It’s Tough out there on the
is a part of the history, of a boy called Mike
is the fourth of these storys and any of you who may have read the
remember, seventeen yr old Mike in 1950, while walking along the
wharf at Port Chalmers, got chatting to the captain of a big deep sea
trawler ‘ The Taiora,’ & was offered a job on her.
couldn’t believe his luck, & with just enough time to wisk home
to get some gear, it was off to sea we go.
hard old Scottish seadog of a Captian, Jock Black , salted of the
coast of Aberdeen in the North Sea,took a shine to young Mike, as he
was a good worker & keen to learn, even beyond the scope of the
job. A deckhand was just a labourer really, but Mike was a bit more
ambitious than that.
no time Jock had taught him to mend nets, splice hemp & wire
ropes, & even a bit of navigation, and eventually offered him
mates job. Mike declined this as he didn’t want to get stuck in
this one job
navigation stood him in good stead as, four yrs later,when he &
The Captain had come ashore, and were both living in Dunedin, Mike
used to go to Jack’s house at nights to learn navigation.
might wonder why, having left the sea, but salt was still in young
Mike’s veins and having saved up 2000 pounds, he had decided to
have his own fishing boat.
were very expensive built in NZ, approx 12000 pounds for a 50 footer,
but in Britain he could buy a beamy sixty footer for 3000 pounds.
idea was, to buy one there, & sail her back here.
his many nights with his navigation books, globe of the world,
Jock’s sexton, with his head down studying..
weren’t the polytech courses those days.
a while Mike started to think about this.
years fishing & income,would be lost in the time it would take
him to get the boat home & fishing, and it was all about these
newfound cray fishing beds on the West Coast..
the crays were so thick then, ‘The Taiora’ ,really there as
mother ship, one day for a lark , dropped the trawl in Jackson’s
Bay for half an hour and filled 24 large coal sacks of them.
was just crays crawling across the sand from one reef to another.
fish stocks like that today.
needed to get going sooner
knew he could get a boat built in Tasmania for a lot less than in NZ.
A bit rougher, not the finish, but every bit as good.
Australians, he thought!.
& Tunnage built beautifully finished boats in Port Chalmers,
Mike could not afford this.
working again with The Captain, they had a boat designed.
was a 52 footer, triple skin, counter stern, with a 7 ton freezer. It
was the freezer space that was important, esp, as he would be
steaming all the way between Jackson’s Bay & Pt Chalmers
the boat builders in Hobart were waiting for the OK to start, &
all the plans of Mice & Men that often come to nought“
met the lady who was to become his wife.
Fleur was an excellent swimmer, & Mike, not good at all!
used to tease him saying “a fisherman who can’t swim! “ ( turns
out most couldn’t )
with her discouragement, & Mike starting to think, being
to a beautiful young lady, with him away at sea most of the time,
didn’t seem such a good idea.
then was the end of Mike’s sea saga, & he bought a little farm
on the slopes of Mt Cargill, got married, & lived happily ever
after.-------------- & still is!!
great old ( well he was only 57 ) friend The Captain, died in his
sleep in a Balclutha, Hotel, having, the day before, supervised
floating one of the company’s fishing boats off the rocks at Kaka
lost a friend he had envisaged having for life.
looks back on that time in his life with affection.