Friday, May 23, 2008

The Pastor's Ass...

The pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won. The pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again, and it won again.
The local paper read:

The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the pastor not to enter the donkey in another race.

The next day, the local paper headline read:

This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the pastor to get rid of the donkey.

The pastor decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent. The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day:

The bishop fainted. He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10.

The next day the paper read:

This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run wild.
The next day the headlines read:

The bishop was buried the next day.

The moral of the story is . . . being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief and misery . . even shorten your life. So be yourself and enjoy life. Stop worrying about everyone else's ass (donkey) and you'll be a lot happier and live longer!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Proudly SA - Quote of the Week

"The latest market research found that 90% of the population in Southern Africa work in the iron and steel industry. Some of them iron but most of them steal."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Which would you rather be driving?

My host in Saudi Dryland, "CC", was involved in a "bumper bashing" the other day and sent me these pics.

The Saudi drivers are terrible at keeping to the rules of the road and, according to CC, the Suburban came out of a side street and didn't even look, let alone stop. Needless to say CC didn't have time to stop...luckily for him, the car is a rental.

Luckily too, CC is unharmed...

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Let me tell you when I've posted something...

by just clicking on the RSS Feed button to the right.

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More Thoughts on...

The South African Parks Board.

...or more precisely, the Department of Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) as they are known these days.

A little more than a year ago, the MCM instituted a Fishing Permit system, where all anglers had to have a fishing licence to enable them to throw pieces of fish into the sea to enable them to catch bigger fish.

Naturally, it was met with scepticism and, in some circles, ridicule and anger. Anglers are people too and know how inept the government has been to date with regards to such means of policing. And, of course, it was seen as another money-spinning (pardon the fishing reference) scheme by a government who have thought up just about every other way to tax its people. We're all too aware of how money seems to disappear when it gets to the government, but if the money was to be used on actual conservation and not just paying Marthinus "Kortbroek" Van Schalkwyk's over-inflated salary, it may not be too hard to accept.

If I remember correctly, my latest licence cost around R60 for the year. If you're fishing every other weekend, it's not too bad, but us inland anglers find it a little hard to swallow seeing as we aren't able to fish as regularly.

Now, the reason I bring out these thoughts, was because we saw one of the aforementioned MCM members checking for licences last Saturday morning. It was around 7am in the morning and there were only about a dozen anglers on the stretch of beach that we could see. The "man" checked everyone and even had a couple of guys scurrying home for the licences while he looked after their tackle, just in case they didn't come back. We also heard later that he had a couple of guys, who didn't have licences, appear in court to face a fine of R200 each, as well as having their tackle confiscated (I wonder where that'll end up?).

Now what's wrong with all that, I hear you ask? Actually, nothing. If I'm paying for my licence cos it's the lawful thing to do, then those that don't have licences should buy a licence or face the consequences.

What is wrong is that, just 100m further down the beach, were half a dozen "locals", black guys (some with tackle as good as mine, wonder where they got that?) that were catching and keeping very undersized fish, stripping mussels and octopus off the rocks...and the MCM guy did not even go down to that part of the beach. He turned around and went back the way he came.

I purposely sat between the man and the locals, to see if he would go that far down the beach and to make sure that he could actually see them from where he stopped...and he could so that is no reason for his inaction. Perhaps he knew that he would be intimidated, or worse attacked, by the locals (all anglers carry knives), I don't know.

I would put money on it that none of the locals had a licence, so, again the method of policing our shorelines is rendered ineffective. The locals have been known to strip a piece of beach clean over a very short period of time, booth here in SA and in Mozambique where some once pristine beaches are now under serious threat of long-term damage. In Kosi Bay recently, the local MCM guys knew that this would happen and to prove a point, reserved a piece of beach that only the locals were allowed to frequent and use to whatever means they want. What is apparent, is that a piece of beach cannot sustain a very large population or even, in the case of Kosi Bay, a very small population and most of the rocks and beach are stripped bare. There is also a higher than usual amount of pollution littering the reserved area.

So...there's a few problems to be addressed here...

(1) Local lack of concern for their environment - this is going to be a problem here for a long time to come. Locals have a shitty attitude towards things in general, and beach conservation is no different. If Kosi Bay is to be an example of the damage done to the environment, then education needs to be made available to locals around the country so that the problem doesn't become totally out of control, and methods to rejuvenate Kosi Bay need to be implemented too. Kosi Bay is a site known around the world for its breeding beaches for turtles.

