The Moana Mutiny
Today on ww we have a great yarn from Ian McDonald , the yarn was sparked off when Ian came across an older ww story on the launch Moana, which took him back to 1968/69 when he spent a season on her out of Tauranga, dropper lining for Puka. Ian also took the above (recent) photo of Moana.
I’ll let Ian tell the story
“During my time on Moana she was owned by a retired Waikato cocky from Morrinsville [I think] and used for game fishing. During the off-season she was stripped out of the nice squabs & carpet interior-wise for the hapuka season, roughly from after Easter through to almost Labour weekend.
Jack Phillips was the skipper and we regularly fished in proximity to two other Tauranga boats skippered by real characters of the local boating fraternity, Goldie Hitchings on Luana and, Ces Jack on Abalone, both terrific seamen and fishsermen [and it must have been a very nasty sea that overtook Goldie a few yrs later off East Cape, when he was bringing his new boat up from Gisborne, they only ever found an hatch cover I was told] ……… bear with me here, I’m getting to the mutiny part 🙂
Moana then, had a ‘Tauranga board’ out over the transom [with game chair fitting] and railings right around it from which we launched the Puka / marker buoys & flags droppers line drums etc, and the hauling in was done from the forward, port side, of the cockpit using a Heath Robinson [but effective] winch arrangement powered by a Briggs & Stratton engine with an AJS motorcycle gearbox attached. From memory we got 50c per kg for Puka, Bass & Bluenose and, any bass over 50Kg, had to have the heads cut off, for which purpose Jack carried a butcher’s cleaver. One day we hauled in a very big Ling which, when unhooked, proceeded to writhe around the cockpit floor and, as I tried to kick it away, latched onto my gumboot with enough bite that I couldn’t get my foot out of it. Jack seized the aforementioned cleaver and starts taking wild swings at the Ling just behind its head, all of this with a rolling boat, a slippery fish and me trying to avoid the cleaver with Jack yelling at me . . . “stay bloody still boy”. I still have my leg intact .
As the ‘deckie’ I was on 20% of the catch which could be ‘chicken one day & feathers the next’ but could often result in me being paid $300 to $400 for a good trip, usually of 3 to 4 days duration. Most of my mates were on about $40 to $50 a week in those days [except the wharfie’s of course].
We generally fished the 90 fathom line, as it was known, which could be from south east of the Barrier and down towards East Cape. We were once close to the Volkner Rocks and the Airforce sent out an Iroquios to tell us to bugger off because they wanted to carry out a live bombing exercise.
But when we were based at Mayor Island the Mona’s owner [called Stuart, I seem to remember] and his drunken little mate Percy, would often come aboard for those few days and, to ‘sustain’ them would bring flagons of sherry and crates of beer, sometimes mixing the horrible stuff 50/50 and, did they get p*ss*d ? OH YES they did. On those Mayor trips we always returned to Sou-East bay in the evenings and I’d get shouted a feed ashore plus the odd beer by Jack, Stu & Percy. Usually I’d get a dinghy ride with someone back to the boat and get my head down, while the old fellas increased the game club’s bar takings by quantum amounts.
Unfortunately Jack liked whiskey [by the bottle] which, even more unfortunately, served to give him ‘cancer of the personality’ and, on one occasion, on a rainy night, I said that I was off back to the boat and was told to take the dinghy as the three of them would get someone else to bring them back later.
Much, much later I was rudely awoken by a very drunk skipper demanding to know why I hadn’t heard them all hollering from the beach [turns out they had outlasted all the others in the bar and eventually had to steal a small dinghy to get back to the boat]. Jack was a big powerful brute of a bloke and grabbed me by my t-shirt front & was about to haul me out of my bunk [port-side forward] and whack me, egged on by drunken wee Percy. I sat up, stuck both my feet on his chest and heaved him away – booffa – backwards across the cabin where he whacked his head on the top bunk & folded into the bottom one. Did I scarper ? bloody hell, did I ever, clad in an old pair of footy shorts and a t-shirt, up the steps into the main saloon, put a fend on old Percy who had decided to grab me, and hopped with alacrity up onto the Tauranga board, and stood quickly on the outside of the rail. Jack emerges from the saloon shouting blue bloody murder and refuses to see why I had shoved him having been suddenly, rudely and forcibly awoken and threatened. Earlier that evening I had had a few beers in the bar with an old Mount Surf Club mate, Barry Magee, who was out there in his launch Artina with a couple of mates so, after a Mexican stand-off for several minutes, with Jack refusing to be mollified AT ALL, [he apparently had one hell of a lump on the back of his head I was later told], I took the only available option and leapt in the drink and swam over to Barry & the boys on Artina, who were more than a bit surprised when I un-zipped the covers and stepped in wringing wet. Having been supplied with a dry pair of footy shorts and an old footy jersey, I told them what had happened and, then had to spend the next 10 minutes trying to stop them all going over to Moana and giving Jack a hiding. They only stopped when I told them about the .22 semi-auto he had for shooting the mollyhawks that used to pick off our “floaters” when they came off the hooks.
The next morning Jack backed Moana up to us and offered to let bygones be bygones but, knowing his moods when drunk, and that I’d got the better of him, I politely said no – well, maybe not politely.
I picked up my gear from Moana a couple of days later back in Tauranga [with a couple of mates from the Mount footy club for back-up] and got my pay”.
Footnote: Moana was later moored in Whakatane for a few years and owned by either McKenzie, or Ridley, of the eponymous boiler-making company of Edgecumbe & Kawerau. She also didn’t have the State House on top when I fished on her.
I subsequently came across both Ces Jack and Goldie Hitchings who both said that they were surprised that I had lasted a whole season [well, almost] with Jack and that, in the fishermen’s drinking sessions in the old St Amand Hotel, Jack had never mentioned the episode – funny that.
(note: Jack, Stuart & Percy mentioned above are all long deceased)