After attempts to cancel the trip threatened him with mutiny by his men, the CO eventually handed the reins over to me.
I called the boatman about 4 days before the trip to confirm a change of command but he appeared rather confused and at first suggested that he did not have any trips with Nigel before finally conceeding that he did. We also confirmed that the destination was for mano wreck.
1 day before the trip, I called up the old CO and persuaded him to rejoin the fold which took some convincing but he eventually did.
At 2.30pm, Nick, Nigel and me headed off to Changi Village to stock up on supplies and fill ourselves with sustenance. We were waiting for Malau and Oldman to join us but they eventually informed us that they would meet us directly at the marina.
At about 3.30pm, we headed off to the SAFYC and met Malau and Oldman at the carpark. We reached the boat at about 4pm.
Our spirits were high because we had planned this trip more than 2 months ago and also because this was our first time fishing at a wreck.
I smelt something amiss though when I heard the boatman tell Nigel that we wouldn’t be going to Mano Wreck today due to the strong currents. I mean, we had seen the calendar and were well aware of the currents and we had confirmed the fishing spot with him. Furthermore, when I sneaked a peek at his fuel gauge, it was below the red line. He even told me that the trip had to end at 7am instead of 8am or later because he had another trip after ours.
When he brought us to the baitfish spot, he also neglected to drop anchor and he had to repark the boat every minute or so. We caught a total of 5 baitfish all below 6cm, which was something around 20cm smaller than what we were expecting. Within 10 minutes, he decided to start the fishing.
Throughout the first half of the night, he drove us round and round in circles to spots within a 1km radius and all within 2-3km from the SAFYC (based on GPS logs). From around 2am onwards, he stopped changing spots.
I was the first to hook up with an Ang Cho. I looked really bad due to seasickness earlier in the day.
Followed shortly after by the boatman with another Ang Cho, Nick with a bamboo shark and Nigel with another Ang Cho.
After that the water fell silent for a few hours. And then we started hitting countless Ah Sengs which lasted for the rest of the trip.
It got pretty boring so we took turns sleeping and chit chatting about funny topics. I snapped this picture of Nigel and posted it on facebook.
But he retaliated by posting this on facebook.
We were getting pretty peeved with the boatman who by now was fast asleep. I think the only thing that kept me from really telling him off was the fact that he cooked some broth for us.
The morning got ever closer and we started talking about politics and how Nigel was going to get home with no MRT service (MRT had announced that they would only start the service at 11am today) and almost towards the end of the trip, Nick broke his brand new rod’s cherry with a tiny baby gelama.
Unlike most other boatmen who would change spots the moment an Ah Seng was lifted from the water, this guy just kept on fishing. It was only because Nick and me were interested in eating the fish (thanks to Nick who made me realise just how nice this fish was to eat a few years earlier) that we did not say much.
When the morning finally came, we packed up our fish and were about to pay the boatman when he declared that his price was now $450 instead of $400. That really really ticked me off and so where I would usually just say a cordial thank you to the boatman, we paid him and just walked off. Not one of us said thank you or goodbye. In hindsight, I should have confirmed with him the pricing over the phone but alas hindsight is always 20/20.
All in all this was a disastrous trip with a not very good boatman who changed the spot at the last minute from mano wreck some distance away to spots just a few clicks away from our launch position.
I don’t really want to diss this boatman in case it was just a one off shitty trip but if there is any hint to give, it’s that the U in U.S. stands for Uncle.
Known Tackle used:
Eupro Hammer Jig PE 3-6 + Tiburon Smart Shift reel (good budget reel) + 50lb Accubraid.
Eupro Exploder PE 3 – 6 + Daiwa Saltist 40H (Nick)
Shawn started fishing in 1994. He caught his first fish (an Ah Seng) on that very first trip to Changi Carpark 4 (before it was barricaded). He built up his fishing knowledge and gear over the years but still keeps his old gear, just like the memories.