Off the coast of Western Australia, our Maniki crew reluctantly save Rednose from rocks and sharks


Final part

Yep, worse.

With the wind and the full weight of the big swells and rollers now directly in our rear, and the narrowing inlet being pressure-pumped by the three thousand miles of Indian Ocean between Jurien and Mauritius, the scene rapidly turned into a real rocky horror show.

The Dutchie’s boat, being lighter, started catching up on us. We fell into a huge nasty trough, and the towed boat was suddenly poised over the top of us! It came rocketing down the wall of water, heading for our stern – and rudder and prop!

Just in time, Riggsy found a few extra revs in the Cat, and we barrelled up on a big wave that was going away from us. Then the rope was pulling through the last wave, and there was no sign of Dutchy. Were we pulling his canoe into the back of the wave?

I jerked my head round to see how far we had to go to clear the narrows – and when I looked back again – there was Dutchy – and he screaming as his “ship” plunged down on top of us! So was I.

I grabbed the hand-axe, thinking of making a run to cut the bloody thing adrift, but Culver snatched it from me.

Riggsy again got something we never knew about from the Cat, and the towed craft smashed down again, missing our tail by inches.

By now everyone – except Ted Riggs – was sure we were dead men. Everything was now out of our hands and control. All of our lives depended on the old skipper. Somehow, he found the skill to keep our boat out from under the ducking and diving boat that was so obviously trying to destroy us all.

I was screaming curses at the terrified clown..

Jim Culver had his weight thrown against Ted Riggs, jamming him so he couldn’t be flung or torn away from the wheel.

And Gary Snook was standing, glued to the mast, staring unbelievingly as time and again our “old man” snatched precious life from the gaping maw of Davy bloody Jones, by dodging the knife-like prow that was trying so hard to send us all down.

Then, suddenly, we were through. The waves collapsed from being monstrous to just being very big and abnormal, and we were into Jurien Bay. Sweet Jurien Bay.

I don’t quite remember if we tied up to moorings, or got to the jetty, or did we beach the boats. I truly don’t. It’s nearly fifty years ago now.

Whatever we did, or however we terminated our heart-stopper of a Good Samaritan act, I forget that part of it completely.

What I do remember is Rednose coming up to Ted Riggs on the beach, tears streaming down his face, after such a close call.

I watched the bastard who had nearly killed us all. As I said – I knew him. Not personally – but by reputation.

Now he was blubbering to Riggsy: “Tedt – tomorrow I vill haff for you vun peeg crate of Fissky! Scottitch Fissky! For dis vunderfull crew – fife cases hoff beers! Yu har great menz! Tanx! Tanx!”

The next day, we were all outside Ted’s beach shack, repairing pots and soaking ropes.

Dutchy drove past in his Land Rover.

He didn’t even look at us.

Nor did his deckie.

Ned E


The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of The Kilkenny Observer.

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