Survey in Pomene

Survey in Pomene

Clint Marx of LM Surveys gave The Sardine a call and asked about the feasibility of getting a boat from Barra to Pomene, 110kms north of us, for a survey job. Very feasible, was the quick answer. And so we were chartered to assist Clint with a survey in Pomene.

Our team of Captain Paul Cook, 1st Engineer, and navigation and GIS champion, Captain Robin Beatty, and me, boat Elvis, have done this trip, and so preparations were underway.

Our chosen little big boat was a Cobra Cat 500, with twin Yamaha 60’s. That hadn’t run in 8 years?! So quick to work and Paul started uncovering the multitude of  problems available, when a boat is not winterised. The steering was jammed, the chokes inoperable, the trims full of air, the remotes sticky and stuck, the coils unearthed…it never seemed to end as we just about overhauled the motors completely.

Survey in Pomene: departing at the beautiful Barra Reef Divers launch

Survey in Pomene: departing at the beautiful Barra Reef Divers launch

After 4 or 5 sea trials, we had the motors starting great and pulling top revs. Which made us good for 22 knots at spark advance – our most economical speed. Which two hours after launch at Barra, put us at the start of the Sylvia Shoal, and lines out.

It wasn’t a few minutes when the MYDO Livebaitswimmer rigged with a brand new mini sardine went down to a marauding Tropical Yellowtail. And the another one a few minutes later. This meant we had enough fish to eat at camp for the next few days, and so on we crtised at 20 knots, influenced by a slight chop. Meeting our ground crew who by road, made the same time as us, at the top of the ever awe-inspiring Pomene Point.

There is a natural sand harbour in front of our permanent camp at Pomene, perfect for parking boats in…easily navigated at higher tides.

The next day, whilst waiting for Clint to arrive, we hit out the 17kms to Bassas da Zambia. Miles and miles of more reef…very similair to The Sylvia Shoal. 5 Metres in places. 7kms out to sea. Snorkeling with the current over undragged coral didn’t last long as fish came into view. Many fish. Two Green Jobfish were soon in the hatch. Then a shark ate our bonnie. And a sailfish speared a hole almost right through our live Rainbow Runner. But in my excitement, I set the drag up to high straight away, the fish did not like that at all,and swam off indignant.

Our guest chef in the camp, Rio Domingo, took to catching our live bait for us, and brought up a host of cool little fishies, most of which swam away without hooks in them.

When Clint arrived that night, we moved to Pomene Lodge, where we would be based the next week or so. Hot water showers! Woohoo!

Mobilising the boat took a whole day but then we were cruising the magnificent estuary scanning away before sunset.

After a few days missioning with weather, engines and equipment, the job was done. Clint had to leave for more work but not before, he was amply treated to a serious surf session up at the point, with a draining tide and offshore wind, that produced lips a foot thick. And barrells big enough to live in. Enough said.

And so we were left with a boat and some time on our hands whilst waiting for more fuel and a good sea. With which we were able to explore and survey the rest of the huge estuarine system. Packed with Mangroves, and crystal clear water – what a day! It also happened to be the day of the solar eclipse, more about that here.

Solar eclipse from Pomene Lodge

Solar eclipse at Pomene Lodge by “Buddy”

The next was deemed fit for travel, and at 4am, we repeated the ritual, and headed back out to sea. Again we stopped at The Sylvia Shoal, stuck out a whiting on a MYDO, and as we came up the side of the undersea mountain, a lovely swallowtail rockcod chomped it and we had fish for dinner, once more.

A quick two hours had us back on the beach at Barra, where Russell and his crew from Barra Reef Divers put us back on the trailer and into the pub. A few great plates of food at Neptunes Beach Bar, and three exhausted sailors put in for Tofo, and some serious R&R (not rum and raspberry!).

Thank you Clint and The Sardine team!

We can do this trip for anyone interested, anytime…buzz me on umzimkulu@gmail.com

 

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