With the ANZAC day events on tomorrow we headed for the Wallabi group for a reverse trip. So with the wind behind us we had a smooth ride all the way to Turtle Bay where we eased right into the trip. Walk, a beachcomb and a snorkel was a good way to get orientated with the unique Abrolhos environment. While we were being lazy on the beach, Jay was out fishing and setting the pots. They came back in with a bag of fish and while the others were upstairs having sundowners on the top deck while we relocated closer to Big Pidgeon for a good possie for the dawn service.
The crew were up at 5am getting the boats ready to go ashore to Big Pidgeon’s school for the ANZAC Dawn Service. It was a beautiful morning with a light easterly that blew the Australian flag in the school playground away from the first light of dawn. We had a very special ceremony presented and hosted by former school students of Big Pidgeon Primary who invited some well-known locals such as Spaggs, Butch and Tiffany O’byrne for some heart felt readings. The ceremony was finished off with a Ukulele version of Hallelujah and an acoustic version of “I was only 19”. When the sun was up we downed a nip of rum courtesy of Spaggs and Butch, we then headed back to the Eco for a cooked Breakfast. After a belly full of breaky, the majority headed for an adventure at Webbie Hayes Fort and the others went fishing with Jay. We rendezvoused with the King Diver for lunch and we headed west to West Side on West Wallabi Island for two up. We went past some big coral bommies on the way in with perfect visibility, this spot was one we’ve kept on the back burner for a good opportunity and today seemed like one of those opportunities. It was a first for all of us crew and it definitely was not a let down. The corals were amazing, pristine with beautiful colours all around. When the crew are having as much fun or more then the passengers, that’s when you know it’s good, even I got in and you never see a skipper get wet. We rallied everyone up and quickly moved to our overnight anchorage which was less then a kilometre away. Off again, we headed to the two up where things really heated up. We enjoyed some afternoon drinks with the locals. To be amongst the good spirits and to see the rowdiness of the two up was a unique experience. When everyone was finished we retired back to the Eco for a platter and to watch the sunset while all the other boats headed back home.
We started off we a pretty dismal cray pot pull. Only 5 this morning but we weren’t going to let that set the tone for the day. We had a bit of travelling to do today so we thought we’d break it up with a stop into Beacon Island for some of Jays ghost stories. When everyone was back on board we headed for Easter Group where we went straight to Morley to see our first Sea Lion, the Lesser Noddy’s and go for a snorkel. Meanwhile Jay took a select group fishing and to set the pots for the next days catch. The swell was on the way down so Jay thought why not go to his old stomping ground which is called No-Man’s land for a reason. Normally with any sort of swell it breaks in 2 directions and only the brave or the stupid ever put pots there as a rule. Once set they dropped the lines hoping for the endemic Baldachin Groper, a couple were caught but were chased up by some local Tiger Sharks which followed them to every spot from there on until another boat came past and stopped in front of them to see what the fuss was about. Jay took that as a gift letting them attract the sharks so we could slip off to another spot far away. Well the day only got better with a mixed bag of Dhufish to 10 kilos, baldies to 5 Kilos and an assortment of good size snappers and Chinamen to top up the bag limit. As soon as everyone was back on board we raced off to Little Sandy for sunset drinks surrounded by more Sea Lions. Easter Group definitely is the mecca for them. We witnessed another beautiful Indian Ocean sunset and headed back to the boat for Steve’s famous Pork Belly.
Another amazing morning greets us with a late start. ( 7.30 ) After the banter of the big fish catch the day before Jay had 8 fishers on the list with more wanting to join but we had to cap it there so the tangles would be minimal. They bagged out with Dhufish again, 2x 12 kilo Dhuies and a mixed bag of all sorts including a monster Spangled Emperor from Kate on her honeymoon. After the fishing session it was time for the pot pull and they weren’t disappointed with 106 size crays out of the 6 pots, an average of 17 crays per pot and very big ones at that. No-mans land produces like no other. [Written by Jay]
While Jay was out there trying to relive the old days we walked and snorkelled Wooded Island where we saw a variety of birds, one of importance being the Lesser Noddy. After we headed off to Big Rat where Murry showed us around his pearl hatchery. We were fortunate enough to have his partner Pia Boschetti there with a Japanese technician who showed us how they artificially inseminate the Pearl into the Oyster with a 1x1mm speck of “Mother of Pearl Shell” which the Oyster grabs and starts to form the Pearl itself. We were treated to some of Pia’s finest Pearl Jewellery and got to hear a few stories of how Murray and herself came to be. Once back on board we ate a massive Dhu fish lunch on the way to Southern Group. Steve our chef said it was the best tasting fish he’s ever had so that must be saying something. Once at Southern Group we went into see the locals on Bassille Island and fed the Samson fish. After a tour by Peter, Nino and Peter Armstrong we were back on board and we were treated to an amazing sunset like no other we have seen this season. The colour spectrum lit up the whole skyline while we watched it set behind Bassille Island.
So I kicked the old man off the King Diver this morning as I set the pots yesterday afternoon. I hadn’t had a turn in a very long time since I’ve been back as I am always on the big boat so I was making the most of it and the pressure was on too as i had the girlfriend on board for the first time to see the pots be pulled. In gentleman fashion, I didn’t disappoint. UP THEY COME! Big tasty coral crays with a nice dark red/purple colour. We got 46 size in total and kept our biggest 24. Its nice when you get to choose which ones you want. As we were heading back to the Eco I spotted a pod of whales just to put the cherry on the top. They came up close enough to the back of the boat for us to have a good look. We suspect they were either Minke’s or Southern Right Whales. After frolicking with whales we zipped into Post Office Island for a tour with Jane Liddon and her grandson Arlo who skipped school so he could show us around. Jane told us all about her pearling operation and Arlo showed us around to Janes camp where Mikayla and herself had a wide range of Jewellery and crafts all inspired by what surrounds them. After the women were finished buying a Pearl souvenir we headed over to the Nook for one last snorkel before we departed the Abrolhos for the last time until September. The last leg home was an easy one for us, a beautiful deep blue silk ocean glided the Eco back into town.
Congratulations to Blair and Jay for nailing the biggest Dhuie’s we’ve seen all year.
Part 1 of the Abrolhos season is done and dusted. We’re already itching at the bite to get back out in October for Whale and bird season but until then the Kimberley’s will have to suffice.
From the Bridge Deck
– Bronson Cox