Thursday, June 25, 2009


hopefully the Mpame report will get you off my back now...LOL...

Make sure you tell the others about the report.
We need to go fishing/drinking/camping/drinking/drinking again...

Ok, so there's only Two's the second...

To start off, it is perhaps time to explain how Tabard got his nickname. Some of you may know Tabard, the liquid. It is a white, viscous, aromatic liquid smeared on the body to fend off the huge fuckin' mosquito's (see photo below) we get in SA. Anyway...around the second night, Damba gets woken up by some strange noises emanating from Tabard's bed. Rolling over, Damba vaguely, in the dark, sees some strange motions from under the covers and politely asks him what the fuck he's doing.

Quick (perhaps too quick) to respond, Tabard says he's rubbing on some of the cream cos the mozzies are chowing him. Damba, looking for clarification, asks why he's rubbing it on what appears to be his groin region. I think the less said about this story the better and we'll give Tabard the benefit of the doubt.

Jonny Bravo trying to make a point, also known as "pointing". A number of these intellectual conversations were held over the course of the trip. We even solved a number of global problems, but the recession came after the trip so we weren't able to help there.

I'm going to skip the Wednesday and most of Thursday, partly due to the fact that I can't actually remember what happened all that time ago, but also because not much did. We spent most of our days as follows: wake up early, go fishing, catch fuckall, go back to camp when it's too hot, eat ourselves stupid, drink ourselves clever again, do some more fishing, drink some more to get really clever and then go to bed only to repeat the same the following day.

But...on the Thursday, instead of doing a little night fishing, we decide on having an absolute fuckin' bender. As you can see by the photo, The Bulls Inn has a nice little pub area, complete with pool table and dart board. Damba showed us how to play a kewl new game, "Naai Jou Maatjie" (or for those of you out there who can't read code, "Fuck Yer Pal"). The game is a great laugh and consists of the following mechanics: throw a dart with your left hand at any number (me, I'm left handed so I threw with my right hand otherwise it wouldn't have been fair), that number is now "yours" and you have to throw 5 of them before you are "open" and can start to "screw yer pals", by throwing their number and cancelling out all their little crosses, then knocking them out of the game. If you got knocked out early, the only thing you could do while the game finished, which at some times took a while, was drink. And that meant we all had our turn at drinking. None of us were particularly good at darts, but we were all particularly good at drinking.

All I remember of the evening was when I started to sober up (sometime in the early hours) and someone said "let's go fishing". Yeah, fuckin' brilliant idea for something to do at 3am. Anyway, myself, Fishman and Jonny Bravo decide it might be worth it as the wind had dropped and we had a high tide to bring the fish on the bite.

This is what the dawn looked like...stunning, but a very rough sea.

We gathered up our gear, put on some warm clothing (windbreakers) and headed off along the beach. When we got to the rocks we noticed that the waves were washing up the beach quite far and we had to tread carefully through waist deep water and waves to get to the shelf where we were going to fish from. Aparently, I was telling the guys "Safety first, boys" all the way through, and repeatedly, so I was perhaps not as sober as I could/should have been. Anyway, we got through a little damp, found a great spot and started fishing, but again, no fish. After a while, just before dawn, Fishman decided he had had enough and was going to have a snooze. He must have been fuckin' freezing judging by the foetal position he's sleeping in.

This is Fishman just after dawn.

Here's Jonny Bravo doing what he does best...standing with a rod in his hand.

Needless to say, we were all pretty useless on the Friday after we got back to the lodge and ended up sleeping a couple of hours.

Damba and Tabard decided that they wouldn't mind doing some deep sea boat fishing that day, and the owner was only too happy to charter out his boat to them. Apparently the guys "fed the fish" a lot, so I'm glad I didn't go along even though I love boat fishing. We all had a good giggle when the owner and his "motley crew" battled to get the boat back onto the trailer when they came back. The spring tide had gone right out and the water was very shallow, which made getting the heavy boat onto the trailer very difficult. It must have taken them a good half hour to get it right as the crew didn't have a clue what they were up to. The owner was shouting and swearing at them in isiZulu (language of the Zulus) but he wasn;t getting through to them and ended up doing most of the work himself.

