Mid-October saw a crew of AFC members heading up to Rangiputa in the “Tropical North”; the weather this time of year can be hit or miss but our gracious host Phil Nofins called in some favours with the local weather Gods and we were blessed with some awesome sunshine.
A small crew of Phil, Simon, Chris and Julia managed to sneak away Thursday afternoon and helped with some bach spring cleaning chores Friday morning. After the mahi of pruning trees, etc., was done, the workers were rewarded with a dive Friday afternoon when the tides were more favourable.
Simon “I want a tractor for Xmas” Holt was the one doing the damage yet again and landed two great fish, a 20kg+ Kingfish and a fantastic Trevally. Great effort - the early morning recce by Simon and Chris must have helped or it could’ve been Simon’s morning dive ritual of cooking bacon and eggs to the gentle rhythm of the smoke alarm siren blaring.
The rest of the crew Matt, Ali, Vaughan, Kat, Nate, Adrian, Susan and Nicky arrived later on Friday and after checking into the second bach, we were all soon enjoying a cold beer on Phil’s deck watching the sunset over the Rangaunu Harbour and tucking into a gourmet seafood dinner courtesy of Simon’s catch and expertly prepared by Phil consisting of Kingfish and Trevally sashimi followed by fried Kingfish with Japanese mayo crumb – another tough day in the South Pacific.
Blue skies greeted the team on Saturday morning and we were frothing to get in the water. The gear was stowed into the two RIBS and after a short briefing by our host and guide Phil, the crew was soon into their first dive. Diving the harbour consisted of drift diving, using the howling current from the outgoing tide. Divers were dropped in pairs on the inside of the harbour and then drifted with the outgoing current towards and then over the reef and then got picked up by the boatie on the other side of the reef and repeat.
Divers from each pair would alternate taking a turn to drop and stay on the bottom approx. 4m using the current to cover ground while scanning for fish. A surprising distance was travelled on each drop, Kingis and Trevally should be facing into the current and hopefully meeting up with the pointy end of a spear from one of the divers. Vis was not great at 3-5m, and after a few drifts the call was made to head out the harbour to some outer islands for hopefully better vis and then return to the harbour in the arvo for another go at the kings.
On the way out we tried one more spot that offered a few bommies and some rocky structure, Ali and I were dropped by boatie Simon on the outer edge of this area to tackle a bommie. After a number of unsuccessful drops, we were joined by Simon, who had anchored the boat away from swell and wind. It wasn’t long before Simon’s 6th sense found him in the X spot and with a respectable Kingi on the end of his spear.
Divers were then loaded and the two RIBS and headed out to Moturoa Island on the Norwestern side of the Karikari peninsula, refuelling along the way on some of Nicky's famous baking. The vis was a lot better out wide, 12-15m, so the boats separated with divers again pairing up for safety and we then started working weed lines and snooping shallow ledges for snapper. Kat and Nate had a good haul including Blue Mao Mao and Sweep. Some seals were sunbathing and swimming nearby which was maybe the reason for it being a bit slow, so after about an hour we packed up and started making our way back into the harbour for the afternoon incoming tide and hopefully some cleaner water.
Pairs were again deployed and the drop and drift technique was soon underway. On the second drift as Ali and I were approaching the reef structure, a school of Kahawai turned up. I did a drop to the bottom and a Kingi came into view just at the end of the patchy vis. As the current helped close the distance, a good holding shot was placed and with the help of my dive buddy Ali to free the buoy line, a 15.5kg Kingi was soon in the float boat.
Not much else was seen, so Phil made the call to try another spot on the other side of the channel, a few divers jumped in here but the vis was not great. After a few drifts, nothing was landed, possibly due to a pod of dolphins putting on a spectacular acrobatic show for those on the boats, so the decision was made to head home and clean up.
After washing the boats/gear and filleting was complete, the team settled down to some awesome kai moana, a little rehydration and board games (Adrian “twitchy finger” mastered the dark art of this new game called Jungle Speed well). A good time was had Saturday night hanging out.
The weather on Sunday was mint, so a few dedicated spearos headed out for a half-day mish while the rest stayed back chilling and doing some yoga.
Overall a great trip North, special thanks to Phil for his hospitality, Kat for a lot of the organising and the two camp-mothers Nate and Ali “midnight chatterbox” for arranging the groceries required.
For those that have not yet been on a club trip, I would strongly encourage you to give it a go, as you can see they are great fun and a benefit of being an AFC member. Keep a lookout for when the next trip is advertised and get amongst it!
Until next time!