LuckyFil

Near Disaster on the Rocks today

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My son (aged 32) went to North Head this morning planning on a dawn spin off the rocks. He recounted this story to me later today.

When he arrived  half hour or so before dawn he realised the swell had not dropped as much as forecast and while not extremely high there was a long wave period i.e. a lot of power behind each wave. Instead of setting up to fish on the rock platform he decided to wait up higher and watch the swell for a while. Four other fishermen walked straight past and onto the platform. They asked why he wasn't going down and he explained he thought it looked a bit dodgy and he wanted to check it for a while. They said it's fine and started fishing straight away.

Within a minute of that conversation a large set of three waves hit in succession, the first brought well over a meter of green water over the platform which is only about four meters front to back then the rock wall behind - so nowhere to go apart from the scramble track down on one side. All four were knocked off the feet and my son expected to see them in the ocean when the white water cleared. Miraculously they had all managed to cling to the rock surface and despite plenty of missing skin were OK.

Two of them managed to hang onto their rods , the other two didn't . They both had two rods each including 2 Saltiga reels and one Stella  and one saltiga rod. Both their bags were in the ocean, one of which had his tackle and a new phone worth $1000. That pair were now down about $4000 worth of gear (including the phone) and one of them was preparing to dive in to retrieve one of the  bags which was still afloat. My son argued with him almost to the point of physically restraining him from jumping in. My son said they were extremely powerful waves and this guy didn't look like a strong swimmer. Even if he could swim against those waves he'd have been smashed trying to get back onto the rocks. He clearly was not thinking straight and panicked. They were able to flag down a passing boat that retrieved the floating bag and went into the next quieter bay and were able to thrown it onto the rocks . It contained their car keys amongst other stuff.

I'm recounting this as I know there's a lot of newer fishermen on this fishing site and I wanted to tell them of the dangers of underestimating the swell when rock fishing. My son has lived his whole 32 years on the coast and is a surfer, fisherman and strong swimmer so he knew what to look for when checking the ocean. If you aren't sure, check with other fishermen and if there aren't any around sit and watch the sea for at least 10 minutes where you plan to fish - your life may depend on it.

Stay safe guys

Fil

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Yep LuckyFil, long period swell is the killing swell for less aware rock fishos.

Not only, as you write, does long period swell have more power, its true lethal characteristic is long lulls between the biggest sets.

Those lulls might extend to half an hour or more. 

So that mantra of watching the ocean for 15 mins or 20 mins can lead to a potentially fatal confidence that the platform is safe.

For those who haven't grown up beside the ocean,  don't surf, have less experience etc it might pay to check any of the surf forecast sites. They include info on swell period.

A swell with a period of mid to high teens, and higher, though that's rare on the Sydney coast, is something which should create serious caution.

Same applies to boat fishos crossing bars.

Scary and sobering story Fil.

 

 

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Good to hear a story like this with a "happy" ending. Your son is obviously well attuned to the dangers and did a great job, even to the point of arguing with these guys. Sadly, ignorance is often the biggest killer, even for the experienced.

Well done to your son

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That's why I don't rock fish!

I'll stick to the boat or the beach.

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Glad you posted this story LuckyFil...it may save somebodies life down the track. Good onya for posting it mate. bn

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serve them right for loosing their gear for been so stupid -  they are luck you did not have to ring the westpac rescue for them and waste taxpayers money ..................

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2 hours ago, kingie chaser said:

That's why I don't rock fish!

I'll stick to the boat or the beach.

Ive been stuck in a rip in 8ft surf and i guarantee its not worth a feed.  

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Everyone needs to read this post, its a bit of a wakeup call especially to new rock fishers, but also to the 'she'll be right' fishos (must admit i am one of them)

Learn to read the ocean and always wear a lifejacket when rockfishing, doesn't matter if you can swim or not.

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14 hours ago, LuckyFil said:

All four were knocked off the feet and my son expected to see them in the ocean when the white water cleared. Miraculously they had all managed to cling to the rock surface and despite plenty of missing skin were OK.

Do you know if they were wearing life jackets? I only just found out a few days ago that  life jackets are now mandatory on the Northern Beaches, and North Head is definitely a high risk area that would require one

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Great report, thanks for sharing.

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5 hours ago, BuckWild said:

Do you know if they were wearing life jackets? I only just found out a few days ago that  life jackets are now mandatory on the Northern Beaches, and North Head is definitely a high risk area that would require one

I believe two were wearing lifejackets and two were not

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I was there some years ago and a mate got washed in fishing the lower section for drummer when no action on livies. Same swell that day too. He just got too impatient. Lucky a nearby boat picked him up. I had to carry all his LBG gear out!! Heavy gear back then...

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Good on you Fil  for posting & your son for trying to for worn & help people who don’t realise the dangers of being eager for a fish, many a time I’ve gone out after looking at sea breeze & then seeing the conditions different to forecast & gone somewhere safer or back home, while guys in heavy clothing & gumboots keep fishing & wonder why there gear gets washed away by the odd set (dumb) I hope you’re  post saves some lives & makes people realise you need to sit back & watch the conditions for a while before you get into fishing the rocks

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You can’t teach stupid or ignorance! The ocean needs to be respected regardless of any conditions. 
Good on your son for his efforts! 
 

cheers scratchie!!! 

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Great post and thanks for taking the time to write it.

Stash

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Great post, glad everyone is ok they can buy new gear.

Those waist life jackets look good for rock fishing. I've snapped surfboard leashes before and gone from comfortable to very uncomfortable in an instant, let alone being next to rocks in heavy wet clothing.

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