Travel map for noddytravel
Life according to noddytravel
china, laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Solomon islands, mauritious, Indonesia, usa
it never stops....
Read noddytravel's blog
Published 12:29 am, 4 May 2014
THAR BE A MUTINY CAP'N
STRANDED IN TONGA
Hmmmm a lot has transpired over the last couple of weeks, where to start?! We stayed in Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu and finally got all our immigration and customs sorted. Did the usual, shopping, jobs, cleaning etc and explored the town. My flew in on the 24th and we did a tour by taxi around half of the island, was pretty cool I guess, but it’s not really a tourist destination.We spent almost a week visiting the small islands around the area and whilst enjoyable, there were other issues on the yacht which detracted from the mood on board.. Cyclone My was back and stirring up all kinds of trouble, continuing her arguing with JP and anybody else who dared have a different opinion to her. It was incessant, regularly continuing for up to an hour over the smallest matters and simply degenerated the mood of everybody onboard. This was not the type of environment I wanted to be in, especially with the limited English, and I was ready to call it quits, all the evidence was mounting that these were not the right shipmates for me. She then proceeded to inform me that my sportfishing was not allowed as she believes it hurts the fish and they all die anyway, which is absolute crap. Ok, it probably does hurt, but I’m sure they would much rather a little pain and be let go again, than be bludgeoned with a bat or spiked in the brain. ‘We only kill something if we are going to eat it’, she claimed. I totally agree. If she felt so strongly about this, it probably would have been better to tell me before I gave up my travel plans in Vietnam, raced home to only briefly see family and friends, packed a huge amount of gear and flew myself to New Zealand to spend 2 weeks helping them get their boat ready. I was very clear on my intentions to fish every spare minute we had and couldn’t believe she was telling me this now after all the time, money and effort to join this boat. I nearly lost the plot when My pulled a barracuda out of the freezer and threw it away because it was a few weeks old (what happened to not killing unless you eat it), telling me ‘No worries, you can catch more ?! That is one of my biggest peeves, people who kill fish and don’t use them, plus she then had the nerve to tell me I could simply catch more, that I would be permitted to fish when it suited her! There were many other things that occurred which I won't bore you with, but I had made my mind up already and this just sealed the deal. I told them I would be getting off the boat and not continuing on with them. A shame as I loved the boat and JP really was a nice guy, but I wasn’t going to spend any more time in that environment, there is no point visiting exotic places and trying to have fantastic experiences with the wrong people. George and I actually did become more like mates through the ordeal of putting up with My together! In his defence, I don’t think he was trying to be an ass towards me during the voyage, I just feel he is not very socially aware. In fact, perhaps it is true what people say about the French being arrogant, it seemed that way, they were all very oblivious to other people and seemed to have this manner of entitlement. A quick example, George and I took the dinghy to a little island not far from the yacht. It was obviously a private island and they were building some bungalows, but we pulled up on the beach. (I wasn’t driving) I got talking to a foreign guy there and George wandered over while we were chatting and informed the bloke that he would be going for a walk around his island. I said ‘hang on a minute, how about you ask this guy first if it’s even ok’. Which it would have been anyway, I’m sure, but that sort of social respect and manners is just normal to me, and seemingly completely foreign to my French shipmates. The thought to ask permission was totally alien to him. Small example, but to me it was extremely rude to just assume you have the right to do whatever you want, wherever you want. These kind of faux pas’ were very common and I couldn’t imagine myself travelling with people like that when we were ashore. So to sum it up, George isn’t so bad, we just come from completely different worlds obviously and I try to be more aware of my surroundings and people. I actually got accepted into University about 12 years ago after sitting a STAT test (I left school at 14) to study Psychology, as I do take a keen interest in human behaviour. I never really did anything with it at the time, I was working over 50 hours a week and it was just not a course to be done by correspondence. So here I sit in Tonga at a guesthouse, I have a ticket booked to Fiji on Tuesday and will have a look around there for a while. Unsure how long I will stay, I am not really geared up to backpack around, I have a LOT of gear that I can hardly carry at once, plus it is all expensive. Undecided now about trying to find another yacht in Fiji or just having a short break and heading home. It was another awesome adventure, something I never dreamed I’d be doing a couple of years ago, it definitely felt like I was meant for that kind of life, I’ve always felt at peace on the ocean. I gave it a go, had an awesome time, loved every single minute of it but sad the crew weren’t the right fit for me. I’ll never forget it and as always, never regret it. I’ll be back on another yacht soon, just need to be more particular about who I go with, but sometimes you just never know until you go. Who knows where I’ll end up next… stay tuned!