On the Saturday, we decided we were going to go and fish the area we had been a couple of days before, where Jonny Bravo and I had had our six hour long tussles. The water was nice and deep, with not much wave action and certainly looked like it might yield a fish or two. We could drive the bakkie right up to the water's edge, which was great for carrying loads of tackle.

This was where I caught the small sandshark I mentioned earlier. I know from experience that they are great baits for larger sharks and immediately put it out of its misery with a swift crack of its head on a rock, and much to the annoyance of Kallie, who is a vet and hates to see any form of harm coming to any form of animal. I could have slid it out live, but that would have meant it would have suffered, hence the reason I despatched it quickly.

The sliding of the sandie was a little more difficult than planned and it got stuck on a rock a few metres offshore, which meant that I had to get into the water and free the rig from the rocks. Jonny Bravo held the rod while I took my shirt off and went swimming. Fishman thought I was going to get fucked up on the rocks when he saw a wave wash over my head, but I'm an old surfer and know that the best way to get through a wave is under it, with the result that I popped up almost in the same place as I'd gone under, and without a mark on me. Needless to say, Murphy had a hand in freeing the rig and just before I got there, Jonny Bravo managed to get the bait back in the water again. Ah well, it was a refreshing swim.

The slide went out and I never saw the sandie again. Not that I had a hookup or anything, but rather the line stayed in the water for a couple of hours and then when we decided to head back to camp, I lost the rig as the sinker had got stuck between the rocks and the line broke. It would have been great to get a hookup as the Transkei is famous for its large sharks. Maybe next time...

While we were on the beach, some friends of Kallie's drove down form one of the inland towns and joined us for lunch and drinks. Kallie managed to get some crayfish for us from the locals and the lodge owner lavished them in garlic and butter. I then popped them on the braai for Kallie and her pal.

That night, as it was our last and the conditions were good again, Jonny Bravo, Tabard and myself decided we were going to give it "one last throw" and went back down to Mpame rocks in front of the lodge. We had a good many nice bites but the only one of us to get a fish was Tabard, who caught this large Shad. This was the fish that, afterward, he said had made his trip.

On the Sunday morning, we were up bright and early as we had to make our individual ways home. We packed all the fishing gear away in our bags, broke down the multi-piece rods and stashed everything in our bakkies, not looking forward to the long road ahead. At least Damba would accompany me in my car back to the main highway, so I had company part of the way.

As a tradition, the lodge owner asks each group to leave a cap signed by the entire team that was there. He then hangs it up on the roof of the pub with all the others. I bet he has some stories to tell...

Here were all are signing the cap.

It was also tradidtion that, if there was a woman in the team, that she had to leave her bikini top with the hat too, so Kallie had to leave hers...

After that, there was only time for a shower and a fresh t-shirt, a group photo and then back into the bakkies for the trip back.

From left to right: Scotty, Kallie, Jonny Bravo, Skoonie, Fishman, Tabard and Damba.
Even though it was a long distance to travel, we all had a great time and I'm sure we'll be there again sometime. Perhaps not next year, but definately at some point in the future. Hopefully next time will produce more fish though...

Here are some of the other photos we took...

Fishman and Scotty, making breakfast one morning.
Fishman thinking "what the fuck are you talking about?"
This trench is about 15m deep and the wave surge would almost fill it up.
Sitting around between fishing excursions
She did well, the Mazda-rati. I'm proud of her
Mpame Rocks....and so did we.
Mpame beach, with the lodge to the right. That hill took four-wheel drive, low range, to get up and down
This is how we all felt..."Woohoo"
The Transkei has amazing scenery
A Damba, otherwise known as a Blacktail

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The most spoken-about event of the last year...(Part 1 of about 400)...

finally took place a couple of months ago. Yes, I know this report is late, so get over it and enjoy the report.

The Kosi Fishing Team's annual excursion took place at Bulls Inn at Mpame, in the old Transkei, now the Eastern Province (yes, it's in the east, how original is that?). It is a beautiful piece of the world and this was expressed a number of times by the team over the week.

