Hawkesbury River Rescue

It started off as a rather routine Easter fishing day trip to Mooney Mooney with Warren.

It was a very foggy morning, worse than I’ve ever seen it on the Hawkesbury. Approaching Mooney Mooney, a road sign said that the boat ramp was closed so we made a detour to Brooklyn boat ramp. That put us about an hour behind.

On one of the islands, we saw the odd scene of a really large tent and a really small kayak. We chatted with the guy (whose name was Dong), and his wife Lin, for about 10 minutes before he casually requested that we rescue them as their inflatable boat disappeared in the middle of the night.

Since the outboard was still at the campsite, we thought it was very unlikely it had been stolen. They had just pulled it up high onto the shore. They had called 000 (the Aussie equivalent of 911) who weren’t interested in rescuing them. It was also a shame that my VHF marine radio was out of service with a dead battery so I couldn’t use it to call Marine Rescue. We said we would go fishing and come back for them. When he mentioned he was from Wollongong, I correctly guessed he worked at Wollongong University.

The fishing was tough but we got a nice bream just as we were about to change spots.

It became a nice day as the fog cleared. There were many logs and other debris in the river due to the recent floods. The water was a dark brown colour.

After fishing for a couple of hours, I called them and said we would be there in 20 min. During the call, I hooked a nice flathead but it bit through the leader within inches of the boat. That’s the second consecutive flathead I’ve lost right at the net.

When we arrived, everything was already packed in the kayak. Warren and I were a bit worried about all the stuff in it and suggested putting the outboard in the boat.

Anyway, Dong said not to worry so off we went.

Another boat created a large wake, which we carefully negotiated. We were just starting to get confident and travelling at about 4 knots.

Then the kayak flipped over. We tried to get it upright but it was too heavy to do so from the boat. We carefully towed it to the beach, going so slow that at one point Warren asked if we were moving forward. Unfortunately, at some point we lost the outboard. We took everything out of the kayak and let the water drain away a bit before putting everything in the boat. The tent took three people to lift.

With nothing in the kayak, we got up to 15 knots on a plane when the tow rope snapped. Definitely a comedy of errors. We decided not to push things any further and limped back at 4 knots.

When we arrived at the Mooney Mooney boat ramp (which was still closed), marine rescue prevented us from docking as they were towing a broken boat. They took about 20 minutes to do this simple operation and we could easily have gone in and unloaded all our stuff in parallel.

Following the rescue we managed to catch one more bream in the middle of the day before going home. It was quite an eventful trip and we made some new friends. Dong certainly took his misfortunes with better humour than I would have!

Postscript. Dong didn’t do badly compared to these people who had their boat explode at Brooklyn.