Thursday, 3 July 2014

As fisherfolk, we make great sailors. :) (Eden and Bermagui)

THURSDAY 3rd July  to Eden

The beautiful sunset before our most horrible night sail so far!!
A little bit about Eden

The trip to Eden was a super long one (28 hours) and completely unpleasant, as my previous post indicates. The seas were, in a word, CRAPPY. Horrible, rolling, wavy, vomit inducing shite. Yep... that pretty much covers the sentiment.

We were only in Eden overnight and I only have a couple of photos so I shan't dwell on it except to say that we did meet a wonderful couple, Selina and Dave (yes ANOTHER Dave) and had a lovely dinner and chat with them at the local fish and chippery. I will say that where we were docked really tested the knee goblins to their full extent as we had to negotiate slippery timbers and great height in order to get from the boat deck up onto the jetty. It reminded me of Goolwa when the water disappeared and the 6' climb we had to get up on to the jetty there from our little 20' Austral.

I would have liked to stay a little longer but we had to leave with the weather so the next morning we were off again. Oh and happy birthday to my darling girl Sarah!!
Venture, 2nd from the right. It was an okay spot but when the tide went out it was a long climb back down into the boat
Fish and chips with our new best buds :D Selina and ... yes you guessed it.... another Dave!!
Boyds Tower is located at Red Point, on the southern headland of Twofold Bay.

This historic 5-storey sandstone tower was built in 1846 from stone shipped from Pyrmont in Sydney. Ben Boyd intended The Tower to be used as a lighthouse to guide home his fleet of ships, but permission to light it was refused by the government of the day. It was later used as a vantage point for whale spotters.

FRIDAY July 4th - TUESDAY July 8th to Bermagui
We left Eden for Bermagui (pronounced Ber-ma-goo-ee) at around 8am, expecting to be all tied up and relaxing before dark. Alas, t'was not to be as we found ourselves trying desperately to beat the sun as we hurtled (okay maybe hurtled is a little bit of a stretch.... perhaps chugged... oh fine.... crawled!) against a strong current. 

Just a couple of the dolphins that kept us company on this part of the trip.
It wasn't all bucolic boredom and motionless monotony because,much to our amazement and something that bumped the thrill meter to 9 for a short time, there were.... WHALES! Yes, actual whales (maybe just one actually but I remain positive) way out in the distance, barely visible but still there. Dave caught sight of a breach but missed the photo opportunity and I managed to see some blow sprays and tail splashes. We got a few photos but only one showed true evidence... and that's more than enough! I just wish we could have been closer but I really didn't mind too much.

IT'S A WHALE TAIL!! Yes, it's a long way off but it's there. :)
The best spot in the marina. Very lucky.

By the time we reached the narrow entrance to the small harbour at Bermagui that was home to more boats than it seemed plausible to hold, from small yachts and runabouts through to huge trimarans and massive commercial fishing trawlers, it was full dark. We were trying to follow the leads into the entrance, which was fine except that the place was lit up like Carnivale in spring and the reflections of all those lights in the water made it feel as though we were heading into a blinding kaleidoscope. The further we inched into the bay, the more confusing it became as we searched out amongst the many vessel filled fingers and docks and moorings and rafted boats, the T-head upon which we were to tie up. Our eyes darted like those of a chameleon on speed, everywhere at once until suddenly, to our right, appeared the glorious sight on one long, lovely T-head on a new floating dock and to top of the relief, it was dead easy to get to and tie off. Our first night approach and tie down was a complete success and though stressful, it felt good. 

The following morning Dave got up early to look for public toilets and just to scope things out. For someone who nowadays thinks that 7am is the devil's time, it was almost all I could do to drown out the background noise and grab a few more zzzzzz's.  

 When Dave came back and I'd had a couple of cups of the old wake up nectar, we ventured along to the docks and upstairs to one of the lovely cafes that overlooks the water to watch the goings on. The early morning gumbooted fishermen had come in with their catches and the docks and wharf were buzzing with the sounds of forklifts hefting big plastic containers filled with a variety of fresh seafood and trailers piled with huge yellow fin tuna being towed along behind tractors. For a small port, it was full of action.
The fish cooperative is an important part of Bermagui's history and future
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Multiple boats rafted up in the bay. We were exceptionally lucky not to have to do this.
Yellow fin tuna fresh off the boat and on their way to the market The large plastic crates are also full of fish.
One of the tuna fleet heading out
Zane Grey. Some important fishing dude.
We then wandered further along the wharf area and strolled down some of the docks to look at the boats. Dave, much to my surprise, admired a catamaran. They've never been a favourite of his but this one just caught his attention. I figured he just needed a strong coffee. We walked quite a bit further and found ourselves at the breakwater where we had entered the night before. It looked to be a tight squeeze but we figured that if these massive tuna boats manoeuvre in and out day and night with no problem, then for us it was a doddle.