(2) Lack of proper policing - MCM officials should not be wandering around the beaches on their own. They should be moving in pairs or more, which will allow a certain measure of safety in numbers and, if one of them gets into trouble, allow for backup to be called to resolve the situation. Also, MCM officials should police the entire stretch of beach under their jurisdiction, as it is no good if they only restrict their efforts to specific pieces of beach. Eventually the locals will get to know where the MCM stops policing the beaches and restrict their activities to those areas for a while. Once those areas are stripped bare, however, the locals will be up in arms pleading that they are subsistence fishermen and they aren't allowed to make a living. SORRY...this is not a reason...there is no such thing as a subsistence fisherman fishing from a beach...he would not catch enough to survive, and almost certainly has a job (even part time) to make money for other expenses.

(3) A proper licencing system - we have to get away from the punitive systems that are put in by inept government agencies who don't have a clue of what they're doing. Yes, have the current licencing system; it brings in revenue for the MCM. BUT...instead of just confiscating tackle and heading straight for the courts, give the MCM officials on the beaches a licence book (make it a different size or colour to the normal A4 licence). Allow the licence to be valid for only one day. Charge R50 for the licence (yes, it's expensive for one day, but the alternative is court and fine, and confiscation...way more expensive). If the offender can't pay the R50, then confiscate his tackle and get him to court to face the music.

These problems aren't difficult to overcome, we only need the MCM to listen to the public for constructive suggestions (like mine hopefully are) and we need the locals to start giving a damn before it's too late...

I'll be sending a note to the MCM with my comments and suggestions, but I won't be holding my breath to see if I even get a reply, let alone see some positive changes in the way they do things...

Monday, May 05, 2008

It's Decidedly Average to be back at work...

to coin a phrase used by the inimitable Billy Connolly, Scotland's comedy idol.

I say this as this is the first day back after having a week off, partly in thanks to our useless fuckin' government who decided to give the country three public holidays last week. I also say it, as it's, well, decidedly average to be at work...period.

So, what did I get up to in my time off, I hear you ask.

We had been planning to go to Hermanus but, as you all know, that fell flat due to the {insert spitting noise here) estate agent down there. Instead, taking a flyer, last Sunday afternoon I said to Steph "How do you fancy going down to my folks for a few days from Wednesday afternoon?". To which she said "Ok" and I proceeded to pack my fishing gear in anticipation. I'm sure she could see the joy in my face.

It's been four months since we last saw my folks, Christmas to be exact, so it was about time (diesel price notwithstanding) that we paid them a visit again. On top of that, there's no way my dad's going to come up to Gangsta's Paradise anyway, so it will always be up to us to go down there. In any case, I have a longing for the sea that will never go away so I go down to satisfy that lust too.

We left home on Wednesday afternoon, just after 1pm, right on time for a change. The road was reasonably quiet, except when we got to the Villiers Engen One-Stop and stopped for a cold drink. I was innocently looking through the fridges for something to quench my thirst, when I suddenly hear my name being called above the noise of the other thirsty people. Looking up, I see Fishman and family, sitting in a booth waiting for their lunch to be delivered. I knew they were going down to the North Coast that day too, but did not know what time they would be leaving. As it happens, coincidence had it that we were in the same place at the same time. After paying for the cold drinks and munchies, we said our hello's to the Fishmen family and bid them a safe trip to the coast.

Our drive was pretty uneventful, only having to endure a couple of idiots in their BMW's and some light fog down around Pietermaritburg, normal for the trip. We arrived at the folks around 8h30pm, just in time for the rain to piss down for a couple of hours. Never mind, it gave us time to have a couple of beers and catch up on the news. Once the rain lightened up a bit, we started unpacking the car leaving the fishing gear in a prime spot, ready to be plucked on my way out the door the following morning.

We woke around 8am on Thursday morning, and I headed for the front door to see what the weather and sea were like. Not bad, though the south west wind was blowing a little too hard for my liking. My brother and I decided to take a walk down to the shore to see what the conditions were like and it was just as well we did: they were perfect. On the spot, we decided to go down a couple of hours before high tide which was around 1pm. So we had time for breakfast and a cup of tea, as well as a short chillout chat on what fishing strategy we would be using.

