Monday, September 25, 2006

Adventures on the high seas

I. had wanted to go fishing at Kaikoura yesterday. A friend of his had rung on Friday saying he was going to be there and that the weather looked perfect for it. I. hadn't been able to convince any of his fishing buddies to join him at such short notice so was going anyway.

Sunday morning was so beautiful (warm nor'west which means a flat sea at Kaikoura) that I decided I would go as well. We left a bit later than we intended (late night the previous night but that's another post) and had a very cruisy drive up. The good thing about towing a boat and having to travel more slowly than cars is that you're always driving into a clear road - everyone passes you and heads off and you never catch anyone up.

Anyway, got to the Kaikoura coast and the sea was the flattest I've ever seen. We launched at South Bay and could see that there were lots of boats out, with a few coming back. Presumably they started a lot earlier than us as it was now lunchtime. It was brilliant motoring across the bay - the water had that oily smooth look that the Sounds has and there were huge flocks of Sooty Shearwaters resting on the water. We also passed many seals just lolling about looking very relaxed.

We get to where I. wanted to fish but first he had to get the depth sounder working. There are a lot of very pointy rocks at Kaikoura and we didn't want to end up on them. Very shortly he had a line in the water and caught . . . a Jock Stewart. So that got tossed back but it looked promising. At this point I got distracted by a pod of Hectors Dolphins that cruised past and under the boat - they are extremely cute.

Then the southerly hit. There was absolutely no warning. Other boats that were around us fishing hadn't started back or anything. We hadn't missed any warning signs. One moment the ocean was a millpond and looking beautiful, the next it was a hurly burly and cold. Thankfully I was wearing my ski jacket so I didn't get too cold on the long trip back and it certainly was a long trip. Even though we were running with the wind, the sea was extremely choppy with some quite unpleasant swells. At one point I. almost fell on me as we dropped off a peak into a trough. But it never felt dangerous - just uncomfortable.

The most difficult part was retrieving the boat as the southerly hammers onto the boat ramp. First of all I. had to get me onto the jetty which was challenging as there were lots of boats hanging on, instead of dropping the retriever of the car off and moving away to let other boats in. Then some inconsiderate parkers on the ramp so that other people had no room. But the main challenge was getting the boat on the trailer as the wind kept pushing it off the side. This was the point when we got the most wet as we basically had to jump in and push the boat on! Very cold.

I'd bought a change of clothes but we had to go and buy I. shorts and a t-shirt! The shop assistant was very accommodating and allowed I. to drip into her changing room and wear the new clothes out, thankfully, so I was the only one that had to change on the side of the road. Mind you, when you're as cold as I was, you don't really care - all you want is to get the warm, dry clothes on NOW! We then followed that up with a hot coffee and a muffin - they tasted really great as well.

So it wasn't a particularly successful fishing expedition but it did turn into more of an adventure than we were expecting. Adventures are always a good thing! We got lots of fresh air and did enjoy ourselves. Slept like logs last night. Obviously I have no photos to add because it really wasn't the weather for waving the camera around. Next time.


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