Okay, not lobstah. Crayfish. And not that big compared to what my Maine neighbors haul on a daily basis, but basically monsters in the South Pacific. Just when Brian thought we were done with New Zealand…
We met some incredible Kiwis!
Since we’d arrived at North Minerva Reef the wind had been blowing 20 knots or more, making dinghy expeditions not that fun in the choppy lagoon. We paddled the SUPs around, did some snorkeling, and walked on the reef when it was exposed at low tide. Overall, we were enjoying the quiet and the strangeness of a place that made us feel like we were anchored in the middle of the ocean.
A big blow came through and three other boats entered the lagoon, seeking refuge as the wind clocked up into the 30s and made its way around the compass. The sailboat beside us dragged anchor in the middle of the night and a dinghy went missing from one of the fishing boats anchored on the north end, but the Clara Katherine weathered the storm without any issues.
A couple of days later, things were more settled than they had been during the previous week, so we piled into the dinghy and ventured to the south end of the reef, poking along in the shallows admiring the colors, watching the fish darting away from our wake.
“Should we go say ‘hi’ to those fishing boats?” Brian asked.
I shrugged, “Why not?” It was almost dark, but we cruised over to the two fishing boats that were rafted together to see who was aboard.
This was aboard: a bunch of crazy divers who’d just stuffed their dinghy so full of crayfish it was barely afloat. They leaned over and pulled us aboard, handed us each a cold Steinlager, and wound up their reel of fish stories. Cascade and Morning Glory were both fully kitted boats for charter, on passage from Tauranga – (our last NZ home, so we had that to talk about) – to Tonga, where they fish for hire during the winter season. The owner invited all his best buddies to help him deliver the boat . They’ve been doing this trip for several years and always side-trip to one or both Minerva Reefs to take advantage of the out-of-this-world fishing and diving.
“South end is where you get the biggest crays,” Charlie, one of the crew, told us as he handed us a couple to take home. They also gave us enough fresh tuna and wahoo to bust the fridge at its seams. We hung out for a while, swapping stories and swigging Steinlagers until the sun went down and we could barely see the Clara Katherine.
We would have loved to stay longer and hunt crayfish, but it took us two days to eat just one of these bugs, and the other completely maxed out the fridge space. Besides, the forecast called for weather favorable for our next short leg to Tonga, so it was time to go.