Friday, March 27, 2015

Fantastic Fantail Bay

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I know….another boring sunset shot!
So I am still here at Fantail Bay and will be here through to the end of April when I move up to Port Jackson until the end of September. This is all on a month by month basis in case I don’t like it or they don’t like me! But so far the feedback has been fantastic not only about the camp host but about how great a little campsite it is. So I am chuffed that I have found a little niche that suits me and I suit it.
So we have been doing all sorts of bits and pieces while here. I had to do a mad dash into Auckland the other week to deliver a seminar and took some time to visit FCO (Fishing, Camping, Outdoors) which is closing down and I managed to spend a little money on a new solar shower as the old one which was passed down from Brenda and Roger finally decided to give up the ghost at the handle from which it hangs. So while I was there they also had a nice little 12v shower system on very good special so that went into my basket as well as a fish finder and battery! I also managed to pick up a very good little 12v battery charger and it all seems to work after a bit of sorting out faulty cigarette lighter connectors. So now people know it is me in the shower due to the little motor. It gives me a great shower, I empty the solar shower into the bucket and off I go!
Also the install of the fish finder was a bit of a mission, but finally got the kit and managed to successfully fit it.
I have hung the battery inside the hull until I can get somewhere and make a battery holder for it. Works well until there is a large swell and the battery thumps the side!
It is fun to now see what I am paddling over and to see the huge drop off that is just off the bay.
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Bread making the other day and instead of making loaves to go with the fishes I made buns and that went really well. Managed to make 8 very nice buns. Easier to freeze and keep and don’t end up eating half a loaf of yummmmmy bread for lunch or afternoon tea.
Have finally said farewell to one of the long term ‘residents’ of Fantail Bay. John from Taupo headed off this morning in his lovely old green 1968 Bedford bus towing his 4wd van. He has been a wonderful addition to the camp and his stories are amazing. He has written two books, one about his trip from London to Africa on the safari from hell and the other about his life farming sheep, cows and then goats. Both wonderful reads and I recommend them if you can find them. His name is John Mather and most libraries have copies of “Bitten by Africa” and “Two Kiwis and their Motorhome”. I will miss him and his ‘happy hour’ stories, but he is off home to Taupo.
So life is quietening down here at Fantail Bay as the summer departs and Autumn starts to chill things down. Tonight we have one motorhome, one tent and one van and me in the camp so very quiet, but we are now in the lead up to the Easter weekend so anything can happen.
We have had some more amazing sunsets….
Have spent two days now working with my boss Karl and the camp manager Tim from Fletcher Bay in re-routing the water supply for the camp after it got a bit damaged last week with Cyclone Pam as she passed. So we have hauled the pipe down from the hill and re-run it on a better gradient, put the end back into the water (doesn't work well when it is sitting halfway up the bank about 4 metres from the water!) and after two fills of the tank with the fire pump we now have our water supply back only 12 days after it was damaged!
I am pretty knackered after lugging huge 50m lengths of pipe through the bush so an early night for me and hope to get out tomorrow for some fishing before the next load of foul weather arrives. Have been out a couple of time but not been very successful but hope things might change, but everyone is in a bit of the same boat with the fishing, some days it is on and the next nothing. The sea has been very dirty but full of krill so we have huge numbers of terns feeding and the kawhai have been running but everyone is very well fed and not taking bait either live or soft. Still there has been enough caught to keep us all in fish at least one meal a day for the couple of weeks or so.
Enjoying a few quiet days of weeding the garden dividers here,
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and making the most of the peace and quiet.
Safe travels to you all!

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Sunset Diary

Over the past few days here at Fantail Bay the evenings have been quite spectacular. So here is a visual diary of them….

Saturday 21 February

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Sunday 22 February

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Tuesday 24 February

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Wednesday 25 February

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Thursday 26 February

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Saturday 28 February

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Sunday 1 March

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Monday 2 March

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and I will add some more when they arrive!

I am going to have a bit of a woohoo moment so just allow me my moment please. I am so stoked at the positive comments as campers leave the campsite. They are all happy and say that it is a lovely campsite with a great manager and the whole tone of the place is great and friendly and it look clean and tidy and very park-like. So it appears that I am doing a good job and tourists and locals alike are leaving with great memories of Fantail Bay 2015.

