I spent one evening randomly looking at a few yachts online when I cam across a very reasonably priced 39 ft keeler. If you imagine a spark hitting a pile of kerosene infused straw you more or less get the picture of what happened to my mind. I realised that the little dream I had been harboring for a few years suddenly became reality. I was going to do this and there was no going back.
Listening to the by now very silent voice of reason I decided to meet with a couple of local yacht owners. I was hoping that they might be able to put out the fire blazing away ferociously. The logic was clear. I have no experience sailing big yachts and surely committing to such a time and money eating hobby without plenty of prior experience is madness.
I did not expect the couple yacht club members to arrive at our lunch meeting bringing along a canisters of petrol. Instead of calming things down they made things worse. They assuring me that now was the best time to get into yachting and that prior knowledge was overrated. They explained that when it comes to yachting it is all about thinking with your heart and not with your head. I reckon I am quite an expert.
Well after 2 weeks of manically browsing the internet I have a boat. Reason did win over a little in the end and I have committed to a 2 year lease and plenty of mentoring from a local sailor. Isn’t she beautiful.
A fantastic day out on a fantastic boat with fantastic people! Yukie and I had an amazing time and managed not to throw up. The kids liked it too but were a bit put off by the sea sickness and the puking. Nina’s competition of who could throw most pizzas was exemplary of true fatalistic humor. Our exchange student from Thai clearly won the race. he leaned over the railings seven times.
I was hoping that this trip would put a damper on my obsessive pursuit of getting a yacht for spring. It did not! I came away feeling more certain than ever that I need a boat. Yukie equally enjoyed the day out and when at the end of the day we discussed over a glass of wine whether we should go for a big seaworthy boat or a smaller trailer yacht that we can take up to the lakes she suggested that maybe we needed one of each. I know why I married that woman!
The kids’ dream has finally come true. Horse riding in New Zealand is a bit like playing football in the UK. Everybody seems to do it. So we thought finding a riding school for our girls would be a doddle. Unfortunately we quickly realised learning to ride came with one major challenge, you need a horse. There is plenty of people willing to tech riding but they all expect you to have your own horse. Well we did after a bit of research and a lot of luck find the right person to teach Nina and Anna and supply horses at the same time.
I still feel nervous around these big creatures but it took our girls only a couple of days to get used to their new friends. Nina and Anna look like naturals even going bareback, although I have heard Anna is very good at falling off when going around corners.
As part of my Gold Challenge I cooked a 3 curse meal. For starters I prepared chicken liver patee with marmelaide and rocket salad on toads. The main curse was beef Wellington and fried potatoes and the desert was peach ice cream served on caramelised pineapples.
My sous chef was Anna who helped me a lot! Thanks Anna!
Check it out!
By the way I formatted and graded the pictures all by myself after my dad taught me how to use Photoshop. I guess I can add that to my challenges as well now? “Learning to work with Photoshop to grade images and optimize graphics for the web.”
そうそう、この本に出てくる ’The Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ この響きが何ともいえない。行ってみたい。濃厚にロマンチックで劇的でスペイン人の血を感じる本でした。
I remember a one week fencing and sailing camp I took part in when I was a teenager. I enjoyed the fencing but it never inspired me deeply. The sailing on the other hand I remember clearly. It left a deep trauma I never quite got over. Sailing boats don’t have breaks, and that is probably my strongest memory, losing control, tipping the boat and running into things like shores and other boats. I also remember the feeling when the wind catches your sail and the boat glides, or rather slices through liquid. It is an experience similar to surfing. You render some of your control over to the elements and just go with the flow.
It is time to awaken something of the past.
Yesterday Anna and I went down to the coast to catch some waves together but unfortunately the sea was flat. On the way back we passed our favorite little town Riverton and noticed people out in the estuary collecting something from the shallow waters. We did not realize straight away that the little black dots in the distance were actually bent over people. They looked more like rocks scattered around the seashore.
After we realised what they were up to we both got excited. “Hey Anna they are picking shellfish! Shall we try and get some before we head home?” Anna is not one to say no to any challenge especially if it involves running around the beach. So we made it down to the estuary and started looking for shells. According to Anna you need to look for little breathing holes in the sand and then dig. My head started filling up with images of myself presenting a big catch of shells to Yukie on return. Muscles in white wine…. but deep down I was doubtful. It is never quite that easy. We were unsuccessfull and gave up after about 10 minutes of digging.
If in doubt, ask the friendly locals! So we waited for an elderly couple to wade out of the shallow water and walked towards them to find out what they had been collecting. Pipi shells they explained are easy picking and taste beautiful. We obviously had missed the moment and the tide was now far to high to collect anything. Anna and I had a quick taste and to my amazement they were beautifully fresh and I was stunned at how nice these little shells tasted although a bit sandy.
We went home empty handed but we had an idea. Next morning we were back at low tide and we were in for a surprise. It was a bit like finding Aladdin’s cave. All we had to do was bend down and pick up the shells and once we had our share more friendly locals told us about further secret spots so we went on to get mussels…
I am a great enthusiast of all thing edible as long as they do not contain butter cream or lady fingers. Yukie is similar in that respect except that she loves lady fingers and isn’t averse to butter cream either. If Japanese proverbs are anything to go by, we are a little bit like the Chinese, we eat anything with four legs except tables and chairs. So one of the first stories to spark our imagination since arriving in New Zealand are about rather large and extremely tasty Paua shells, also known as Abalone or as the Japanese call them, Awabi.
