Captain Steve of the Coast Watch vessel on guard at Ashmore, a congenial fellow who was happy to see fresh faces to talk to, told us about the surf at Ashmore. He wasn’t a surfer, he said, but the skipper of the Australian patrol boat that did regular sea patrols in the area was a keen surfer. The navy captain timed his patrols so he could anchor up at Ashmore during swells to go surfing all by himself. He had the ultimate dinghy service.
“He surfed right over there,” Steve said, pointing his cold beer in the direction of the main channel entrance. “Coming up to one Christmas, the surf was too good so he stayed over schedule. The crew mutinied. They wanted to get home.”
A late afternoon sun burnished the sea. An easterly wind that wasn’t strong enough to be trades groomed the lines of a swell starting to show on the southern stretch of reef, but there was no white water anywhere around the channel entrance.
The next day, Mike and I went diving. We had a compressor and gear on board the Hati Murnih. As I said, there was another vessel at Ashmore with a bunch of scientists studying the banded sea-snake. Mike and I saw hundreds of these things, swimming up and down like ribbons. We later talked to one of the scientists and I said I was sure glad the snakes couldn’t open their mouths wide enough to bite a human. He chortled genially as science experts do and said that sea snakes could bite you anywhere they wanted, it was just that they were docile and not genetically programmed to do so. But, on rate occasion, they do bite. And you’re dead.
We’d caught a wahoo earlier, fresh fillets on ice, and for dinner we invited Steve over from his grand spit-and-polished ship with its air-conditioned salon and well-stocked galley for dining al fresco off our coconut husk barbecue, by the light of kerosene lantern. Chilled bintangs from the eskie. After the wining and dining, Mike put it to him, as only one Aussie can to another, “Hey, mate, about letting us sail around the reef and go fishing and having a look.”
Sure, no worries, said Steve, except do not go ashore on the eastern islet (see photo) or go reef-walking. Strictly prohibited by marine reserve law, nothing I can do about that.
Fair enough, although reef-walking sometimes can’t be avoided if you lose your board or get caught inside, but we didn’t spell that out for him.
Next morning we woke to a pure glass sheet conditions and a medium-sized five foot swell, but not quite enough oomph or angle to wrap into the channel entrance, although we did see the potential.
Now, let me say this: I am uncomfortable with x-marks-the-spot type public surf reporting. So in I will keep things general, but anybody who is well-schooled in surf search will see the obvious potential points on the photo above.
What we first did, though, was throw out the trolling lines. We had two rods. In a minute we got a double hook-up. Ten minutes later, another double hook-up, but losing the fight on one on them, reeling in GT head about the size of a washtub. Something bigger with really sharp teeth had gobbled the rest in one bite.
Hmmm. Food for thought, you know.
(to be continued—blog posts shouldn’t be more than 500 words. More surf to come.)
(Note from your blog correspondent as author: If you’ve read Bones of the Dark Moon (see the new cover I put up for the Amazon Kindle edition on the sidebar to this blog) and have an Amazon account, it’d be very much appreciated if you could take a minute to write a brief review of the book and post it. You can post your review here: scroll down and look for the click button that says “write a customer review”.
The 50th anniversary of the 1965 mass murders is coming up next year, and reviews greatly help in getting the novel noticed in western countries. )