Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Local Circumnavigation

My sea kayak has been loaded onto the trusty rusty Honda and I am off to circumnavigate Limestone Island which is a local bird sanctuary. I am interested in seeing close up the native bushes that I helped plant many years ago on a DOC (Department of Conservation) volunteer planting day. I wasn't disappointed. All the native bushes and trees that had been planted seemed to be big and bushy and thriving.

In the background of the first photo is the very lovely Cygnet - she is feeling jealous, - " Don't get too comfortable with that slim, sleek bimbo of a kayak" she says - " Just remember who it is that's got a mast and a sail." - "Of course I won't forget," I reply - " Us sailors always stick together don't we?" - This seems to satisfy her and she gives me a wink. That's the way it is with P class yachts - beautiful but stroppy.

At Onerahi I back the Honda down the launching ramp. Limestone Island is in the background.

I could afford to buy myself some sort of very flash car - but I am not really a car person. I like cars and value them and use them every day but I have a tendency not to look after them very well - I mean, I put the petrol in them and get them serviced and all that sort of thing - but I don't spend a lot of time polishing them or ogling them. I prefer to polish and ogle something that is really worthy - something that floats, runs down wind like smoke and has a tiller to hold.
AND - I have found that a car that is not looked after and polished and cleaned too much has a lot of advantages. I will never lose this car in a supermarket car park. I will always be able to find it. All have to do is look for the dirty charcoal coloured Honda Accord with the dent in the back, the dungery old roof rack and the bird droppings on the bonnet - easy peasy!

Speaking of birds - these oyster catchers were on the beach at Limestone Island. By the time I got there the wind was up and a light drizzle of rain had started. The oyster catchers were facing into the wind and had tucked their long bills under their wings.
"Gidday Kiwis" I called.
"Humrpff" they replied, "We aren't Kiwis, we are Oyster Catchers!"
"Yes you are," I said. "Everyone who is born in New Zealand is a Kiwi !"
"Oh," they said, put their heads under their wings and went back to sleep.

Limestone Island is not very big and it only takes about 40 minutes of paddling to get right round. It used to have a quarry on it and also a brick works. I am glad it is now a reserve. Over the years I have seen a change in the landscape as the bush returns. Being isolated from the mainland means the Kiwi and other native birds that are released on the island have - in conjunction with a predator eradication programme - a fighting chance of survival.

On the south side of the island are the remains of the old brick works. To the right of the brick works and on the foreshore are the remains of the "Tiri" an old boat that was a famous pirate radio station during the 1970s in New Zealand. In those days there were no private radio station licenses. The Tiri anchored far offshore just inside International waters and broadcast popular music to Auckland listeners. The radio station was successful but did have the unhappy tendency to break free or drag her anchors during very bad weather and there is a long history of dramas and near sinkings. I can't remember the full story of her demise (that is your Google Homework for the week dear readers - teachers like me have a tendency to set homework) but she ended her days as a hulk here in Whangarei harbour on the shores of Limestone Island.

Back in the car with the kayak on the roof rack. I just manage to beat the very heavy rain. I then try an experimental photograph. If I smile very, very, very hard like this it pulls the double chin around my neck upwards in a great gravity defying feat of elasticity - the result being that it makes me look at least three days younger than I really am, not something to be sniffed at when you are 57 - cunning aren't I?


Delwyn said...

That's very interesting Mr 'Slim chin'... I enjoyed that informative paddle, tho felt a little queasy in the green chop... I vaguely remember pirate radio stations in NZ. Who held the monopoly on broadcasting - the govt? You can put the loss of the double chin down to the exercise you have just undertaken... the before and after photos are proof.

Alden said...

Yes, at the time all radio in New Zealand was state owned. I think there was a bit of a watershed in the 1980s at that time internationally as parts of the radio spectrum were sold off to private companies - before that I seem to remember there being similiar sorts of pirate radio ships in the UK.

The before and after photos actually show that the smiling worked :-)

Mr. Kinder said...

Hi, Alden,

I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for bringing us along on your paddle.

Like you, I love being on the water in small boats both kayaking and sailing.

I prefer tillers to steering wheels, and a kayak cockpit to a bucket seat.

Six years ago, though, I caught a case of car fever with complications born of a genetic predisposition to car racing. I succumbed to the desire for a sporty car, a nimble little Subaru WRX. I wish I had your antibodies!

Instead of the assigned homework,
I Google mapped Limestone Island. I even saw Onerahi.

Enjoyable post, thank you!

Alden said...

Thanks for your comments Dan. I know the Subaru WRX well - they are all over NZ as the boy racers car of choice. As a result they are the most stolen car in New Zealand!! (sold for parts or repainted and sold).

When I purchased my Honda I took a number of cars for a test drive. One of them was a Turbo Charged Subaru WRX - the acceleration was breathtaking, the speed amazing and it was a dream to drive - I instinctively knew that if I purchased the Subaru I would be dead in a week. So I settled for the more sedate Honda - which has been a good reliable car.

Google map is great isn't it. There is a new google map available now in many countries called I think 'Street View' - you can find a house anywhere and rotate the view you have in the street 360 degrees - truely amazing. To make the software possible a fleet of cars is dispatched with multiple cameras mounted on their roofs and every street in the land is driven down and photographed.

Alden said...

And one other thing Dan - I may not be a car person but I really really love hearing about other peoples interests and passions - our differences are what make the planet so rich and diverse and interesting - so how about a post on your blog about your Subaru - perhaps a photograph of you doing a nice big burnout????

Kathryn said...

You're a very busy man, always up to something and enjoying yourself. No wonder you have that big smile on your face!

Mr. Kinder said...

I know that feeling about wondering if I'd survive at the wheel of a WRX. So far, so good.

Right after I bought the WRX, my wife and kids had a bet among themselves about when I'd get my first speeding ticket. They wouldn't tell me the terms of their bet, but whoever was betting on my discretion would have won the bet: no speeding tickets.

Maybe I'd do a post on it someday.

Katherine said...

A fine figure of a sailor man.