Saturday, December 03, 2011

Hanging out in the Bay of Islands

When thanksgiving time rolls around in New Zealand nobody gives a crap. Well, nobody except for the Americans who are over here. ...and of course that makes perfect sense because it's an American holiday. We had enough Americans around us here in Opua to necessitate some sort of thanksgiving dinner so the crews of Piko and Britannia went nuts and decided to organize dinner for around 13 people on a 36 foot boat. Aside from Amanda, Krister, Lauren (girl), and Lauren (boy) from Britannia and Piko, we had Alex and Ryan from Shalimar, Ivan and Josefin from Kuheli (they're Swedish but we explained that thanksgiving was all about eating too much food and they seemed game), and several members of Krister's family that were visiting from the US. Anyway, we all enjoyed the traditional thanksgiving chicken (turkey is really expensive here) and had a good time. People were distributed throughout the boat so the pictures don't really do justice to how many people there were in a such a small space.

After thanksgiving, Christine and I took Architeuthis out to the islands to check things out. We spent several days on our own. I spent as much time in the water with my new speargun as the water temperature and my insufficient wetsuit would allow. So far, the fish here in NZ seem to be a lot larger and easier to shoot than the fish in the tropics. In fact there are several species around (like the Red Moki) that are large and fairly tasty but they are just too damned easy to shoot with a speargun. After taking one of those "execution style" (basically setting the spear tip on the back of its head before shooting), I have decided that I'm going to leave them alone (unless I'm really hungry and feeling really lazy and really shameless). Aside from that, Christine and I just did some hiking and general relaxing.

After a few days on our own, we ran into Kuheli in an anchorage on the south side of Urupukapuka island and, after being there for a day or two, decided to follow them over to another island called Moturua. Motorua had a really nice hiking track all the way around it that we went and checked out with Ivan and Josefin from Kuheli. After that we went back into Opua to buy some groceries and get ready for some friends that were coming to visit.

On the weekend of December 3rd, my friends and former coworkers Will and Chad came to visit and brought their new friend and coworker, Evan. They had all come to New Zealand for some meetings down in Auckland and I talked them into come up to have a weekend out on the boat. Chad is really into the whole spear fishing thing so that became the main goal of the outing. Chad really wanted to get a kingfish so we chose to head out to a place called deep water cove (or Maunganui Bay depending on who you ask). Maunganui Bay is actually closed to fishing right now so we anchored Architeuthis in there and took Squib (our dinghy) out around the corner so that we were to the north of the closed area. While Chad, Evan, and I went out fish killing, Christine and Will hiked out a little way on the trail that goes out to Cape Brett. Sadly, we didn't see any kingfish but we got a bunch of other fish including Chad's delicious John Dory.

When we got back to the boat the New Zealand police had anchored right near us and came right over to see what we were up to. They had a guy filming the whole thing too and we forgot to ask why. They wanted to make sure we knew about the fishing closure and luckily we did. They were pretty darn nice about the whole thing, just like all the Kiwi's we've met so far, and it was pretty funny that a boat full of people who work on marine reserves were out killing a bunch of fish only to then get lectured about marine reserves. It would have looked pretty bad if we had been fishing in the closed area and I am really glad that I went through all the trouble it took to find out exactly where it was (since it's a new closure, the information on it was not readily available on the interweb yet).

As forecast, the weather got a little bit unpleasant on our trip back to Opua the next day. The first part of the trip was open to the ocean swell and managed to make our guests feel pretty uncomfortable. Fortunately, we were able to alter course and get in the swell shadow of some of the islands and make everyone feel better. Then, also as forecast, it started raining. It rained a lot. The guests all hid out in the cabin while Christine and I got test out our foul weather clothes (again). We spent the night tied to the guest dock at the Opua Cruising Club trying to dry ourselves out and get ready to take a ride down to Auckland the next day.