I have had a large number of foreign tourists, not all young Germans or French on their gap year, but some older ones as well including a lovely couple from Sweden who managed to arrive just in time to participate in a morning tea of smoked snapper that had been caught that morning by a lovely Polish camper who had caught his limit and was handing then out around the camp. So I offered to smoke some fillets. We were joined by a pair of Australians and had some lovely lightly fried fish bites delivered as well. So they all had a lovely nibble on really fresh fish.

Then as evening fell we managed to see a possum on the edge of the campsite and they took lots of photos of the “cute, cuddly thing”. Until they saw the claws….

Then in the morning as a tent was coming down a weta was found on the side of the tent and more photos were taken.

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The the kereru started performing so they had that as well. So huge smiles all round as they left for Auckland and started their journey home back to Sweden and the cold climate there.

I also have a young German couple who are travelling alongside a motorhome couple and we have some great fun teasing him about the fishing and lack of crayfish when he goes diving and last night he was out on the point trying to catch a fish that was “This big”…..

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but it wasn’t to be yet again, but the fishing calendar had February and early March as not too good for catching fish but improving over the next week or so.

BUT I have to say that my effort the other day was quite spectacular. I was drifting across the bay just south of Fantail Bay and was having very little in the way of bites and suddenly the rod was bent over and it was all on for young and old! I had a sea anchor out and two rods in the water so it was a bit of a handful getting the sea anchor in and then the second rod while trying to keep what ever was on the line from tearing away and hiding in the rocks. So after a number of reel in til almost visible then huge run again I managed to get it to the surface. A huge trevally that eventually measured in at 68cm. It took around 15 mins to get him on board and I am still buzzing. A great tussle and the larges fish I have ever caught.

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So half of it was smoked for “Happy Hour” that afternoon and then a half of the remaining fillet was turned into Thai green curry for my dinner and the last half fillet is in the freezer.

An interesting aside and a little tale of helping ones fellow man. One of the campers here John is a regular here and we were chatting away and I noticed his Quarter Acre Pot so I asked him how it was. He said that he was thoroughly enjoying it and that it worked well, until the pot split! “Huh?” and he pulled out the pot and sure enough the actual sides of the pot had split.

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I could not believe it but yes the pot had split around half of the circumference. It really did look like stress from the manufacturing process. Anyway John said that he had tried ringing the numbers but the message had said “emergencies only” and he was hesitant to call this an emergency. So I asked him if he would like me to try to contact them via email and try to sort something out for him. So with his permission,  I emailed them and explained the situation. Within an hour I had a response apologising for the fault, it was known to them and was a faulty batch of steel at the manufacturing end of things. What was his address and we will send out a replacement. Now that is certainly the way to treat customers who have faulty goods. Didn’t even want to see the photos or ask for the pot to be returned, just “Our fault, where do we send the replacement!”

Well done Quarter Acre Pots!

So campers come and go, sometimes a night sometimes more but its a great flow of people and I am thoroughly enjoying it. A little bit of lawn mowing each day keeping the place looking good and as a camper leaves, I will mow their patch ready for the next. Very stressful lifestyle!

Safe travels everyone!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fantail Bay Update

So here I am as Camp Host at Fantail Bay on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsular. It is a popular spot with motorhomers and campers and is beautiful, quiet and a great fishing spot.

So far I have managed to catch a lovely kawhai which we smoked and had in a lovely white sauce with fresh parsley.

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We being my sister Brenda and husband Roger who have been here for over a week. They leave on Tuesday after their two weeks is up.

There have been the most amazing sunsets here as well.

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and

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and

So today is Wednesday Feb 25th! Where has the year gone already. Today is washing day and so the bed linen and washing has been done and is hanging up…

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There is not a cloud in the sky and already the temperature is soaring!

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So a bit of lawn mowing again today and then swimming and fishing on the menu!

It has quietened down with only 5 other camp groups in on more than an overnight basis. So it has been a very easy job and I have managed to get a great deal of the campsite mown as people leave and I can mow their patch!

Before I close off, a little tip for those of you with side lockers with catches that jam if the contents shift and block the movemet. Glue a little rubber buffer onto the inside to protect the catch and you will not have issues. (Tip from a camper)

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Safe travels everyone.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What A Difference A Day Makes….

How quickly one can go from….

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to this….

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and be over 200km from where you started the day…..

So let me back the bus up a bit and explain.

