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What can save a fishing trip, ‘thongs’ or ‘pluggers’?

For our travels we decided to sell our much loved tinny for a smaller one to go on the roof of the Patrol. So in the weeks leading up to our departure we ordered a Clarke Predator 355, we wanted a few customisations and Clarke were more than happy to accommodate. With the delivery date being only days before we were leaving there was no time for delays.

Brendon had designed modifications to our existing roof rack to become our new roof top boat loader but we experienced delays with the fabrication and when received it was not as designed and we didn’t have time to have it rectified in Brisbane before we left on our adventures. We were stuck with a boat loader that was not right and a dilemma, do we now take our modfied roof rack to Sydney and get it re-refabricated down there or do we go with what we had originally really wanted but considered too expensive at the time which was an Almac Boat Loader. The decision was made easy when the quotes to remove the modifications that had been made and remake the loader to Brendon’s specifications was going to cost almost the same as an Almac Boat Loader. Almac Trailers are based in Bundaberg (also known as East Bundaberg Engineering), we would be passing through Bundy on our way north so we made arrangements to get it underway.

The new tinny and Almac boat loader

The boat loader was now under control but we still did not have a motor. Brendon was tossing up between the 4stroke or 2 stroke Mercury motors, If we went the 4 then the rear outboard mount would have to be modified, and the 4 is a lot heaver, 2 strokes are on the other hand on their way out with some dams already banning them. In the end the 2 stroke won out, largely due to the weight and cost. With only one Mercury dealer in Bundaberg we were lucky to walk in and they had a second hand American style (reverse on the throttle) in fair condition on the showroom floor. Just like that we had a motor for our tinny.

It turned out we were in Bundaberg for two weeks rather than two days, due to issues with our brand new camper meant we were behind schedule. We took some time out to visit 1770, Agnes Waters and Baffle Creek, where we actually had to cut our day short and evacuate due to bushfires. Besides been messed around by the camper manufacturer, it looked like Mother Nature was against us making it to Cape York. There were predictions of a tropical low/cyclone heading towards the Cape which meant roads north could be blocked off. With all the terrible fires that seemed to be breaking out in Queensland we decided to drive inland to avoid them. In a rush to get up to the Cape to make it before the impending cyclone we drove long hours and arrived on the 5th December before any real weather issues began.

Several times we talked about taking the tinny out for her maiden voyage but it wasn’t till two months after we purchased it that we finally were heading out. All packed up for a few hours on Jackey Jackey Creek Cape York Qld there was a little bit of excitement and nerves. We had never used the boat loader with just us and had never tested the motor (other then the obligatory run in the tank at the marine shop in Bundaberg) and now we were in croc country.  

Jackey Jackey Creek Boat Ramp, Cape York Queensland

We pulled up to the boat ramp and unloaded the tinny for the first time, it definitely wasn’t the smoothest process with being under constant attack by sand flies and mosquitos and the frequent check over your shoulder to make sure nothing was eyeing you off for dinner. With the tinny unloaded, all the gear sorted and the motor attached all that was left was put in the bung and walk it down the ramp into croc water. It was then we realised that the bung that was provided with the tinny was the wrong size.

It had been 2 months since we bought the tinny, 2 months it has been on the roof of the truck waiting to go out, Brendon had been counting every day, although the bung is a minor issue we had to travel, prepare, unload the tinny, put all the gear in it. I could tell Brendon was more then mildly upset by the exact words he yelled out to me that day “The *freaking bung is wrong.”. Personally not being to keen on the current environment I started to put everything back in the truck thinking well we will have to do this some other time.

The ‘Plugger’ bung

Brendon was determined there was no way in hell that we weren’t going out in the tinny today. The hole just needs to be plugged up. Off came the new thongs, they were cut up and a piece squished into the hole. Problem solved… being not so keen on the idea of going out water with a piece of thong stopping the tinny from sinking I reminded Brendon about the croc situation but we were going and that was that.

With our thong bung we headed out on the Jackey Jackey for an enjoyable but thoroughly unsuccessful afternoon of fishing. I wasn’t confident with the thong bung but guess I am still here to share the story, we now taken the boat out a few times and have the unloading process running smoother and have a proper bung, but we still keep the bit of plugger stashed in the boat just in case.

So no matter what you call them, thongs, flip flops, jandles or double-pluggers, pretty sure we will be calling them simply, ‘pluggers’ ,from now on.


Brendan navigating Jackey Jackey creek in search of the catch of the day.
As the sunsets we were still hoping for the hookup.

* words may not be exact.

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