Bermagui, NSW: Cruising at a comfortable 24 knots, Riviera 43 Open Flybridge, Irish Eyes, points her bow south as she steams past South Head on Sydney Harbour on day one of her 180 nautical mile voyage south to Bermagui.
This was the first blue water voyage for avid fisherman Paul Bezzina who has clocked up 420 hours since taking delivery of his new 43 Open Flybridge in January 2011.
Paul and his son, Jamie, spend most weekends fishing off the coast of Sydney, usually some 20 to 50 miles out over the Continental Shelf, but in June they decided to fish further afield and run the 43 to Bermagui in the hope of landing some Bluefin tuna.
The crew of five fishermen landed three good sized tuna on their first day.
Jamie said five rods went off at the same time and after 25 minutes of fishing, two lines broke.
“The other three fought to the end including Dad who started fighting the fish, but his back gave in so I took over and landed the fish, it was a real Bezzina team effort,” he said.
“Dad has always wanted to land a big tuna and we both shared the rod. We are very close and great fishing companions so it was a great feeling to land a 120 kilogram tuna together.
“We landed a total of three Bluefin tuna weighing 120 kilograms, 110 kilograms and 82 kilograms.
“The seas were pretty big and we had a 25 knot southerly to contend with, so it wasn’t easy fishing, the swell was up about two to three metres.
“It was our first time at Bermagui and we had a great experience. The thrill of chasing the fish down, the duration of fighting the fish and seeing the big smile on the angler’s face when they reel it in gives you a great sense of accomplishment, and then we let the fish go.
“Fishing definitely gives you an adrenalin rush; it’s the ultimate challenge between man and fish.”
Jamie said they were fortunate to have good weather and sea conditions for the voyage from Sydney to Bermagui.
“We steamed about 20 nautical miles south of Sydney and then trolled at about 8 knots all the way down to Jervis Bay, keeping 55 miles off the coast. From Jervis Bay we ran into Ulladulla where we stayed overnight.
“The next morning we threw the ropes again and fished all the way down to Bermagui, which was about 80 miles from Ulladulla.
“It’s a different world out in the ocean. Once we leave land and are running out towards the horizon, all our worries and stresses seem to disappear behind us, there is no mobile phone reception, it’s just great.”
Even though it was peaceful out at sea, the crew were also aware of the potential dangers should the weather and sea conditions turn bad, so they maintained contact with marine rescue via VHF radio, providing regular updates with their co-ordinates and location.
“It just gave us that reassurance that if something happened they would know where we were,” Jamie said.
“We had some bad weather on our return journey from Bermagui to Sydney with 20 to 25 knots of southerly all the way and three metre seas, but the boat handled it very well.
“The 43 was great for the whole trip, it didn’t miss a beat, she’s been very good to us.”
When Irish Eyes isn’t chasing down Bluefin tuna, she can be found anchored in Sydney Harbour and the Hawkesbury River where Paul and Jamie enjoy family time aboard.
“The boat is great for the whole family. We always use the boat for a recreational Sunday in the Harbour with mum, my wife and my 16-month-old son, Jacob,” said Jamie.
“It keeps all the family close, it’s great to go out for New Year’s Eve in the Harbour and we go out most weekends in the summer months. Jacob loves floating around in the water and I am looking forward to taking him out fishing when he gets a bit older.
“The boat is immaculate, everyone who comes on board comments on how beautiful the boat is and they can’t believe we fish out of it.
“Dad is really pleased with the 43. It handles superbly, there is plenty of space for fishing and entertaining, the IPS makes it more fuel efficient and it is a lot easier for dad to handle with the joystick control in the cockpit and in the flybridge.
“Boating truly is a great way for the family to spend quality time together and we use the 43 for both recreational fishing and family weekends away.”