It’s scary when you’re up the creek - or out to sea - without a paddle... writes Nicholas Janzen, editor of Modern Fishing Magazine
STRANDED on a (nearly) deserted island – it’s not as much fun as some of you might think. Forget Robinson Crusoe and The Famous Five – finding yourself stuck on a tiny chunk of land in the middle of nowhere is not enjoyable at all.
I recently returned from my own harrowing island experience. It was billed as the trip of a lifetime – me and three mates exploring a fishing wonderland over a long weekend. It turned out to be anything but...
The trip to the island began well enough. A three-hour drive up the coast and a Sea-Doo sprint had us ashore. An unclaimed beach for camping, a spectacular setting and what appeared to be some productive fishing reefs just a few minutes away.
The next day, however, our well-laid plans began to unravel. What greeted us that Saturday is something I’ll never forget. Even the three-minute scoot to the headland at the start of the open ocean had me green around the gills – and wishing I’d stayed at home. I won’t tell you exactly how high the swell was – I doubt many people will believe me – but I’ve seen apartment blocks lower to the ground. We were, plain and simple, stranded. Stuck. In the middle of nowhere.
Our back-up fishing plan had us casting poppers off the rocks over the other side of the island. However, try as we might, we couldn’t take our minds off the sea. What if the weather wasn’t to calm down? What if we were stuck in tents for the rest of the week… or longer? Our supplies would last another couple of days at a stretch.
“Plan on fishing today and start planning your funeral,” an island regular told us the next day as we optimistically motored towards the heads. We had hoped to return home that afternoon – it was an hour’s ride to the boat ramp in favourable conditions – and our plans had turned to dust. We fell asleep, in a haze of too much canned beer, to the sound of the wind howling and an angry sea lapping at the front of our tent.
That following morning we were presented with a window of opportunity. The wind had died and the swells had eased – but conditions were still far from perfect. Choppy seas and a cloud cover growing darker by the minute ensured it was a stressful run. It might have taken twice as long as it usually would, but those first steps I took on the boat ramp as the sky opened up above me gave me reason to smile. I might have been soaked from head to toe – and bloody freezing – but I was ecstatic.
Sometimes even the best-prepared plans come unstuck if you’re stupid enough – like me – to let them.
By Nicholas Janzen