After conning my mum out of a crayfish that we would be using as bait (she's very possessive about her bugs), I took both my rods down to the beach with me and first put out a bait of fresh octopus. With no bites on that, I changed tactic slightly and added a thin slice of crayfish. Within a couple of minutes, I landed a beautiful, 12-inch "Astronaut", better known as the 3-spot Queenfish.

I immediately set up my larger rod, hurled the 8oz grapnel sinker as far as I could, then sent the Astronaut out as a live bait, hoping for one of the early season Garrick my brother had said had been caught already.

After not even ten minutes, just after a sudden downpour of rain, I felt a sharp tug at my line and thought it strange for the Astronaut to pull so hard, so I instinctively set the drag and the ratchet on my reel and in the next instant my rod was pulled down and line started peeling off the reel, accompanied by the scream of the drag. I let out a loud "yeehaa" and my brother picked up on the excitement, also yelling. The rod was bending seaward and as I looked up, I saw what had taken the bait: a Blackfin Shark which, at that quick glance I estimated to be around 100kg. I know it was a Blackfin as they have a habit, once hooked, of launching themselves bodily out of the water while spinning around to try and dislodge the hook. I saw the animal jump twice, but later my brother said he saw it three times. The shark took two long runs, each about 50m, before throwing itself spinning out of the water. Just after the last jump, I felt my line go slack and first instincts told me that it had turned and was heading toward me, but a couple of seconds later I confirmed that it had actually broken the line. This is one of the primary reasons for these sharks jumping and spinning, to drop the hooks and snap the line tethering them to the unknown predator. It is quite spectacular to see a shark launch itself out of the water and even though my fight only lasted about thirty seconds, I was still excited about it that night as I went to sleep. As it was, the knot that I had made to attach the sinker to the main line had come away, so losing the fish was my fault rather than tackle failure. Needless to say, I have endeavoured to find out what knots I should be making in place of my old ones.

After the excitement, I sat down on the rocks and had a good long swig of my "pre-mix" (Capn's Organ and Coke) and chilled out for a few minutes. then, still buoyed by the excitement, I threw in my lighter bait again in the hope of catching another bait fish, but all I came up with was a Morey eel, the scourge of the KZN tropical waters.

We decided to call it a day at about 4pm as by that time the tide had dropped and it looked like it was going to piss down again. Needless to say, none of the family believed my brother and I and blamed the whole thing on a "fisherman's story".

That night, we had a barbecue in the rain with me turning the meat with one hand while the other held the umbrella. It still turned out to be a good braai though.

The weather on Friday wasn't conducive to good fishing (too strong winds and currents), so we ended up in the local pub (just Dad, brother and myself) while Mum and Steph went shopping. The rest of the day was peaceful with only the strong wind making any real noise for the rest of the day.

Saturday's weather wasn't much better than Friday's, but brother and I took a drive through to Port Shepstone to see what the waters there would be like. The surf was just as big as it was at home and the current was just as strong, so we watched a few anglers battling the elements for a while, then decided to take the drive home, stopping en route to see if we could find some other new spots to try one day. We found one particularly good spot, but due to the late time in the afternoon, we decided to leave it for another day.

Getting home, we found that Dad had just gone down to the pub about a half hour before we arrived, but decided to leave him to it and he arrived about an hour later, a few pints of the good brown stuff for the better.

On Sunday morning, I woke up just after 6am and woke Steph to tell her I think we should be getting going. As most of the "binnelanders" (inlanders) would be heading back that day, I felt it best that we should get an early start. Just as well too, going by traffic reports later. There was an estimated 2,500 cars an hour passing through the toll gates and on Monday morning Fishman phoned to say that they had left about an hour after we had and had got caught at one of the last gates, with traffic backed up for about 3km. We, on the other hand, had no such worries and passed through the toll gates quite quickly.

We had more torrential rain coming through the Drakensberg region, which is very unseasonal for SA. I thought it might turn to snow if the temperature dropped any further, but we only had the torrents to deal with.

On getting home at about 13h30, the dogs just about ate us up as they were obviously glad to see us and that we hadn't gone and left them to fend for themselves. And, no doubt, the big gay Doberman, Duke, was glad to be allowed back onto his warm bed in the house. The Shit Towne temperature has fallen quite a bit in the last couple of weeks, to the extent that we have started lighting a fire in the evening to warm the lounge area. It looks like it's going to be a long, cold, winter.

So...what did the rest of you get up to? Let us all know...