Off Mana Island

The boat wrenched and skidded on. My hair matted to my forehead, rain stinging my eyes.

I yelled through the gale, “How close are we?”

“Should be right in front of you,” came the terse reply.

“As if the weather’s my fault” mumbling, hoping being down wind would drown me out.

“Just loop it round once and shout when you’ve done it. I’ll shut the motor and we can secure the fucking thing up and get the hell off it.”

Dad wasn’t in a good mood. He had them of course, but this wasn’t one.

But he wasn’t all thunderstorms this morning, and the skies weren’t either. Up and away early, a hot coffee nestled expertly between his legs and a little brown paper bag with a sausage roll inside, he was already arguing expertly at the radio announcer at the other end of the wire who was deaf to his protestations.

It was a real tour de force – rattling off the well-worn, tin-shed pearls of wisdom. Warning against an imminent, wholesale selling off of the country’s assets. He was right of course, no one’s happy with what’s going on. Nor does anyone understand it. But we voted that dickhead in didn’t we. Or was it ‘they’…

More to the point, today’s expedition was to enjoy some of those exact things we hold dear as a nation; the blue-green coastal waters and all the silver skinned fish in there that dad was keen to purloin.

“God’s own, this place,” shaking his head and brushing the pastry off curly haired thighs.

He was probably just sore from the weekend’s loss to the Aucklanders, I thought. “Wankers” was all he’d said as we went through the turnstiles after the game. I’m still not sure if he was talking about the visitors or the home team.

All in all he was cheery enough though. I knew it’d been a while since we’d been out on the white caps, and he knew I was making an effort. I could tell he was happy about that. He was just showing off.

For a little while.

Things really started to get bumpy when we arrived at the boat ramp. As usual, Paul Curtin was there already, ready to deliver his pride-and-joy into the water like a doctor would a baby.

“Bastard,” to no one in particular. “Just our luck, this tit’s going to take all morning getting that piece of flotsam in”.

It wasn’t really a piece of shit of course, actually it was a pretty nice boat, with more horsepower than he could probably handle. Which is funny because that was often the case with the ladies in his life. A testament to this being the fancifully calligraphed sweep of a name along the bow that changed like the tides – we hadn’t met this current beau (‘Chrissy’) yet. At least he wasn’t tattooing their names across his chest, or his will.

“Hi Tom, Jake. Pretty great day for it!”

“More like a long wait for it,” the bear grumbled.

“Sorry Tom, missed that. What?”

“Boat’s looking good” dad shouted, “as plastic as the new bimbo I bet” again, to me.

“Dad, come on, he’s not so bad. I bet you’d like to get a glance from one of those girls, if mum wasn’t looking. Or if you had it in you,” I laughed, ducking under a playful, swatting paw.

“He won’t be long and anyway, you know you always lean on his sounding machine when we’re out there for a tip or two.”

“And it kills me every time,” looking into the middle distance. “That guy’s a canny son of a bitch, too. He’s either the most cleverly disguised genius of a fisherman or I don’t know what.”

“See you out there boys, hope they’re biting aye!” Paul yelled happily, his boat humming gently atop the water with hardly a ripple, like the Jesus of Pauatahanui. Something that wasn’t missed by dad.

“Come on, let’s get this bit of trusty junk wet and show him how it’s done.”

Half an hour later and we’re breaching the headlands of the harbour, gunning for a deep gash in the shadow of Mana Island where the fish bounced off each other in a tumult of scales and burly’d frenzy.

I was digging for the peanut-butter sandwiches already.


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