Another view of the breakwater and entrance. When entering or exiting the small harbour, the boats must keep to the right of the tree side of the inlet where that small boat is. It's pretty narrow.
The edge of the breakwater leading into Bermagui.
The Bruce Steer Pool next to the breakwater
Yet more ways to die. Gawd!!

For the next few days we hopped on the bikes and explored the hamlet of Bermagui and found it to be a thoroughly charming place that was actually a lot bigger than we first realised with a lovely bakery and a small supermarket.

We saw our first beach-side 'swimming pools' in the shape of the Bruce Steer Pool which was flanked on one side by the breakwater and the Blue Pool a little further around the coast. These pools meant safe swimming was possible in an area where I can imagine the seas to be quite treacherous at times. 



The Blue pool and the steps leading down to it. It's a lovely sheltered area with tables and chair and flat spots where you can lay a towel.


Waves crashing over the pool wall with the overflow filling the lower of the pools.

During our time at the dock's T-head, several people, including some really young kids and their granddad came and fished from a tiny decked bit that was directly at the back of the boat. We soon found out why. Underneath the boat and the dock and easily seen in the beautifully clear water, were literally hundreds upon hundreds of bait fish, all about 8cm – 10cm long. At one stage a small fishing boat pulled alongside and rafted up to us, lowered down baited lines (no need to cast.... it was basically drop'n'catch) and pulled in fish after fish until they had enough to use to attract the small amount of larger fish they were going out to catch. They were nice enough to give us some squid as bait just in case we felt like having a go.

Just a few of the many hundreds of stupid fish under our boat
So, what do you do when you have seen a little 5 year old girl catching these abundant fish using nothing but bread as bait? Naturally you try it yourself and since we had real bait that we knew worked, we figured it would be easy and we may be able to use the fish to catch ourselves something bigger for dinner.

We prepped the line and carefully baited the hook with some squid and then decided it might be interesting to film the catch so we got the little underwater camera ready for all the action and then dropped the line. Well, you've never seen a school of fish scatter so quickly as those fish did! It looked exactly like a sheen of oil does when a drop of detergent is plopped into the middle of it. Those fish shot away from the hook quicker than a blink until they formed a perfect ring, swimming around and around the bait. Not a single fish ventured nearer than about 40cm and we realised in that moment that we are perhaps the most crap fisherpersons ever. It made for an interesting video and our laughter can be heard even though the camera was submersed. I think vegetarianism is a distinct possibility.

We did a lot of cycling/walking, exploring the edges of the coast and discovered some lovely places along the way. Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure. :D

The view out through the breakwater entrance.
A layer of early morning mist covers the sea.
The gorgeous view across the bay.
A wider shot of the same view. It was breathtaking.
Some of the rugged and rocky shoreline along the western side of the town.
And more of the rocky bits.
And more, with rock-pools.
And... you guessed it.... more of the rocky, rugged, rock-pooled shore.
Perhaps not the best place for a bench that's supposed to be looking out over the beach. Like... worst view ever!
And this is the view one is meant to see from that bench. Time to trim the shrubbery methinks!
The day before we left we went to the Bermagui Country Club (oh yes dahhhhling... the club eh what!) for a shower, since these appeared to be the only public facilities in town. The woman in charge was lovely and didn't charge us, which was unusual but welcome. The showers are fairly ordinary but they were hot. Once again we prepared ourselves to leave in the morning.

And before I go.... some birds. :)

A heron that had made it's home on the dock we were in. Seriously, this bird had attitude!
And last but not least, another magnificent pelican, one of the many, many in the harbour that would wait patiently for the amateur fishermen to come in and clean up their catch across the harbour from us and toss the scraps to the waiting maws.


  1. What are you talking about woman? That's a fabulous view of a very close bush!

    1. Well.. yes... it was a lovely shrubbery but due to its shrubberyness, it was not really conducive to seeing the ocean. :)