Some sights around the island
Back at sea
A church, one of the nicest buildings in town, further proof that Jesus has plenty of money!
Holy crap.. Elvis IS alive and hiding out in Tonga!
Published 6:37 pm, 2 May 2014
WAHOO!! ... WE'RE IN TONGA
I am now sitting in a fancy restaurant in Tonga, using their wifi and having a beer. We arrived last night and have spent the WHOLE day navigating our way through the arrival process here, everything happening in ‘Pacific Time’. Fucking slowly! We still aren’t legal yet after 10 hours of trying, technically I’m not allowed to leave the boat.
It was another very easy, casual sail to get here. These guys reckon they have never seen weather this good for so long, though it has made the going a bit slower and we have had to use the motors more than JP would like. It took 3 days I think, with a quick stop atAta Island about 80 miles south of Tonga, where I once again slayed some fish, hell I even caught a bird!
Before Ata Island I also landed a solid Wahoo while trolling, he went like a demon, but was soon on the back step, my very uncomfortable filleting station, getting chopped up! George, as f*ing usual, comes over and without even knowing what fish it was, starts trying telling me how to fillet again!! Really George?!! Really?! You’re telling ME how to fillet again?! Haha
I don’t particularly like getting told too much as it is, let alone by somebody that knows fuck all! A few more little incidents that afternoon nearly saw violence on the yacht, that Wahoo wasn’t going to be the only one bleeding on the deck!
It was almost painful arriving in to Tonga, we were going so slow as we didn’t want to arrive until after sundown, it was hard to finally see our destination, be so close, yet know we would be hours away from getting in. As we got closer, I could see a huge cloud of smoke, and pointed it out to the others who were inside. ‘Wow, must be a big fire’ I said. Wellllllllll, what sort of response do you think that got?! George goes ‘Ah, well, it could be…’. With this look on his face that said, no, you’re wrong!
‘What do you mean – it could be??!!’ I said, ‘We’re 10 fucken miles out George, please enlighten me with your wisdom of what that is then’. He seriously goes ‘Ah, well, it could be a very small fire making a lot of smoke’. Surely I can’t be the only one ready to punch this guy?! Haha
Aaaah. As I said, it would almost be funny if I didn’t live with it every day, actually, I do kinda laugh about it more now, that somebody can seriously act like that. Anyway, I better head back to the boat soon, don’t want any trouble with the local constabulary.
Cool looking fish on plastic, this thing actually took drag off my Saltiga, which was fairly locked up for shallow water popping
JP took the bird pictures
See, I do some work out here
Please... feel free to tell me how to fillet...!!
Published 2:07 am, 30 Apr 2014
ANGRY FISH WITH BIG TEETH AT MINERVA, POPPER HEAVEN
I should probably just start a section every post entitled ‘Stupid Shit George Say’s and Does That Piss Me Off’! That same evening I last posted about, he went on to tell me that it was probably a good thing I let that Red Bass go, being so large it must have been too old and wouldn’t have tasted any good?!! Hmmm, ok mate, I suppose with that theory, a 15kg Red Emperor or a 7kg Baldie wouldn’t taste any good either!
This guy buys fish from the supermarket in Paris and would never have even tasted much quality fish, let alone know the difference between them. Which is fair enough, most people are in the same boat and wouldn’t really know the difference as they aren’t lucky enough to be able to eat the range of seafood we do back at home. But most people wouldn’t sit down, argue and try to impart their infinite wisdom, consisting of a good amount of fuck all, to somebody like me.
He just cracks me up, don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t claim to know everything about fish and fishing, but I do have an extremely vast knowledge as it is the one thing I have spent the most time doing, studying and trying to master. I am always reading, practising, progressing, if he could shut the f#@* up, he may actually learn something.
