The Raglan Kook


The sun is just starting to peak out from behind the hills.  The water is much colder than I had anticipated.  My wetsuit is a few years old and cold water finds every available seam.  I don’t care because the water is emerald New Zealand green and I am enjoying the board that I shaped back home (with help from Mike at Flyline surfboards.)  Head hight waves are peeling cleanly down the point consistently with a crisp offshore breeze.  It is a beautiful morning and after 2 hours I run back to Solscape to get Nug, eat some breakfast, and pack our things.  I want to get another float in before continuing south so we head back down to Manu Bay.  The waves have turned to poo with an onshore breeze and are fat with the tide.  I am on a mission though so I run up the point and clamor over the rocks to the keyhole to jump off into the lineup to join the 10 or so surfers.  I am still pruny from my first session.  As I leap into the water I feel a tug on my foot.  The combo of barnacle encrusted rock and soggy skin led to me leaving a bit of my epidermis behind.  “Well that hurts but it’s not the end of the world I think.”  After 10 minutes or so a set comes through and everyone starts paddling for the outside.  The girl next to me lets out a shriek and turns straight around to paddle in.  “WTF was that I’m thinking as continue heading to the outside.”  Then I see it but only for a brief moment…a fin 2 feet high is in the wave and heading straight at all of us.  Shit!!!  I pull all my limbs away from the water as if it is boiling.  The fin disappears beneath the surface.  The Japanese guy next to me with dreads down to his belly button looks over at me, “Bruhhh, you see that shark.  It musta been 8 feet minimum.”  He has a painfully forced Kiwi accent.  I look at my back foot and see a crimson river headed down my ankle and calf until it diffuses into the water.  “Why am I such a kook!  How could I blow that jump into the water?!?!”  Now I have really done it!  It is a long couple of minutes (It may have been seconds but it felt like hours!)  as I wait for a wave to catch in and as my over active mind sees something in the water- everywhere I look.  The lineup clears out pretty quickly with the close encounter before l finally get one in.  We are sitting in the parking lot watching the waves, cleaning my foot and looking for signs of this creature when we see the fin again.  It starts jumping and sure enough it is every bit of 8 feet.  However, it is an orca or killer whale (Shamu) rather than a shark.  Either way I was happy to be back at the top of the food chain.

Video from that session and after.

Welcome to NZed


As we wait to clear New Zealand customs at Auckland International Airport, the clerks go through a shift change.  The large ginger (redhead) that relieves the official in our line has chops that look like flames jumping off of his cheeks.  We plunk down our passports and commence the small talk.  “Whee-are you’s two head’n?” he says.  “We aren’t quite sure yet, we are going to figure it out along the way”, I respond.  He counters, “Huh-ave you’s booked a room er hired a car?”  Nug chimes in, “Not yet, but we will when we get through customs.”  The orangutan jumps on his soapbox, “Do you’s ah-know what wee-ould happen tah me if I pulled thee-at maneuver in thee States?”  Ummmm….no…they always tell us “Welcome home” Nug says while I pinch her so she doesn’t say anything else.  It must have been a rhetorical question because he’s not listening at this point.   “They would puh-ut me on thee next flight back home.”  I see Nug starting to bubble up and I pray that I can keep a lid on my little freckled firecracker of a wife. “Have you’s buh-een to New Zealand before?”   We retort in unison, “Yes, and this is what we did last time!”  He thumps his chest for another 5 minutes before stamping our passports and letting us through.  We spend 15 minutes getting sorted and find a place off site of the airport that will rent a car for half the price of any car rental agency in the Auckland airport.  They pick us up and take us to their office which smells like my armpits if I neglected to shower or wear deodorant for a week.  We get a station wagon riddled with cigarette burns on the seats and as we soon find out (while driving on the highway of course) a thriving spider population.  One pops down in front of my face and I squeal like a 5 year girl while it flails around and Nug yells for me to stay on the road.  I’m able to fend off the attacker successfully as we navigate the Spider-mobile towards Raglan.

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