Coun­try di­ary

Wendyl Nis­sen heads out on her first mo­torised trip around the Hokianga Har­bour, but things don’t go quite ac­cord­ing to plan.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - Contents -

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

great­est joy.

I hadn’t even man­aged to put it on the boat be­fore a bit of metal broke off.

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