One last thing, the moon has been absolutely amazing out here, so last night I come inside and say ‘Hey, you guy’s should check out the awesome orange full moon’. So of course immediately George starts his usual bullshit ‘Ah, well, I don’t think it’s quite a full moon’, pokes his head outside for a second, ‘no, it’s definitely not a complete full moon’!!
F*@# me, this guy is a cock, it was the brightest roundest moon you are ever likely to see and he still has to disagree! I could tell him the sky was blue and he’d want to argue the point, ‘Ah, well, no it’s….
Never man enough to come outright and argue the point with me, and say ‘you’re wrong’. He prefers to just dismisses my point of view and makes his conflicting statement in a matter of fact way, with a pompous air of someone who has just enlightened everybody to the facts, like there could be no other answer and that the topic is now closed. I don’t even waste my time with a retort, some people are beyond help.
Everybody who knows me will tell you I am not a violent person in the slightest and rarely get angry about too much, I prefer to just go with the flow and lets the cards fall where they may. Karma is a bitch. But George is bringing it out in me, I wouldn’t even punch him, I’d slap him! That’s what he deserves, a good old ‘wake up to yourself’ slap!
In other non-George related news…!!! Yesterday was another epic day of fishing, out in the RIB for an hour or so, a few awesome fish landed, big strikes, dropped fish, amazing battles in the shallow reef. The stuff I dream about, Lucas and Stenty would have loved it, I think we may have to try to make it out here one day, with a proper boat and crew geared up for serious fishing. I am only just barely scraping the surface of the amazing fishing here at Minerva Reef, squeezing in an hour of casting here and there.
Over the short period I got to fish, I landed about 12 fish, with many follows, hits and dropped fish, there is nothing better than throwing poppers around in country like this. Even George and JP are starting to enjoy the whole visual style of it as they watch my lure, waiting for a big explosion of frothy water as a fish engulfs it.
Another huge Red Bass was landed, almost as big as my last one, but this time on my smaller outfit and in only a meter of nasty, reefy water, another of those fish I will never forget. (depending on how many I actually catch on this whole voyage!) Once again it was only me in the boat, nobody to witness and appreciate the unbelievable fishing here, I could never get tired of doing this.
So we are now moving around the inside of the lagoon at Minerva North and then we will be sailing on to Tonga this afternoon, with light winds it is expected to take 3 days. I am going to miss this place and hope I get to return someday, with Lucas, Stenty and any other of my fish-crazy mates, to do it properly, this has just been a taste. A damn good one though!
Afternoon update - we are now out of the lagoon and slowly making our way under sail to Tonga. Another epic afternoon of casting poppers over shallow reef and landing some awesome fish, the battles are intense.
As we made our way through the passage to exit the lagoon, I geared up ready with the big outfit, Saltiga Dogfight and PE8 Demon Blood, but made the mistake of using my lighter gear to throw a popper at a ledge on the way out, even knowing there should be some serious fish on it. Massive hit, my popper angrily inhaled in a powerful explosion of water and, almost as quickly as it had struck, I was busted off! Hmmm, kiss another lure goodbye! I was actually going to take a photo of this lure to emphasise how much punishment this thing had taken in only 3 days! It was nearly destroyed by angry fish with big teeth!
Oh, and we have 3 good sized crayfish for dinner!
