I grew up around boats. As a kid, we had a batch up in the Coromandel, so many weekends were spent with my parents, on or around the family boat. But, we also sold the batch while I was still relatively young, so I never really had the opportunity to actually ‘be in charge’ of the boat – apart from paddling around in the dingy.
Life being life, I got away from fishing and all things nautical on the whole and only recently became interested in it again. I knew that one thing I would be keen to do was to get back on a boat. Obviously, for the fishing opportunities, but also because I remember the fun as a kid I had on one, and I want to share that with my kids as well.
I have recently been on a boat with the brother a fair few times. Though he generally has been the ‘skipper’.
I knew work had a boat available to staff. But I was keen to also tick off a couple of other things before looking to use that.
- I attended the Coastguards Day Skipper Course – just to provide some general information and knowledge on boating
- I had a fairly thorough induction by the company’s ‘Maintenance Officer’ – Tristian – who generally looks after the boat. He had also recently qualified as a ‘Caption’ – he went through all the ins and outs of this particular boat, as only someone who has actually spent quite a bit of time with one can. This also was a good time to check everything was working, as this would be the boat’s first run for a while.
- I researched multiple boat ramps – finding out that the Te Atatu Boat Club – just up the road from Work, had an all-tide ramp available. Removing one potential complication from planning.
- I watched far, far too many videos online about solo launching on youtube
- I planned a short trip, not heading out very far nor really trying to achieve too much
Solo? Why Solo?
I had pondered asking if my brother was available, and Tristian offered to take me on our first trip (timing didn’t quite work out) – but in the end, I was keen to just head off by myself.
I figured removing the extra complications and pressure of other people there (managing expectations, simply not having to deal with extra people) would be the best option for me. If you haven’t figured this out by now, I am a bit of a chronic overthinker. Extra people complicate this. I can make things plenty complex enough without having to involve others.
There will be plenty of time for me to take the kids out, other staff members (keen to get some of the more ‘non-fisherfolk’ out for some adventures) and probably even my brother! But the first step was to be able to focus on getting things sorted myself.
So. The Plan. And execution.
Head out from Te Atatu, stay within the Inner Waitamatā Harbour, putter around in the boat, test some gear, and maybe have a fish.
I grabbed the boat on Saturday Morning, hooked the trailer up to the truck and headed 5 minutes up the road to the ramp. As hoped/expected/planned – the ramp was essentially empty. I was looking to launch at 9 am – with the general thought that the keen fishos would already have gone. This was also part of the reason I decided to launch at this ramp – while it’s a ramp available for anyone to use, there is a $20 ramp fee. So it’s not quite a ‘public ramp’.
This meant I didn’t have to rush, could take my time with the backing up of the trailer (I am not bad, but I am also not the quickest) – launching the boat and so on.
The launch was simple enough. I took the trailer further back into the water than I probably needed to. This meant I had a bit of trailer hopping to do and got the shoes wetter than they needed to be. However, the boat slipped nicely into the water and was tied against the dock. Off to park, then hopped into the boat.
The boat started first go (as you would hope) – and I backed into the channel and slowly started to make my way out into slightly deeper water. As it was, I had launched just after low tide. I know the ramp and channel would be fine, though; the boat itself has a fairly shallow profile in the water.
It was essentially a case of staying between the channel markers and keeping an eye on the depth. Once I reached the harbour, I headed to Kauri Point to get a line wet.
Spoiler. Didn’t catch anything.
I quickly realised that my line was too heavy and the tackle too light.
Thinking I would be fishing in mainly shallow waters, I opted for some of the Berkley PowerBait Power Grub Soft Baits. These are on the edge of ‘micro-baits’ – and coupled with some light heads, I figured they would be a good option for some light soft baiting.
Unfortunately, while I think I have ‘light’ rigs – certainly compared to what I grew up with, they are not light by some standards. A 20lb braid was enough to slow down the descent of the jigs, and the current turned out to be much stronger than I thought. The result was casting out with the current and watching the line just carry on heading out as the bait was pulled back into the harbour, or, alternatively, casting into the current and not having the bait get down onto the bottom before running under the boat.
Ironically, I think I should have just loaded up my Slow Jig Rig – and used that! Ah well. Fishing wasn’t exactly the point of the trip, but a bite or two would have been nice.
I soon realised the futility of the exercise and decided to head up the harbour for exploration instead.
I also brought along a bit of a setup to test a couple of transducers. While we can do some tests on a select range of transducers in the office, other transducers really need to be done out on the water. I grabbed a couple of suction mounts and a selection of cables and adaptors and had the boat’s dash soon filled up with electronics. I quickly ascertained that the units I brought with me were fine, and the one in the boat needed some work! I think it’s time to clean up the cabling and electronics in the boat a bit to get some clean, reliable power for a start!
And Back Again
After a few solid hours out on the boat, I headed back to shore. Loading the boat up was a relatively painless process, but gumboots are definitely on the shopping list! While I realise I could go barefoot – I am not so big on that as an idea in the middle of winter. Either that or I just need to not back the trailer in quite as far.
Back to work, thorough clean up of the boat and motor and the day was done!
Again, this will seem a fairly benign day for some of you. However, it was a solid tick on the list of things I wanted to achieve that set me up well for some further adventures, both alone and with the kids. It got me some practice in a boat by myself, set up a testbench for some further work testing and gave me a list of things to sort for the next trip. Good day!