My Cray Days
It also gave me an appreciation of Mick’s masterful skills to time the release of the pot at the surface. Getting it to fit within some of the tightest holes in the reef, right where all the crayfish live. One standout was an approximately 5 metre tall rough, pyramid shaped limestone formation with a hole straight down the centre similar to a volcano. Mick warned me before I went over the side of the boat that the hole down the middle may be too tight and dangerous. I should look at the bottom of this formation for a hole or cave to get access to the pot, untie the rope. Then proceed to go to the top of the pinnacle grab the line go back down the side of it and pull the pot out, re-tie for him to be able to winch to the surface. Sure enough true to his word, this is exactly what I needed to do. Getting in the cave at the bottom I could look up to the heaven’s and see the light shooting down the middle of the reef formation. The silhouette of many fish were clouding the light coming down to the sea bed. It truly was an amazing experience.
One time I did not want to jump over the side to retrieve a pot, actually I remember things getting heated between Mick and I because I refused to do so. Grumpy old Mick would not take no for an answer. The reason for my disobedience was, pulling up to the plotted position where the pot was stuck at the bottom we passed what is possibly the worst stench I have ever smelt in the air, it made the old abattoirs smell like roses! A huge turtle shell was floating on the surface and unfortunately something had eaten most it. Mick ended up winning. I backed over the side of the boat and proceeded my way down the rope to what seemed like the deepest, murkiest cray pot that was ever stuck. I can tell you that was the fastest I’ve ever dislodged a pot and got back up on deck.
During the season the fisheries department allowed big commercial boats to venture to the Abrolhos Islands for a two week period. The cray fish were in such numbers around these Islands that the fisherman and the crew make in 2 weeks what they would for the rest of the seven months season almost.
Unfortunately Mick’s boat was not large enough to journey this far. As an alternative we would travel 2 hours west of the mainland to the continental shelf where the ocean floor would just drop away too monumental depths. We tied on ropes that were triple the length that we usually ran. Each pots rope coiled on the deck, was the height of my waist.