On Sunday I had word from someone that the Dept. of Conservation were looking for Camp Manager at Fantail Bay at the top of the Coromandel Peninsular. Now this is a position that I have been after for some time as it is a beautiful little site.  So after a couple of days playing phone tag I finally connected with Karl from DoC and he asked when I could start! So after talking to Sue and Bruce from Shakespear Regional Park and getting their OK to leave them in the lurch, I quickly packed up and headed south, stopping to dump my waste tanks, fill my fresh water tanks, diesel tank and pantry and headed off to Coromandel Town where I stayed the night at a lovely parking spot opposite the Police Station and  caught up with two lovely ladies that I had met at Mangakino last year. This morning I had a meeting with Karl from DoC and we went through the formalities and sorted out what he was going to pay me and then I headed north to Fantail Bay.

So here I am, having been instructed in my duties, which this time include mowing duties, met with the locals for happy hour and caught up with my sister Brenda and her husband Roger as they were here as well.

Fantail Bay is a lovely spot with a smallish camp ground with around 24 sites and can carry around 100 people or so. There are the normal toilets and showers to clean and keep tidy but not that onerous.

If this goes well it is possible that I could be moving from here up to Port Jackson to winter over there for DoC as well but ore to come on that later.

It really is quite amazing how quickly things can change and I will do a wrap up of Shakespear Park and the volunteer work that took place there next update.

So safe travels everyone!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Next Excitement!

It was pointed out to me by Bernice today that I had not posted for a while and so after checking I  must say that she was right and time does get away from you when you put things off ‘til tomorrow’.

So it is now been all officially sorted and I have taken over from Bernice and Roy Vannini as Camp Hosts at the Auckland Council Shakespear Regional Park. It is a lovely campsite nestled in a valley at the very end of the Whangaparoa Peninsular. Roy and Bernice have been here since the beginning of November and are looking to move on. Ranger Bruce asked if I would stay on til April 5th so it looks like I will be settling in for a while.

There is not a great deal to the job, I essentially am the eyes and ears for the rangers and greet the campers, tick them off the list, mark them onto the map and tell them about the park and the facilities. If anything goes not according to plan I ring the duty ranger who comes down and sorts it out! Easy peasy.

Have been kayak fishing and caught almost my limit of fish but due to the fact that they were all too short and wouldn’t stretch far enough, they had to go back!

Also I’ve had the MiniCat out and had a bit of a sail around the bay and back a few times yesterday and it was great! Just on the tail end of the windy weather, not in the midst of it all! The waves were interesting as there were some rather large ones out there but we managed well and had a load of fun.

This morning Summer Ranger Michael and I went for a walk together. It was meant to be the Sunday morning guided ranger walk but I was the only one to turn up so it became an adventure! We went over to Pink Beach and had a nosey down there. The tide was a bit far in so we couldn’t get too far around the beach at all, but he pointed out the degaussing cables from the old naval station.

From there we walked to the top via a trapping/tracking track, a bit of a bushwack but a great little trip.

At the top Michael was teaching me how to create a whistle from a waxy leaf

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It was a great 2 1/2 hour wander around the regional park with some great information from Mike about birds, plants and we had a great morning tea eating the new tips of the supplejack vine. Was delicious!

We ended up down at the waterfall (not a great deal of water but did spot a long finned eel and then wandered our way back to the campsite.

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So after a full night last night of 160 we are down to about 10 tonight!

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A bit of an overcast but still warm day today with little breeze. Ranger Bruce has just dropped of a couple of snapper to Bernice and Roy and they have brought over a fillet for me, so will do something with it for dinner tonight!

Now that was written a few days ago and I have been here for two weeks, had a side trip to Wellington for a day and now I have been evicted to the self-contained area as there is a huge school group in and they don’t need or want a camp host there. So I am out in the wilderness with nothing to do for a week, so I will go pester Bruce for some jobs to do around the park. I have joined 5 other vehicles in the SC area so it is very quiet.

The main carpark and picnic area if full today (Sunday) and it is a lovely day and loads of families and groups playing, swimming and having bbq’s all over the area.

This morning there was a volunteer day and we removed an old 7 strand wire fence and weeded out some Mexican Devil Weed from the same area.

At the end of the morning we were all covered in biddybids and I am not sure that my socks will ever be the same again….

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We all had a bit of a laugh at Michael’s shirt…

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The other day there was an interesting breeze blowing and I watched a paraglider who just hung off the end of the hill for hours….

So I am sitting here contemplating the rest of the year and wondering what it will bring and whether I turn left or right but certainly enjoying the moment.

Safe travels everyone.