Published 5:16 pm, 27 Apr 2014
MAGNIFICENT MINERVA ATOLL
A pretty awesome day of fishing today, but I will go back to what’s happened since the last entry. Early afternoon Monday we arrived at South Minerva Reef, a magical coral atoll in the pacific. After nearly a week of nothing but open ocean and depths of over 2 km, we arrived to a stunning reef and lagoon hundreds of miles from anywhere. It was almost bittersweet, cruising past all these amazing places to cast a lure at and knowing it probably won’t be happening. It was akin to taking your kid to Disneyland and then making him stand outside the gate all day! We sailed into the lagoon to set anchor for the night, a magnificent display of nature and water so crystal clear we could see the bottom easily in over 20 meters of water. But before entering the passage to the lagoon I was hooked up to a monster on the trolled lure, but due to some dubious driving and zero knowledge fishermen on board, another lure and great fish were lost. ‘sigh’, my all time favourite go-to lure! Not much else to report from this first atoll, we spent the afternoon and night there while I stared out like a lost child at all the awesome reefs I could be casting at! We continued North to the next atoll in the Minerva group, another amazing coral lagoon only 25 miles from the last one. The water and view were spectacular and we unloaded the RIB and went for a cruise to explore the now dry reef at low tide. Jean-Paul had a snorkel and found some lobster while I walked along this dry reef somewhere in the vast Pacific Ocean finally getting to have a cast! It was quite surreal really, standing on that ledge in the middle of nowhere, by myself casting a popper, another moment I’ll never forget in this strange world I call my everyday life now! It wasn’t long before I hooked up, using fairly light gear considering I was fishing in razor sharp coral bombie infested water only a meter deep. I landed him and it was the biggest Blue Spot Trevally I have ever seen, I didn’t even know they got that big! I was pumped and was soon hooked up to another solid fish, this one even bigger, big enough to straighten out my hook and get free! Never mind, while retrieving the lure after that one got away, still on the same cast, I was on again, this time a nice Coral Trout! Finally I was getting to do some real fishing and was basking in the strange yet awesome experience of walking along that dry reef ledge in the middle of the ocean. But the sun was nearly down and it was time to head back to the boat for a cold beer and dinner. Just as I sat down to eat a beautiful lobster dinner, I heard my reel zinging away, I had put a bait out earlier and had forgotten about it, thinking there wouldn’t be anything around that area. But it was a good sized snapper of some sort and after dinner he was soon cleaned and ready for the next night’s dinner. Later I went out to the back step for a smoke and looked up to notice there was a lunar eclipse happening! It was very cool and I really couldn’t picture anywhere better to have seen it from. The next morning, today actually, we went for a cruise in the RIB and I was having a cast over shallow reef while we slowly made our way. I was soon into a good fish on the popper and loving every minute of it, this is how I could spend the whole trip! I had 2 fish landed before the George and Jean-Paul had even had their snorkelling gear on and were in the water. I had another huge hookup but was busted off on that fish, damn, another lure. No, wait, I could see it from the boat, floating on the surface. Too easy, I just jumped in, swam over and got my lure back! The benefit of barbless hooks. I also landed another good trevally, it smashing my lure only 2 meters from the boat as Jean-Paul looked on in amazement! I could have done this all day but it was decided we would head over to the passage into the lagoon. While lunch was being prepared (we take it in turns each day to cook lunch and dinner) I was casting poppers of course, and after a few missed strikes and one little trevally, I had a huge hit and was on. I thought it looked like a shark when it hit so was a bit casual about it until I felt some serious headshakes, when it got nearer to the boat I saw it. Monster Red Bass!! I gave a hoot as it was an absolute thumper, my biggest yet and another personal best, I have been racking them up already. A couple of quick photos and I released him, to some strange looks from George & JP, to them fishing is nothing more than getting something to eat. I have too much respect for a fish as beautiful as this and would much rather see it swim off to be caught again by somebody that appreciates it. I only caught a couple of sharks after that, but JP came back to the boat with a fish he had speared. He’s cleaning it now as I type.
We are back inside the lagoon on the anchor after a pretty amazing day of fishing and exploring, think it’s time for a beer!
Fell for the old River to Sea Dumbell, a fave of mine for casting. That's the biggest size too
Pics don't do him justice, this thing was nearly a meter!
It's a tough life out here...
The water was pristine
Our home on the water
Lighthouse on the reef
Yeah, the weather was ok....
Check out how shallow and nasty that ground is
Minerva Atoll's from the air
Published 2:59 am, 23 Apr 2014
FISH ON... BLOODY HELL, IT'S A MAHI MAHI
3:30am and I am on watch, a solid wind has us sailing at around 8 knots and should see us hit Minerva reef today around 1-3pm. I shouldn’t say ‘hit’ actually, we should ‘arrive’! A couple of very eventful days at sea, I can’t really remember what happened Friday night, I think it was another calm one, but Saturday was a wild watch. Rough seas, constantly changing wind and a bit of rain saw me actually having to do some real work while on watch.
