Seaview, New Zealand – December 21, 2017
We saw our boat, the Daniel, entering the marina from Wellington Harbour. At 62 feet (19 meters), it is a good-sized boat. It is white with a red gunwale. As each of us walked up the stairs and stepped on board, Captain Pete greeted us with a smile and a handshake.
Behind the pilothouse was a small room with a dining table and storage cabinets. Leaving that room, one is on the deck. There is a roof above about half of the deck. The remainder is open and not shaded.
Leslie and I took up positions near the door to the dining area, under cover. All of the fishing poles were rigged, baited, and standing in rod holders evenly spaced along the gunwale. As the Daniel reversed and began to make its way through the marina, we marveled at homes above Point Howard. They have a commanding view of the harbor.
Moored just outside the Seaview Marina was the oil products tanker ship, Pacific Rainbow. It is a 28,000-gross ton ship, capable of carrying as much as 46,000 tons of product. At just under 600 feet (180 meters), it is small for a tanker. I imagine that is due to the depth of the harbor. More massive ships probably have too deep a draft to dock at Seaview. The contents of the tanker are pumped to holding tanks at the Mobil Petroleum Products Company for ultimate distribution throughout New Zealand.
Once in the open waters of the harbor, Captain Pete pointed the boat toward the southern point of Somes Island. It is the largest island in the harbor. Currently a reserve under the control of the Department of Conservation, the island previously served as an internment camp and a quarantine location for both humans and mammals.
We passed Somes Island off the starboard side of the boat. I did not realize until this trip that there is a lighthouse on the island. The current tower dates from 1900, while the original lighthouse dates from 1866. It is one of 23 operating lighthouses in New Zealand.
The weather became windier. Luckily, the wind was out of the north, so it was not really cold. Throughout the afternoon, it became more and more cloudy. The good news, we did not have any rain.
Continuing, off the port side of the boat, we could see the Point Halswell Lighthouse. It sits on the northern point of the Miramar peninsula.
For bait, the hooks had either fish or squid pieces. Each pole had two baited hooks and a lead weight of about 12 ounces. There was no casting. One placed a thumb on the wound fishing line on the reel, released the drag, and allowed the line to drop to the harbor floor. As soon as the weight hit the harbor floor, one re-engaged the drag, wound once or twice and then waited. The water was about 65 feet deep (20 meters).
Very quickly, people started hooking fish. The most prevalent fish was the kahawai. I had a large kahawai hooked, but just at the surface, it jumped off. I did not catch anything else the rest of the afternoon.
Leslie did land a good cooking-size kahawai a little later. Captain Pete commented that there was a school of kahawai near us, as evidenced by the sea birds. Several types of seabirds circled near the boat, diving periodically for the fish.
In addition to the kahawai, two red gurnard, one red snapper, and one barracuda found their way onto the Daniel. When a fish made it to the deck of the boat, either Captain Pete or the deckhand removed the hook, dispatched the fish, and placed it in a cooler. They also assisted with snags and tangles, of which there were a few.
The fishing expedition was communal. That means that all fish caught are filleted and distributed evenly to those fishing. So, even though I did not land a fish, I still got an even share of the total catch. When the cooler was full, the deckhand began filleting the fish. He never gutted any of the fish. He filleted both sides and then removed the skin. The deckhand tossed the remains over the side, much to the delight of the seagulls…and who knows what in the depths.
When the first fishing hole petered out (no pun intended), the captain weighed anchor and motored the boat near the port. That meant that while we fished, we could watch the loading of ships. There were two ships docked at the port, a container ship, the other boat was a cargo ship, taking on logs from New Zealand bound for China.
After 30 or 40 minutes, Captain Pete moved the boat to a spot just off the west side of Somes Island. That is where one of the fishermen caught the lone barracuda. The captain said the barracuda was not a keeper because of the worms they usually carry. Instead, the barracuda became bait.
We had fished for a little over six hours when we left the west side of Somes Island, bound for the Seaview Marina. By the time we arrived, the deckhand had all of the fillets in 21 separate plastic bags. Since we received two, I estimate Leslie and I ended up with about two pounds of fish.
Two nights after the fishing trip, we had the fish for dinner along with a trout that a friend had given us. I must say, I was not all that wild with the kahawai. I much preferred the trout. Regardless, the fishing trip was a lot of fun.