Fieldwork Camp Coral Bay

Every year the camp set-up evolves a little but after more than 20 years it maintains this basic format, a big tarpaulin over the 2 room tent which gives me a decent area outside with a large work table and plenty of room inside for fragile materials. The 2021 field trip was a real mixed bag. I escaped by a single day the snap Covid lockdown in Perth and then once my camp was installed the trip began with a week of torrential rain across the region, and subsequent flooding which cut the roads south for nearly two weeks.

It was even too wet and humid to draw or paint a lot of the time. Then when the weather improved I had a seemingly endless series of boat mechanical failures. First the hydraulic tilt motor failed, which meant stripping and rebuilding the hydraulic pump, then the electric relay for this motor -which had also failed, had to be rebuilt using automotive parts as no genuine parts were available in Australia. Then the gear change cable on the outboard tiller jammed because of corrosion in the tube. Again, no parts available so I had to build a replacement one using an old fibreglass tent pole from the tip. Necessity is the mother of invention. Then one of the 4 carburettors began leaking an alarming amount of fuel and obviously had to be repaired. All of these issues were compounded by the roads being washed out and no transport of spare parts was possible. I spent a lot of time looking at YouTube videos on outboard repairs, and had to teach myself some basic electronics.

Then I took a deep breath, dismantled the motor and stripped, cleaned and rebuilt all 4 carburettors. I managed to do some painting of this Double-spined Rock Lobster Panulirus penicillatus while waiting for parts to arrive. As you can see the work area was getting pretty crowded. The artist as mechanic! Eventually I managed to fix or fake up in some way all the problems and get the boat out on the water. I was finally able to monitor my coral sites and then completed an underwater drawing just as the trip came to an end.