up to get the vehicle to back it down to pick up the boat. Standing around watching the empty trailer moving towards Gazza, I heard a guy shouting. It was hard to understand what he was saying, but by the time the trailer had arrived at the bottom of the ramp, it was clear. The left rear tyre of my vehicle was completely flat.
In the car park above the ramp, we studied the tyre. It was difficult to see the reason for the flat, so we replaced it with the spare. The Gazza Curse well. I don’t know, the guy at the tire repair place told me someone had deliberately slashed it.
Over night the weather didn’t get any better. By the time Gazza and I went to pick up pots, the wind was strong. To make it worse, bursts of rain were drenching us. We laid the pot in the channel between the boats on the starboard and mangrove swamp to port.
With only a rough idea of where the pots were, no surprise that when we arrived in the area we couldn’t find them, I spotted one close to a big moored white boat; we left that for now and search for the others. With the gusting wind I could see difficulty getting my boat into a suitable position to pick that pot up.
Tangled in mangrove roots was a float that looked like one of our pots. We left that as well. Probably wasn’t mine, anyway. We moved on up the channel and found a pot, and with difficulty retrieved. One crashed back to the bottom while pulling it up, the rope clearly tampered with it was now separated from the float. Out of six pots we had two back on board, and four missing. One was by the boat that I had passed and we still had a float we had seen in mangroves. That might be ours.
We went for the mangrove float. I nudged the tinny as close as I dare to the mangroves. Now we could see our markings clearly. Gazza reached forward with the hook to grab the string. You may think at this point he fell in, but he didn’t. He made rather loud frustrated utterances directed at me. That should have been a sign of things to come. My focus was on preventing us from being blown among the mangroves, stranding us out here on a stinking mud flat. It took several attempts, but we grabbed the float only to find the float was not connected to a pot. Cut free deliberately? Now we were down three pots.
Back to the big white boat which is guarding our last pot. I had seen our pot buoy on the way up Round Hill Creek it had been about three meters to the stern of the moored boat, which was facing up the river with the ebb tide, By the time we got back the float was directly at the stern, we could see the line still clear of obstruction however we had a gusty wind with squally showers pushing us into this expensive launch.
Gazza worked the front with the hook to snag the rope. I tried to steer between the buoy and the transom. He went to snag when a decent gust of wind shifted us towards the launch. I had to power out to avoid hitting the boat, and it all turned to cactus. Next thing I know we’re alongside the launch facing the same way as it, with the rope to the pot wrapped around the outboard prop. There is only one thing for a kiwi to say in these circumstances “Bugger”.
With the motor cut, I needed Gazza to stay calm and hold us off the launch while I hung over the back to reach the rope and untangle it. The loudness could gauge the panic levels in the crew. It was barking nonsense orders. We were close to mutiny. I realized the crew member believed I was incompetent. Instantly I abdicate responsibility and gave in to his mutinous behaviour. I screamed over the wind and rain to switch places. This activity in a little tin boat has its dangers fortunately we achieved it with only banging in to the side of the other boat a few of times.
Intensifying wind was now blowing heavy rain at us. My crew member produced a multi-tool knife, cackled to himself and bent over the back of the boat, muttering and cackling in equal measure. The panic was taking a deep toll of his mental disposition. He popped back up with a smile on his face and severed rope in hand.
Cut free without a motor running, the squall was blowing us towards the mud flats. We needed to switch places and start the dam motor. We didn’t know if the prop would go round as it had the pot string wrapped around the shaft.
Switching places caused some violent rocking of our aluminum platform. Fortunately, the Mercury fired up and slipped in to gear and the prop struggled its way around as we just fended off the shore and headed straight into the teeth of the squall. Panic was never far from the surface. The motor struggled with the jammed string. The wind and rain didn’t let up. We watched silently as the boat ramp grew slowly closer.
The utterance from the crew was “Must be time to pop a bottle”. I grunted and focused on the boat ramp.
The Gazza curse or just bad luck?