We’ve been holed up, tucked in, hunkered down, at North Cape in an anchorage called Under the Light waiting for a weather shift that makes our way around the Cape a little more comfortable and puts us in a position for a more pleasant sail down the west coast of the North Island heading to Nelson and the Marlborough Sounds.
The last two days have been overcast and very misty. Donald says there are many terms for mist, including piss-mist (a light mist where you’d like to wipe your glasses but can’t quite be bothered because it’s not quite bad enough) and shit-mist (heavier mist, when you wipe your glasses it’s useless because they just mist right over again), our current conditions would be described as the latter.
We spent the first day taking the dinghy to the long stretch of white sandy beach and took a stroll to the tidepools on the far end. We were surprised to see a house tucked in to one of the valleys in the low dunes, since the area is quite isolated. On the return trip down the beach we also saw a large family with two pick-ups setting up for a day at the beach. They were throwing out a long line getting ready to catch their fish for the barbie, I think every Kiwi must know how to fish. The kids were playing in the water and the moms were hanging out. Kiwi’s seem to make the most of their environment and time outside regardless of weather conditions.
Our day got more interesting as we literally rolled into the afternoon and met Cremins and Adam, two local fisherman. We were all doing a few chores here and there when Donald and I heard a whistle. We were being hailed by the Hananui, a fishing boat that had just anchored next to us. Donald went outside to check and see if we were really being called and he saw a man holding up a large crayfish as an offering. It would be silly to pass on such a great piece of seafood and some interesting conversation, so Donald and I lowered the dinghy in the water and headed over to the Hananui.
We were greeted by Cremins (None of us asked Cremins how to spell his name and it turns out we all think it’s spelled differently, I’ve chosen Cremins, but Donald thinks it’s Cremons, and Geoff thinks it’s Cremens) the deckhand and Adam the captain, the younger of the two. It felt like we were stepping on to a boat where we would be chopped up and put in the ice box, just a little. But Cremins has such a charming toothless grin that my fears went away. This may make him sound older than he was but he was my age, 45, born in 1971, the year of the pig. These were facts he provided to let me know that he and I are humble, trustworthy, and stubborn. I’m guessing Donald agrees that these characteristics also describe me.
Cremins kept referring to the boat as their man cave apologetically and they both seemed quite surprised when we took them up on their offer to come on board for a beer but quite glad to have the company. After a couple of beers Cremins noticed Geoff on board of Wasco and thought he looked forlorn all alone, so he insisted we go pick up Laura-Lee and Geoff. So, while we headed back to Wasco to pick them up, Cremins and Adam generously started cooking our crayfish for us to bring home for dinner.
A few more beers in, and after Cremins, Donald, and Adam had all relieved themselves off the back of the boat, Cremins informed Laura-Lee and me, in the most charming way, where the women’s restroom was and that toilet paper was available upon request. If only I had a photo because words really can’t describe. There is a break in the railing on the port side of the boat with a bollard (bigger than the average cleat) in the center. They have tied some line from one end of the railing to the other for back support. He told us that we would have all the privacy we needed. They do have a restroom on the boat but it sounds like it’s been broken for quite some time, a few months, a year, not quite sure. I did my best to not have to use the bathroom but with that much beer consumption it’s impossible. Laura-Lee and I finally started talking, weighed our options, considered taking the dinghy back to Wasco, decided that would be rude so we headed for the loo. First, we looked things over to determine how we were going to tackle the situation, then we made sure that Donald kept everyone inside, then we went for it. I went first, dropped my pants, not too far, didn’t want them to land on the fishing boat, then standing backwards to the outside of the boat hoisted myself over the bollard and took a seat on the bulwark (the edge of the boat) with my bottom hanging out over the ocean. Laura-Lee then followed, which may have been a little more challenging being a little shorter. You can’t say we didn’t have a fabulous view!
By the time we left the Hananui, we had probably consumed a box of beer (and Cremins and Adam another box by themselves). Cremins did say that his pastime is drinking, and he is quite good at it from what I can see. He is clearly the trouble maker of the two. My guess is he looks forward to getting away from the missus and having his freedom on these fishing expeditions.
We learned a lot about the local boys who both reside down the coast in Mangonui and about crayfish fishing. They spend the season on the upper west coast of the North Island, laying out over 100 crayfish pots. Adam told us that crayfish can get too large to bother bringing home. Those are the ones they give away to cruisers like us or they just eat them. They get $100 a kilo for the crayfish so when they are too big it could cost up to $400 for one crayfish; who is going to pay that amount! We were treated to a $400 crayfish.
When we got back to Wasco, we quickly put our dinner together with no accompaniment of wine for me, too much Double Brown. I should also mention, we came back to the boat with a box of Double Brown. Cremins told Donald that he doesn’t trust wine drinkers and he wanted to make sure that the boys had enough beer, so they sent us home with a box.
I was told that Cremins shared a lot of “Sea-crets” to Donald when they were chatting it up outside but he’s keeping them close to his vest.
It was a great night of making new and unexpected friendships.
Photos courtesy of Geoff Love.