I was looking forward to my first scallop drift dive. Dreams of a catch bag heaving with the 100 scallop limit and a gourmet feast to follow had my mouth watering. My kitchen would rule and I would be the master chef providing a beautiful entrée for the family dinner booked for Sunday. What’s more having arrived at my seventh decade I didn’t even need a fishing licence.
Saturday was overcast and the wind blowing pretty hard from the north. A large Aquability group set off on the twin hulled Rorqual. After arriving off Rye , hopefully over the scallop beds ( can you see scallops on a sounder?!), three dive parties clutching their drift lines were launched into choppy seas.
After sorting ourselves out along the line, for 40 minutes we drifted happily over sea grass meadows, sandy bottoms with scallops and crabs and squid in holes. I was excited by the catch with my hunter-gather instincts bubbling up from my primordial past. I also had daydreams of being a pearl diver in Broome (my home for 15 years) as I stuffed the precious shell into my catch bag.
We surfaced in shallow water and proceeded to a very challenging re-embarkation as the boat almost ran aground, the drift line disappeared down wind, skipper was stressing, deckie in the water and divers exhausted but finally safe onboard.
So my grand catch amounted to perhaps 25 small scallops which when cleaned and shucked amounted to a couple of cups! But what fine fare when cooked in butter wine and lemon with a Jerusalem artichoke sauce. The hunter-gather was satisfied with his fortune. See you next time, but on a fine calm day.