Wendyl Nissen heads out on her first motorised trip around the Hokianga Harbour, but things don’t go quite according to plan.
Of all the activities I expected to enjoy this summer, fishing was not one of them. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it – I grew up on boats and spent many enjoyable hours out on the water fishing with my dad, so I have very special memories attached to it.
But with a house full of visitors, a garden and orchard to keep watered and weeded, a pile of books by my bed to read, jam and preserves to make, not to mention daily loaves of bread, a bit of work to do, oh and the 1000-word jigsaw on the dining table to finish, fishing just wasn’t going to get a look-in.
Then we spent a few days with friends at their house in the Coromandel. They have a jet ski. I hate jet skis. They are loud and noisy, can be very dangerous in the wrong hands, and apart from all that what do you do on one except go up and down the coast very fast looking like an idiot?
“Pointless thing to do,” I announced to my friend, who had just bought one.
“I’m going to go fishing on it,” he said, then offered to take me for a ride.
I agreed. Then I took the controls to have a go – and suddenly had a vision of myself fishing from one on the Hokianga Harbour… and I was sold.
“I’m going to get a jet ski,” I told my father a few days later. “It’ll be good for fishing.”
He’s in his 80s and has had many years to get used to his daughter’s sudden, often not very well thought out, proclamations.
“Nonsense,” he replied, citing various constraints, including having to put it in and out of the water from the trailer – not having a launching pad at my place would mean having to drive to one – and the fact that they are a menace to all seafaring, normal people.
“Get an outboard motor,” he said. “There are some cheap ones on Trade Me, that’ll do you.”
And suddenly I found myself buying a $300 outboard motor that I could easily carry up and down our paddock to put on the little yellow dinghy I’ve had for years and which I normally row out to my favourite fishing spot.
“How exciting,” I said to my husband, who is not a fishing person, or even a boat person and barely a water person. “We can putt around the Hokianga and have picnics.” He smiled wanly.
Before the outboard arrived I went on a few fishing trips in preparation. I rowed out to my usual spot and was astounded to catch lots of legal snapper and one particularly large one. I dragged them all back, cleaned and gutted them, filleted and skinned them and then had a good rest.
As soon as the outboard motor arrived I headed off for my first motorised trip on the Hokianga. I hadn’t even managed to put it on the boat before a bit of metal broke off. Then the pull chord thing wouldn’t pull. I grew up around the water so I know that for an outboard to start you need the pull chord to pull. So I went manual and rowed out for that fishing trip, glaring with undisguised anger at my new outboard motor and cursing myself for, once again, buying something cheap. How many times have I told myself you get what you pay for?! Then I thought that the negative energy may be travelling down my rod to the fish, so I looked at the beautiful view and sorted out my attitude.
As I rowed back with yet another great catch, I realised the exercise I was getting from trekking down the paddock, pulling the boat over the bank into the water, rowing out, then back against tide and current, hauling the boat up the bank and walking back up the paddock was pretty good. In fact, it was about as good as the personal trainer sessions I used to have twice a week, at great expense, at the gym in Auckland.
So I returned the bad outboard motor and got my money back. And instead I row and I fish and I love every minute of it. It’s often the most unexpected things that give us the
I hadn’t even managed to put it on the boat before a bit of metal broke off.