I was lucky enough to get a little time out of this season's Fishing Australia schedule to attend the first ever Hobie Island Big Day Out. It turned out to be just the ticket to sneak in some much needed quality time on the water with family, friends and like minded water lovers.
Hobie Australasia Managing Director Steve Fields created the event in hope of attracting sailboat owners and dealers of all skill levels to a fun social event format far from the pressures of competition sailing and competition fishing. And the theme was a hit-the event soon filled with over eighty participants from right around Australia!
The event was based at Huskisson on the shores of the world famous Jervis Bay which is also within a short distance of St Georges Basin where day one kicked off. Starting on a protected water like the Basin was a credit to the organizers as it offered organizers a good way to gauge participants sailing skill levels before moving on to more open waters of Jervis Bay.
Upon arrival we were stunned to see the amount of people that turned out despite the overcast drizzling conditions, it was clear that everyone was determined to have fun come rain hail or shine. My 13 year old daughter Caitlin was happy to see there was a number of other kids at the event. Both Caitlin and I are relative newcomers to sailing so we announced our team name as ‘beginners are grinners’ and this set the mood for us from that moment on.
At first the wind was virtually non-existent on the Basin, so we employed the mirage drive to cruise across what is one of my favorite estuaries. We were in a tandem Hobie and despite the peddling being easier than walking, Caitlin had a sore knee from a net ball injury so I let her rest up while so she took delight in continually making me back track from the main fleet towards a lure munching Tailor School. For my extra trouble she nick named me ‘Fossil Fuel’ much to the amusement of the fleet.
The Hobies are a super easy way to learn to sail, so much so that when the breeze picked up I left all the sailing to Caitlin so I could fish a little. She passed with flying colors but it was great to see experienced sailors would slot in next to us newcomers and offer help us hone our sailing skills. That night people socialised at the newly refurbished Husky Pub which is now called ‘the Huskisson’. If you think it was a cool spot before you should see it now! Day two started at the Vincentia Sailing Club and while there was a few larger sailing cats and also some Stand Up Paddle boards to try, most of the participants used either the single person Hobie Adventure Island or the two person Tandem Island (hence the name of the event).
Both these island models can however in some conditions comfortably carry extra littlies, and the Tandem in particular was popular with families sporting a couple of kids on the outrigger trampolines. One 8 year old trampoline riding youngster was keen to put a bend in his kid sized fishing rod, so I tied on a shallow running minnow with a loud rattle. The family had no sooner passed the marker off Plantation Point and a 1.5 kilo bonito gave them an experience they’ll never forget.
The weather was perfect with winds shifting between 5 and 15 knots and the stunning sunshine allowed our interstate visitors to experience the white sands and grand cliffs of Jervis Bay in all their glory. Later that morning Paul O’Leary (Kayak Marlin fame) and Josh Homes (Yakkass.net fame) and I got a little overcome by big fish fever and deviated from the main fleet. Knowing that ‘JB’ has produced for us some XL kayak marlin, kingfish and other high end piscatorial treats we just couldn’t resist having a long shot at something big, but in the very brief hour or so of fishing that was left it soon dawned on us that this was an even longer shot than first thought.
Those fishing lighter tackle for bonito, salmon and tailor had more success, but we still enjoyed the brief hunt for big fish and Caitlin was delighted to see dolphins and seals amongst the bait school that milled around us. The day was topped off with a fresh seafood lunch put on by local sailing identity David O’Toole who has become a whiz in the cooking department.
I would like to thank everyone who helped us participants gained much from the event, and I understand plans are already underway to see it spread to other states. More info and pics at www.hobiecat.com.au/hibdo
See you on the water.