Glory Days

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Thought I’d write a story about a Snapper fishing trip from years ago as I listen to Led Zeppelin – Houses Of Holly album (1975).
Four of us decided to go on a Pelouers sounds trip chasing snapper. Peter Lamb, Craig Harrison, Alister Gemmell and I, all W.A.S.C members in the hay day of the club, back in the mid 80”s.
After a lot of talk and a lot of drinking, it was decided we would go for 2 weeks over xmas. We got all our gear together e.g-camping and fishing gear, food, beer and more beer and of course the good old whiskey. We caught the ferry down and made our way too Havelock, then a boat to Richmond bay, just around the corner from Beatrice Bay…..snapper country. The mood was high as we all knew we were going to catch good fish. We arrived at Havelock in the evening and stayed aboard the boat for an early morning start. We decided to hit the pub, well what can I say… was a great night. After much drinking Gemmis (Alister) thought it would be a great idea to jump off the wharf pissed as a chook. This set the trip in motion.
We arrived the next day at our destination and unloaded all of our gear, christ we took some stuff with us. We set up camp and decided to go for a quick fish. It was blue cod for dinner as we had no meat, so we ate what we caught. I think it was on the second night a storm hit and it was a cracker. I slept through it but remember being woken up by Craig as our tent had fallen down around us. The gully we set up camp in had turned into a torrent and it was a mad rush to salvage all the fishing and camping gear. We ended up moving it all to a cabin that the land owner let us use. I think he took pity on us. The following morning we got everything sorted and set off for the day. Peter and Gemmis went out to the left hand side of the bay, Craig and I went to the right and didn’t catch to much that day except for blue cod and spotties (a spottie with a 10/0 hook in it squashed is great snapper bait) as is blue cod heads.

We were offered a ride by boat round to the saddle in Beatrice Bay, so we jumped at the opportunity. It was supposed to be a day trip. Pete and Gemmis fished a really good ledge while Craig and I set off to fish elsewhere. During the day we caught a few snapper, nothing to great, so we decided to head back to meet up with the other guys. The weather started to turn and the water got a good chop on it, but not to worry as the boat would be here soon. Well the boat didn’t arrive as the weather was too rough. We had to stay the night at the saddle as it was about a 8 hour walk through dense scrub. That night the weather was so bad we gathered drift wood and stacked up against the cliff face to try and get some shelter from the wind and rain, the only problem was there was only enough room for 2 people. But we did have a cask of wine which helped us through. Earlier in the evening we had managed to get a fire going on the beach, so we cooked up some fish and tried to keep warm. At about 10pm we decided to get some sleep, not easy to do when the wind and rain is driving into your face. Around 1-2am we woke up to what we thought was a mad man running around our camp going berserk, only to find out it was Gemmis. “All my #@&# gear is gone”. What the hell is going on we all thought? It wasn’t until he calmed down that we found out what he was going on about. You see when we lit the fire we used the drift wood off a very small beach (approx 10 meters buy 3 meters). We all sat our packs and fishing gear up against the bank. Unbeknown to us, there was a log under the sand (under our fire) which burnt approx 5-6 meters underground until it reached the bank where Gemmis had his pack and fishing gear sitting. Approx $5000 worth of fishing gear had gone up in smoke in one night and as you can imagine he was not a happy camper. After every one calmed down dawn broke and the weather was still crap and still no boat at this stage. The rain had stopped and the sun was out. We had no water left but found a trickle in a rock, so we took turns with a coke bottle lid collecting the water. What a mission! After a while we decided to draw straws to see who was going to walk out to get help as we were starting to get desperate. Pete and I were the lucky ones so we started walking, or bush bashing our way through (one of the hardest things I’ve had to do). We managed to go approx 100-150 meters in an hour when we saw a boat coming around the headland. Great what do we do, keep climbing up or head back to the guys? So we started to head back. As we were climbing our way back down the boat picked up Craig and Gemmis and started to leave. We were yelling like mad but they didn’t hear us (or so we thought). Turns out they were just mucking around. We decided to climb on top off the braken bush and go for it straight down the hill to the water’s edge. Pretty hairy thing to do as it’s really steep. We got back to camp and told the farmer what had happened to Gemmis’ fishing gear. He was kind enough to arrange transport for him to go home. Nothing left to do except get on the piss big time. The following day Gemmis left so Pete, Craig and myself carried on with the fishing trip.
We headed over the hill to fish the other side of the saddle about a 4 hour walk. Not a problem so we loaded the gear and off we went. We got to where we were going to fish when Peter sprained his ankle. We were in the middle of nowhere, oh great here we go again. So while Pete laid down in the shade, Craig and I fished as it wasn’t our problem, or so we thought. Well at the end of the day Craig and I drew straws again to see who was going to get help, as Pete wasn’t able to walk out. Craig lost and started walking, funny thing is about 1 hour later a trawler come around the corner and there was Craig on the boat with a beer in hand. In the next bay around was a house and the owners Gift and Sally were only too happy to help so we went back to their place. And what a place it was. Completely hand built, Gift had milled all his own timber. They bred rabbits, worms and harvested mussels. What a life. Later we jumped on the trailer behind the tractor and off we went back to camp. We headed home after that as we didn’t want to risk what could happen next.
Alister Gemmell was a good man who left us too early in life. He was swept off the rocks in Sydney and treaded water for 1.5 hours because the rescue boat went to the wrong bay. Poor guy, he was a mate

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One Response to “Glory Days”

  1. Paul in NZ says:

    Bloody good story – reminds me of the stuff my old man got up to.

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