Who would have thought we would have an unfortunate incident at Lake Barambah as we headed for the weekend fishing trip the said Lake Barambah, or Bjelke Peterson Dam, or whatever you want to call it? This lake and dam is situated about 200 kilometres from our place to the North West. It’s one of many irrigation dams in Queensland that are generously stocked with native fresh-water fish and also have an abundance of red claw (native fresh water lobster type things).
Our little tin boat had not seen water in a year. Worse still, not been near a mechanic in over three. A little hard to start, I decided it was time for a service, booking it in for a boat kind of treat. I cleaned up the inside and outside, charged the batteries, fixed the navigation lights and check the depth sounder.
The fishing gear had a complete once over, sorted , repacked, polished, and drooled over. This is going to be a fantastic weekend with a nice comfortable cabin in the evenings. Number one was excited as me. She had her fishing gear organised and in tip-top condition. We are ready to go.
The journey is about 200 kilometres one route and 245 another. We travelled the longer route as we hadn’t driven a good portion of this road before. Nervous about towing the boat trailer as it had sat around for a year, I took it slowly. It towed like a dream. We passed through rolling green hills dotted with small farms and villages. This is a horse riding mecca and part of the Heritage Trail.
We arrived at the magnificent campgrounds checked in, unloaded our gear and headed to the lake edge. Our strategy for tomorrow’s fishing competition included getting the boat on the water today, dropping some pots for Red Claw, and looking for some suitable spots for fish.
With plenty of space on the lake edge to lower the boat trailer into the water, we soon had the tinny in the water, trailer parked and crew on board. The moment of truth. I pulled the starter, and it fired up immediately. Fantastic, running like a dream, put it into reverse and backed out, fantastic. There were boats like ours all around us getting started. I had to scamper to keep out of their way. Back it out, then move it into forward and we are out of here.
“Fuck”, sorry my English is limited when things don’t go right, no forward gear.
Try again to put it into neutral, then reverse, watch for other boats which are looming up around us and try again. Move to forward gear.
Number one is making noises very similar to panic although I am assured this was not panic but just advice, this is the forerunner too much advice this weekend.
“Fuck” Sorry, there is that word again, just slipped out.
“Why don’t you go forward”, more advice from my most important crew member.
“It won’t go forward only backward.”
“I want to go home” I think this might be mutiny, the crew has an aversion to boats that only go backwards.
Determined to enjoy this afternoon, I tried a couple more times. The level of panic from my Number One was now growing louder and more shrill, I had to reverse us to the shore and put the boat back on the trailer.
Our crowd was arriving at the lake and word was getting out that we were in trouble with the boat, I had put it on the pad by our cabin, opened a beer and popped the top off the motor in a vein hope that wobbling something or cursing at it with the lid open might fix our forward gear.
A small crowd gathered, giving significant advice to me and each other about what might be wrong. The multitude regaled each other with stories of other great “boat won’t go fishing stories”. I was losing the attention of my group, especially when news came through that one of our mob had their boat rear-ended on the journey here. A much worse disaster than ours and sympathy for us waned, and the crowd dissipated.
I rang the establishment that serviced my boat to see if they could help.
After an hour or so, I finally got hold of the mechanic who maintained the motor. He had me work through several issues, it could have been. He offered to come and fix it until I pointed out we were a three-hour drive away and his enthusiasm died a little at this point.
“Bring it on Monday and I will look at it, ” Ben the mechanic said apologetically.
That was that, away for the weekend fishing and no boat to fish from. Fortunately, I got a place on another boat but my crew missed out, very sad and had to spend the afternoon drinking with newfound friends.
For those who have any interest still at this point, the boat was fixed in 20 minutes; it turned out to be a bad adjustment on the gear mechanism which could have been fixed without even opening the motor, or a beer.
Oh, and I caught a poor old turtle, even then I foul hooked him through the tail while trawling. There were no fish at all.