When we lived in Tanegashima in Japan one of the best kept local secrets was where to find Nagarame and Anago shells. Both are a shell similar to Awabi but smaller. Tanegashima locals although warm and welcoming are generally not keen to share their hunting grounds with foreigners (meaning non islanders). But they could not resit the enthusiasm of a famously friendly and very popular foreigner like myself. After half a years worth of strategic nagging on my behalf I was finally taken down a mountain track through the bush to the rocky seashore where the promised abundance of Awabi left me with a sense of disappointment. After a couple of hours of crawling around on my knees and looking under random rocks for well camouflaged minuscule shells I came away with a catch big enough to serve as a starter and plenty of bruises and cuts. According to my local guide, as little as ten years ago, the shellfish were much larger and found in greater abundance. I guess years of indiscriminate foraging might explain why the shells are disappearing and why the locals are a little shy and maybe even embarrassed to reveal what is left of their treasured shell picking spots.
The hunt for Paua on the other hand turned out to be more than I could have hoped for and has prompted me to write a simple manual on how to catch Paua in Southland.
- Drive to a rocky coast line with plenty of kelp. Kelp is important because Paua eat it. I like to eat kelp too, even though it has no legs.
- Ask a friendly looking local where the best Paua diving spot is.
- Follow their instructions, take a deep breath and be amazed by the abundance of food available on the sea bottom. Abundance means locals are often friendly and eager to share useful information.
- Take care not to get entangled in the kelp, as that might bring on a mild panic and cause you to lose you weight belt, including the first lot of Paua’s you collected. If that happens just go back into the freezing water and start over. This time diving will be much harder due to lack of weights.
- Try and source a post 1980s wetsuit, preferable with no holes in it and you will not go blue after 20 minutes.
- Make sure you stick to size and number limits. This preserves abundance which in turn means friendly and forthcoming locals. (see point 3) It also stops you from getting your car impounded and incurring a hefty fine.
今 日はパパのアワビ取り初チャレンジ！こちらのアワビは日本のアワビより大きめでなんといっても黒い足が特徴。パウアといいます。穏やかな天気で波もないは ず！と海に向かって出かけるとそれらしき人が潜っているではないか！早速車を停めてパパが情報収集に行く。あわびは取れなかったがうにはとれたらしい。と りあえず先に進むと今度はアワビがごろごろ入ったバケツを前に話しているお兄ちゃんたちを発見。これはいけるかも？！このお兄ちゃんが親切にも「早く入ら ないと満潮になるよ。あそこら辺でもぐるといいよ。」と教えてくれた。パパさん、入水。そしてなんと大きなあわびを4個も取ってきてくれました！ウェイ ト、フィンもなしでしかもアワビを入れる袋もなしでスーパーの 袋をぶら下げていったのだけれど、潜っている最中にわかめにひっかかって何個もアワビを落としてしまったらしい。それにしてもすごい大きさ！
It has been nearly 3 full months since we moved here and time seems to have flown by. I started my new job shortly after we got here and in between working full time, organizing various insurance, moving 3 times and buying a house I have had little time to really get to see much of the landscape of “Lord of the Rings”. Sure I went surfing a few times and I certainly cannot complain about the consistency and the quality of the surf here. Considering the random five or six early weekend mornings I have been sneaking out to catch a couple of waves, I have been fortunate to have good size offshore surf some of the time.
But it is the curiosity of what lies just 100km South of here that had been plaguing me these last few weeks. The promise of bigger swells and nicer beaches, wild mountainous terrain and dirt tracks through the wilderness had been the cause of my restless obsession about the Christmas holidays and all of the trips and adventures we would be getting into.
Well Christmas has come and gone and we spent a lot of time eating, drinking and watching videos together hoping for the weather to change…
Although our epic adventure trip was downgraded to a day trip that in turn was upgraded to an unplanned and badly prepared 2 day trip, we managed to finally get to see some of the amazing countryside Southland has to offer.
We travelled from Invercargill South via the coastal Southern Scenic Route.
The further South you go the less sheltered the beaches are from open ocean swells. Up to Riverton Aparima, Stewart Island seems to have a calming effect on the sea, providing a barrier between the open ocean swells and the coastline. Once you get past Colac Bay the scenery changes dramatically. About 30 km past Riverton on our way to Gemstone Beach the sight of the regular swell lines extending into the distance made me all jumpy like a little child at the sight of snow flakes outside the window. It got so excited I had to pull over and get out of the car.
I walked up to the edge of the Cliffs to take in the overwhelming sight of swell lines, their floorboard like regular pattern cueing to roll in to the beach and break perfectly.
I am not a brilliant surfer by any standards but I recognise good surf when I see it. As luck has it the wind turned and the tide was less than favourable by the time I managed to get in the water. The conditions had changed into a bit of an onshore mess leaving me with an hour of getting tumbled (I am very good at that) and enjoying the scenery (I am good at that too).