The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Tag: Marlborough

Lessons in Boating: So This Is Why My Father Told Me Never to Buy an Aluminum Boat.

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand in a camper van with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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Don’t ever buy an aluminum boat with rivets. This is never a good sight, but I must admit it evoked comical imagery from my Disney and Looney Toon-watching days. Word to the wise: A cork or partially chewed gum may work in the cartoons, but it most certainly does not work on an aluminum boat in the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Owen James Burke.

I promised I’d buy myself something classic for my seaward adventures in New Zealand. Something wooden, open-sea-worthy. Timeless. Big sweeping lines with a tall, sheer bow, ready for any swell the South Seas might throw her way. Instead, I ended up with a small, leaky tin boat. I suppose I got what I had coming.

We used to call those “fizzies”, my dad replied when I wrote to report that I’d purchased an old aluminum boat.

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Yes, the entire deck of my poor, neglected skiff doubles as a livewell and petting tank. At least my mussels, abalone and sea urchins can stay fresh. Photo: Owen James Burke.

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More (Mis)Adventures in #Vanlife: No More Bananas Permitted Aboard Raw Paua.

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand in a camper van with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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Photo: Owen James Burke.

The first time I was old enough to begin my quasi-annual fly fishing trips with my Uncle Thom, I pulled a banana from my boat bag about an hour into our day’s outing. Within what felt like the blink of an eye, the once-bitten banana was out of my hand and drifting downstream past the boat.

I wish I could have seen the confusion smeared across face. I have no doubt that my uncle got a kick out of it.

He later brought to my attention the old angler’s adage: never take bananas aboard a boat. Why?

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. . . Here’s why. Photo: Owen James Burke.

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Wish You Were Here: Kayaking Through Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand in a camper van with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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The Cook Strait is a tricky but enchanting body of water. It’s best to get on it early in the morning before the afternoon breeze kicks up. Photo: Owen James Burke.

Find a kayak, shove off the gold sand beach into gin-clear water and weave your way between granite and limestone cliffs. That’s the first thing you have to do when you get to the shores of Abel Tasman National Park. the rest is up to you, but I assure you, there’s no shortage of wonders small or large.

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Wish You Were Here: Soft Nights by the Sea with Raw Paua

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand, living in a house truck with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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A calm, cool night by the rivermouth with a bit of Mark Twain’s Roughing It only seemed right. Photo: Owen James Burke.

With a long lull in our otherwise relentless wintertime swells and a vicious case of hay fever, Raw Paua and I have taken a few days off from our seaward adventures.

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Photo: Owen James Burke.

It’s back on the road for us now, time to meet the southeast swell that’s skirting up the east coast. . . . –OJB

Wish You Were Here: Long, Fishless, Surfless Days in New Zealand

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand, living in a house truck with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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All quiet on the Tindori bow. As a Hawaiian fisherman once told me after one fruitless day of chasing marlin off Maui, “Da sea gotta win sometimes, too, bruddah!” Photo: Satoshi Fukase.

Sometimes you zig when you should have zagged. According to the surf report from the night before, 9am was the time to be at the rivermouth. When I woke up at 8, the air was as still and warm as it’d been all winter (it’s late winter “down under”) and the skies were clear. Who knows, we might even have paddled out without our heads bound in neoprene.

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The end of a long, fish-less, surf-less day with Raw Paua. Yes, I have sheep for neighbors. Photo: Owen James Burke.

I climbed into the wheelhouse of Raw Paua at 8:30 and, looking at my fuel gauges (I have two tanks), remembered that one was reading empty, and the other had been stuck at a half a tank for over a week. In summation, I was clueless as to whether I had enough fuel to make the 5 mile drive to the rivermouth and back.

Slapping together a cursory morning meal, I decided to chance the 10-12 mile trip up State Highway 1 to the next town, which happens to be the only place within something like 50 miles, I’m discovering, where I can get my fuel (propane) tanks filled.

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Wish You Were Here: Freshly-Dived Scallops, Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island, New Zealand

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand, living in a house truck with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds might just have the best scallops on the planet. Photo: Owen James Burke.

I forgot my dive fins yesterday, so it was a bit of a strain getting down to scallop depth (25-30 feet), especially in my floaty surfing wetsuit, but I managed to pull up a few, and at least I remembered the lemon.

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Wish You Were Here: Kahawai on the Fly, South Island Rivermouth, New Zealand

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand, living in a house truck with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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A South Island, New Zealand Kahawai, which, roughly translated from Māori means “strong in the water.” Photo: Owen James Burke.

Spring torrents are underway as waters warm here in New Zealand, and that means small trout-like minnows known as whitebait are starting to congregate around rivermouths as they begin their upriver journey to shallow culverts where, like salmon, they’ll mate and die.

The arrival of these hardy little fish (delicious morsels in their own right, but more on this later) also signals the return of large schools of kahawai (Arripis trutta), robust pelagic fish not unlike the Atlantic Ocean’s bluefish or Spanish mackerel, also known as eastern Australian salmon for their aerial acrobatics. The broad-shouldered brutes, as their indigenous name would suggest, are a fly-fisherman’s dream.

While kahawai aren’t generally considered to be the most desirable food fish, I, being from the school of thought that any fish can taste good if prepared with care, have done some experimenting with smoke, open flame, wok, lime (as ceviche)–even sashimi–and have yet to file (or receive) any grievances.

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Meet Raw Paua, My New Home, and My Inaugural Foray into #VanLife, Inspired by Cyrus Sutton

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This regal red-striped rover of a land yacht is Raw Paua, my new cabin on wheels. For the next few months, along with a surfboard, a speargun and a wok, I’ll be calling her home. Photo: Owen James Burke.

I’ve more or less been a city kid throughout most of my “adult” life. I’ve never really owned a car, except for a month or two here and there. I’ve never even stayed in any one place long enough to buy a car, either. But in New Zealand, at least for the itinerant salt-junkie such as me, it is categorically imperative. -OJB

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 Raw Paua’s first trip to the beach. The gratuities of #VanLife didn’t hesitate to make themselves known on our maiden voyage. . . . 10 minutes down the road. Photo: Owen James Burke.

A while back, my sagacious editor and advisor Chris Dixon, suggested a lifestyle change which I took with a grain of salt at first. His proposition? Move out of your house and into a van. But I’m a boat guy, I thought to myself, and wasn’t there a Saturday Night Live skit about this, with Chris Farley and David Spade? Could this have been his eloquent way of handing me my pink slip?

Some weeks later, Dixon put me in touch with professional surfer, filmmaker, and #VanLife guru Cyrus Sutton. In 2005, Cyrus bought a Ford Econoline, heavily customized it and hit the road. 10 years blew by, and this summer he was still occupying it full time when he moved into his dream van, a Mercedes Sprinter. Chatting with him about his van life over Skype from his Econoline, VanHalen, the idea took deeper root, and my wheels started churning. Maybe I could ditch the boat for a while and take to the road. Still, I was scratching my head at the idea of myself living in a van. Is this me?

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