Holiday harvest with good mates worth all the effort
It is a good thing I was able to go on a dive just a few days before Christmas, as I seriously doubt I would get into my wetsuit now, even with the new technology in stretchy rubber.
I was hoping to get out for a quick snapper fish, but with all the rush we seem to allow ourselves to be dragged into I just didn't get time - or rather I never made the time available. I'm not too worried, though, as once again I was in some very good company.
You may remember last week when I forgot to take my BCD (buoyancy control device). Well, as I said then, there is usually someone who forgets something and to emphasise how common this is, one of our crew (I won't name him, but we'll call him Bob for the sake of the story) left his BCD and regulator at home this trip.
As much as these things are amusing, it is a good idea to have a bit of a list somewhere, even if it sits on top of your gear so you can double check you have everything you need. Although it's not a huge issue, as others share their gear, it can also be a bit unnerving, as you are not so familiar with someone else's gear and this can often make your dive less enjoyable.
On this particular trip, Garry had a specific mission in mind, which was to recover a knife he had left sitting on a rock in 17 metres of water on a previous dive. The fact that it didn't belong to him was perhaps the driving force behind it.
This is no mean feat, as when you are under water, rocks can all look very similar, but he knew which rock it was on and, to his credit, he found it - much to Jim's pleasure.
To show his prowess, Garry even came back with a sinker someone had obviously lost when it got stuck among the same outcrop of rocks. If that wasn't enough, he also came up with his quota of good crayfish, so he was handy to have on board this trip. Oh, hang on, it was his boat.
The rest of us did all right and we were assured of some fine seafood to grace the Christmas tables.
Al did a good job on the butterfish and Bob landed the biggest cray, about 2.8kg (6.5lbs). With scallops gathered on the way home, we were all pretty happy.
I try not to take for granted the opportunity to do trips like these, and doing them with such good people is an added bonus.
It sounds glorious and perhaps easy, but this isn't the case.
To get a trip like this requires a bit of preparation and planning - not everyone can go at short notice or on the given day or the tides may be bad or a weather front coming. Add to this the need to fuel the boat up and get ice for the catch, make lunch and take plenty to drink so you stay hydrated.
Of course, doing a couple dives also takes it out of you, especially as you get older and are not as fit as you once were. I often get up the next day, knowing that I have done some exercise that has stretched a few muscles.
I'm not sure how you do that diving, but perhaps it's trying to get into caves or being upside down looking under ledges.
Anyway, I do feel tired the next day.
It doesn't stop there, either. We are usually meeting up at 6.30am or so and, by the time we get home and wash the boat and clean the fish, it is often about 12 hours after we started, so rest assured we work hard for our catch.
We all pay a share of the fuel costs, so you can see nothing comes for free. There is always a cost to someone, somewhere in time or money or both.
Do we still want to to go out? You bet - not because we are greedy, but because we love what we are doing and, yes, we do share our catch with those who cannot do it themselves, so we have plenty of motivation to get out.
I often think there will come a time when I'm not able to do such activities and, because I can't predict the future, I have no idea when that time will come, so I will make the most of it while I can.
I encourage the divers and fishermen reading this to take someone new to the sport out during the holiday period and help them out with a few pointers. This can be even more rewarding than catching or gathering seafood at times.
I have had a great year and have plans to do more of the same next year, so stay tuned and thanks for following our adventures in 2012.
The Marlborough Express