This is my mate Evan. Evan and I go way back, back far enough… - Tactical Ninja
Jan. 8th, 2014
This is my mate Evan.
Evan and I go way back, back far enough that the YoT was not yet born and I was still with my husband, living in Dargaville. He's been a charter skipper (among other things) since forever and is one of those Genuine Kiwi Jokers, all number 8 wire and pottering in the shed and deer hunting on the weekends. I hadn't seen him for over 10 years.
Back in the day, only the southern island of the Poor Knights was reserve, and you could fish the northern one within usual bag limits. Nowadays, the whole area is a marine reserve. This apparently makes the diving better, and the Knights are considered by some among the top ten spots in the world. I'm no diver (can't equalise my ears), but I enjoy snorkelling and fishing, and when we decided to do a road trip up north, I gave Evan a call.
Much to my surprise, he was pleased to hear from me and dead keen to take us out.
Short aside here: it probably seems weird to be surprised that someone from my past was pleased to hear from me, but you have to remember that
a) Back then my husband had me convinced that the only reason anyone would like me is because they want something.
b) I disappeared with no word for ten years.
c) Pretty much everyone I left behind in that town has a dim view of me because mums don't abandon their children.*
So I was kind of expecting to find Evan being at the least disapproving of my choices. I was overwhelmed to discover that not only had his liking for me been genuine, but he was rapt that I'd got back in touch and more than happy to continue keeping in touch. And I can finally believe it, thanks to the people I know now. That's why I was off the radar for ten years - I was busy reinventing myself into who I am today with the help of you lot, and to do that I had to break contact with my past to avoid the nipping and niggling of old thought patterns that would hold me back.
Long story short, it worked. And now, I am able to finally revisit parts from Back Then, and remember that some of that stuff was genuinely good, and real, despite efforts to make me doubt it**. Evan is one of those parts.
Here is a picture of his boat:
This isn't the boat I used to go out on. Harpoon is a little wee trailer boat, about half the size of this one. But we took her out on the blue water anyway, and I have many happy memories of days on that boat with my girlfriend Kiri. People used to look sideways at us all, because Evan always seemed to have a boat full of bikini-clad (or naked) women, and it was an easy jump for small minds to assume that he was an old perv. It never seemed to occur to people that he had a constant stream of scantily-clad women on his boat precisely because he's NOT an old perv. Let's face it, you might get your gear off once, alone on a boat with a man. But if he makes any untoward moves, you'd not get on that boat again, right? And I spent several years making regular trips with this man and never felt unsafe.
I rest my case.
Meanwhile, Chance was once a green-and-white beauty. But Evan, using Evan-logic, decided his life would be much less stressful if he wasn't constantly worrying about clients dropping sinkers and chipping his paint, or cutting bait on the stern boards. So the first thing he did when he bought it was to buy some grey paint and brushes, and bring Chance down in the world a bit. He reckons working charter boats are going to get knocked around, so perhaps they should look the part. Hence, Chance is the skoadiest looking boat at the marina. Except maybe for that one that for some reason the seagulls had claimed...
But appearances are deceiving, and Chance is a pretty cool boat. I will always have a soft spot for Harpoon, but I admit that having more space, a proper toilet, and somewhere to get out of the sun, really do improve your day out fishing. Having said that, should Harpoon ever come up for sale it may be difficult to convince me I don't need to own a boat. Hmm..
Anyway, to the fishing! At 25 knots on twin inboard diesels, it took a bit longer than usual to get to the Knights (Harpoon could pull 40 knots), especially going via the Pinnacles, every bird-disturbance we saw on the way out, and Skippy Alley. Skippy Alley being any current line that runs around that area, where you're almost guaranteed to catch skipjack tuna. Bait secured, we went proper fishing - after a short tour of the seaward side of the Knights.
Here is a picture of me probably not catching a fish:
But it looks the part, right? Here is a picture of me imitating a T-Rex while Dr Wheel actually catches a fish:
And here is a picture of my tope:
We didn't get a decent shot of it the right way up, because they get a bit disoriented coming up from 100m, and this one decided that where the water was must be up, or something. Also, we didn't want to further stress it by bringing it into the boat. We cut the nylon close to its mouth, leaving the hook in (they rust away very quickly), and after a few seconds the shark righted itself and off it went.
One of the things I found amusing was the way Evan, even after ten years, expected me to be able to jump in the driver's seat on a boat I'd never seen before, and operate it. "Here, just steer us toward that point over there! Quick, whack it into neutral, we're hooked up! Chase that school of mackerel!" And when someone lays out an expectation like that, well.. what was I supposed to do?
It was pretty fumbly and I wouldn't brag too hard about my boat-skippering skills as displayed that day, but I reckon given a bit of time to familiarise myself with the controls and it'd come back to me pretty quickly.
There is a chance (heh!) that sometime in the relatively near future, Evan will sell Harpoon. He's retired from official skippering and now only takes out his friends and regulars. He doesn't need two boats, and having an easy boat parked at the marina makes a lot more sense for him. I am toying with the idea of asking him to let me know should he decide to finally part with her.
This is probably a bad idea spawned from my relief at finding parts of my past that were genuinely good, combined with nostalgia for a time when fishing was pretty much the only bright spot in my life, and the desire to not see an era end with the sale of everyone's favourite skoady boat.*** But some of my best ideas have been bad ones, so I'm reserving judgement on that until it actually happens.
Anyway, whether that pans out or not, I can't really articulate how happy I am to have re-established this particular relationship. It's also likely to lead to finding another old friend who I suspect was genuine and who was a victim of my need to purge. I hope she's as understanding as Evan was.
* NB I didn't abandon the YoT. I jumped through fiery fucking hoops to maintain a relationship with him. But that's not the story that most Dargaville types swallowed, eh?
** My husband was convinced that Evan wanted to sleep with me, and nothing would persuade him that it was possible for a man to genuinely enjoy my company with no strings attached. These days I realise that says more about him than it does about me or Evan, but back then .. yeah, I was different.
*** Harpoon is no more skoady than Chance, but is painted the same chipped, battleship grey and has the same dodgy, well-used appearance. That's because she is well-used, because she's a damn good boat.