Paul Szybiak

Was a few years ago when myself and a mate went out for an overnighter off Dundee in the NT. It was October in the build-up and the big goldies were on fire. I have a 5.5m side console plate boat that I had just put a brand new 150 Yammy on.

As you do, I checked the weather report, perfect, loaded up and we were off to slay it. We motored about 40km down the coast and about 20km out. Night came, all was going well, few good fish and some nice eating fish in the esky when we noticed a kick-ass scud brewing up rover land and making its way out to sea. After a while we realised it was coming our way and closing in fast, the rain was dumping in this scud and the lightning was out of control.

Not wanting to be a part of it we pulled anchor and took off, but it was too late. I had the motor flat stick as it was so calm and flat but the storm kept closing on us as we tried to outrun it, no matter which way we went we couldn't dodge it.

In the end, we had to bunker down and ride it out and it was crazy.

My mate is shit scared of lightning which was smashing around us everywhere. He pulled the esky out of my cast deck and hid in there which pissed me off as a bit of moral support would have been nice. I decided to keep my motor running in idle and just keep an eye on the sounder, which I could hardly see through the rain. It was like being in a washing machine and we were taking waves over the side of the boat but from every angle.

Then my motor went dead, unknown to me the fuel tank breather took in enough water to get enough in the tank and kill the motor. The breather has since been modified but I swear if I did not have a sealed deck boat we would have sunk! A bilge would not of keeping up with the amount of rain and waves in the boat.

After about an hour the storm passed and I saw the cast deck lid start to open and my mates face poke out so I jumped on the lid as I was not happy with my mate.

Anyway, we tried to get the motor going but no go. We waited for the rest of the night out, had a bit of a sleep and thought we would see a boat in the morning. Morning came and nothing, nobody. So we left using the electric until the batteries went flat then anchored up.

I tried my 2 way but it wasn't working. The week before, my mate’s kid was using the arial as a spear at home. I stopped him but didn't realise it was damaged.

Man, it was hot, so hot, no sunscreen. As the day went on we still saw nobody and all we only had a carton of beer and a carton of Jacks, 3 litres of water and a packet of pretzels on board.

Around lunchtime we realised nobody was heading out our way, this could be serious and went into survival mode. We stopped drinking beer so we didn't dehydrate, rationed the water and took turns with one of us sitting as a lookout with the other under the raincoats to keep the sun off.

The day passed, nobody, we were burnt, thirsty and hungry, we tried eating the pretzels then having a mouth full of water to fluff them up in our stomachs to fill us up but that didn't work. Night came, we were getting really worried, starting to shit really and kept taking turns as lookout and sleeping.

Some time in the middle of the night my mate started going off, he thought he saw a boat. Ii got up and you ripper, a boat. We had been dead in the water for around 30, 36 hrs now. We let the flares off but the lights on the boat didn't change course so we let off the old out of date flares which I keep as a backup.

The lights on the boat changed course and in about 10 minutes we had a commercial net boat sitting next to us. They didn't see the first flares and said they only just noticed the second set because of the direction they were facing.

They gave us 2 options, wait and they would come back for us in a day or we could go fishing with them until their brine was full. We wanted off our boat so the skipper dropped his anchor and tied my boat to it as it was obviously heaps bigger than mine. We collected our valuables, set some solar-type lifts to the boat which these guys had, pulled the batteries for the electric motor out, took a waypoint and jumped on board.

Once we were on board we used a sat phone to ring home, put my batteries on their charger and they let us have a shower, cooked us some tacos and gave us some fresh clothes and we went fishing with them.

They filled their brine that night, they said they were getting good karma for picking us up. In the morning we steamed back to my boat, sorted everything out and they towed us back to Dundee. When we got close enough to the ramp they sent us off using the electric motor to get to the ramp.

They were unloading later that day when they got back so we went home then went to the dock, helped them unload and laid massive amounts of top-shelf piss on them, they were champions.

I took my boat into the shop and ended up with a $14,000 repair { insurance } on a motor with 34hrs on it. The saltwater had rusted the motor internals badly. I do have an EPIRB but wasn't sure if the coast guard would have picked us up and left my boat behind which I wasn't prepared to do.

I always carry an excess of water nowadays.

Bit of a long-winded story but a lot happened in those couple of days. A photo of my mates sunburnt legs from the trip attached. Hope you enjoyed my story more than i enjoyed that trip.