I spent the whole night on deck changing course, adjusting sails, getting wet and freezing my ass off, I did have a tiny little bird hitching a ride with us to keep me company though. He sat all night, buried in his own feathers in a little ball nestled a meter away from the helm. The seas stayed fairly rough most of the day and I actually got a couple hours of sleep in during the day.
During my afternoon watch the sea was still messy and I was about to bring my lure in, thinking that even if I did hook something, it was gonna be too wild to try land anything anyway. A mere 2 minutes later my reel was screaming, bent right over with the unmistakable signs of a solid fish and once again, the other 2 were sleeping!
A few bangs on the roof of Jean-Paul’s cabin and he was quickly on deck, followed by George not long after, with conditions like this we had to keep sailing and I just fought the beast while we were still cruising at over 6 knots! It probably only took me about 10-15 minutes to land but we finally got my first Mahi Mahi on board, a decent one weighing 11kg.
That is not a heavy fish really by my standards, but these things are thin, sleek and powerful, he was well over a meter. After getting bashed around on the back steps (my work station) I finally had him filleted and bagged up, we had meat again! After trying to instruct ME on filleting?! (wtf) George felt it necessary to go and weigh the fillets before once again telling me that ‘it’s not much for a fish that big’. I just asked him how many fish he has ever filleted… (yeah, 1) I’m guessing that at market value it was probably $300 of fillets.
While we’re on the subject of things he does to piss me off… hehe. After my long, cold, wet night of no food or barely a drink, he gets up in the morning, tips my cordial out and makes himself a coffee in the mug I hadn’t finished with?! Plus only boils enough water for 1 cup and I have to burn precious gas again to make a hot drink for myself. He’s been in a warm bed all night and HE needs the hot drink?! Just totally self absorbed and inconsiderate.
Once again, to the reader, yes these are small things, but living together like this and after a shift like that, it’s just not cool, you have to be more socially aware than that. I’m the type of person that would make somebody else the hot drink, knowing that they had had a shitty night and would really appreciate it.
I had to laugh though later in the day, he wound his handline in and the hook was gone, I quickly asked him if that was the same hook I had warned him not to use! Haha. Sorry I will try and keep to the story and not just pay out on George, but he brings it on himself, plus, hell, there isn’t much else going on out here, it is part of my daily life and my story.
As usual we have had odd jobs to do here and there, plus cooking and basic living really. On Sunday I had a shower and shave out on the back deck, the sea was beautifully calm, calm enough that I decided to put a lure out. We didn’t have room for any more fish in the limited fridge space on board, but I figured with conditions like this I could release a fish fairly easily.
I had just changed my lure over and was about to put one out when I looked down and saw what I believe was a small Marlin swimming not more than a meter off the back of the boat, I put my lure right past him but he declined after a quick inspection. It wouldn’t have looked natural as it was getting fed out, and after a minute or so he swam off, another opportunity missed!
Only a couple of hours later I was working up the front of the boat for a while and when I came back to the cockpit I could see my rod bent over. I hurried over for a look and every bit of line was gone from the spool!? F@#*! Luckily my knot at the spool was good and somehow had stayed connected, though it had caused some minor damage to the reel. A plug too, for the boys at Tel O Mac Tackle Shop, Nick had just re-spooled my reel and his join knot held up extremely well. Thanks mate, I would be missing 300 meters of 50lb braid otherwise.
There was so much pressure on the line that it had actually gouged a couple of grooves into the hardened plastic of my level wind. I couldn’t believe the line hadn’t come free. I wound ALL that line back in and found I had lost another fish and another lure. Goddammit, I thought somebody was in the cockpit while I was working up front. I’m just lucky that I didn’t lose all that line or worse, though I do have my rod and reel tied to the boat.
Anyway, I think that is all the news for now, plenty of beautiful night skies, sunsets, sunrises, full moon. Oh we did pass 2 bouys today which was odd really, this far out in open ocean and we happened to go past 2 of them about a mile apart, maybe some sort of weather beacons? In true testament to the effectiveness of FAD’s, there were fish around them.
Strange but cool cloud formation
Yee-Ha, PB Mahi Mahi
Cool rainbow while filleting
My stowaway mate for the night, cute little bugger