On the lookout for a small tinnie I could use in calm water, an advertisement caught my eye one Saturday morning: ‘10’ Punt 4hp Yamaha, excellent condition’.
Well, this was just what I was looking for. At 13 years old I needed something under a 6hp and a tinnie small enough to handle by myself or with 2 people. I dragged Dad out early for a look and found my perfect boat. The only drawback was that it didn’t have a trailer. A phone call to my uncle produced a flat bed truck and back we went with cheque book in hand. It was all mine.
The ‘no trailer’ part was a bit of a worry but my uncle knew a guy on a cane farm who had an old trailer that needed some major work. Out we went with the flat bed truck again and returned with the trailer. The cane farmer was only too pleased to see us take it away and would not accept any money for it. The next job was a total rebuild of the trailer. After a month of grinding, welding and painting I had a perfectly good trailer for my punt.
I tested out the new set-up for a month before deciding that I needed to make the boat a bit more practical for my needs. Most of my fishing is in the Barron River, the Cairns Inlet and Tinaroo Dam. The Barron and the Inlet are usually day trips but Tinaroo Dam produces some nice barra between dusk and dawn, so I needed nav lights and some rod holders for trolling. I had tried the battery-operated lights but found them rather unreliable (mainly because I would forget to remove the batteries between trips and they would have leaked or gone flat by the next trip). I saved up some hard-earned pocket money and bought myself some 12-volt nav lights, a 4-gang switch panel, all the wiring and a small marine battery with a waterproof case. I even splashed out and shouted myself a swivel, fold-down seat.
Well, neither Dad nor I are electrician material but we decided to give wiring up the nav lights a fair go – it couldn’t be that hard. There’s an old saying, “when all else fails, read the instructions” (I think my mum made that up). The instructions plus a bit of know-how that came from a unit on circuits in Year 10 Science put us in good stead and we successfully wired everything up.
The first test was a long weekend on Tinaroo Dam. Everything worked like a dream; out I went, lit up like a Christmas tree. No boat on that lake was going to run into me. Unfortunately, no barra was going to run into my lures either. Even so, I was very happy with all my effort in setting the boat up and I’m sure I’ll get some scales on the deck soon.
My next project is to set up a casting deck in the front section. I have been pulling a good haul of prawns from the Barron lately and a deck will just finish it all off.
It has been a long but enjoyable project and I feel proud to have done most of the work to set up my punt. Thanks go to my Dad and Uncle Ralph for showing me how to do the work and helping out when I needed a hand.
Eammon wrote this short story for a school project and we thought it shows that fishing and tinkering with boats and tackle are still an everyday part of life for kids in the tropics. – EdReads: 1964