The team were all allocated nicknames during one of our darts sessions and comprised of: Scotty (me), Fishman (he of Papvreter fame), Jonny Bravo (BMW dealer, also known as Jannie Dapper in Afrikaans), Kallie (after Kallie Knoetze, the boxer, except that it was Fishman's sister-in-law and she got the name thanks to her brashness at times), Skoonie (short for Skoonpa, Fishman's father-in-law and father of Kallie), Damba (new on the team and named for the volumes of Blacktail - known in the Cape as Damba - that he caught) and, last but by no means least, Tabard (also new on the team and named for his distant heritage). Damba and Tabard made fine new additions to the team as you'll read further down.

For the first time, our trips began from different origins, for obvious reasons. Mine began from Cape Town and the others travelled in convoy from Shit Towne, Secunda (where Jonny Bravo lives) and Sabie (where Skoonie and Kallie live). I started my trip early, leaving home at 1pm on Monday 9th March, heading to Kuils River, which is on the way, to pick up some dry ice which I was going to use to keep the bait frozen. The rest of them left a good deal later, that night.

Ice in cooler box, I hit the highway, not really looking forward to the distance which, as it turns out was 2,876km there and back. It's amazing what a guy will do for a fishing trip with his buds, though next year I might think twice about driving that distance on my own. Hopefully, I'll be able to take a couple of the Capetonian anglers with me as there are a couple of really good guys down here.

I drove straight through to Knysna where I stopped for a bit of dinner, entering the spirit of fishing with a fish supper at one of the take away joints in the quaint little town. Satisfied, I filled up the bakkie and drove through to King Williams Town, by now in the dark and thankful for my spotlights. Thoroughly tired, I tried to find somewhere safe to stop and grab a few hours sleep but all I could manage was a dark spot next to a petrol station and two hours fitful rest. I didn't completely trust the area and the canopy on the bakkie isn't the most difficult thing to break into. Later, I found out that if I'd driven a couple more km's I could have stopped at a better spot and maybe slept better too. Ah well, if there's a next time...

I grabbed a cup of horrible coffee at the station cafe and hit the road again, gee'd up cos the last leg of the trip was underway. The rest of the drive to Umtata, capital of the old Transkei homeland, was uneventful and I pulled up there at around 9am, expecting the rest of the team to be along soon. Not so...Kallie phoned me to say that they were stuck at some roadworks which was going nowhere fast and it was almost two hours later that they arrived at the Ultra City. I kept myself amused by having an oily breakfast and sat watching people from the comfort of my front seat. It was here that I noticed the interesting tailgate on the bakkie in front of me.

When the rest of the team arrived, sometime around 11am, we said our hello's, filled up the fuel tanks (or at least, Fishman did, cos his new engine drinks petrol like he drinks Capn's Organ - very heavy indeed) and headed out onto the highway for what was going to be an interesting last section. Firstly, we had to head 14km back along the highway I'd travelled along earlier as the turnoff to Mpame was back the way I'd come and the map we had was very misleading and obviously not to scale.

The little piece of tarred road was in poor condition and, at times, felt like we were driving drunk, swerving all over the road to avoid the deep potholes disguised as trenches. After about 34km, we turned off the tarred stretch and onto dirt road, which mostly turned out to be in better condition than the tar section. We still had another 30-odd km of dirt road and from the time we left Umtata and hit our lodge, we must have been driving for what felt like a couple of hours.

The lodge, which was to be our home for the next few days, was a welcome sight. The ocean was even more welcome. Unlike the Cape waters, the Indian Ocean is relatively warm, ranging from 17 to 23 degC across the seasons. When we arrived, it was calm, with small waves lapping at the shore.

Needless to say, our first priority was to quench the thirst we had developed on the dirt road. Actually, we had been doing a bit of that all the way along the dirt road, but now that we had arrived, we had a better reason to crack open a beer. After introductions to the lodge owner and their welcome, we started to unpack fishing gear into the open living area where we would spend a good deal of time, either eating, drinking, playing backgammon or just sitting talking crap. We do a lot of each of those things on these fishing trips, something that keeps drawing us back year on year.

That night, I ended up having a bedroom all to myself as the house we were staying in had enough beds for about 20 people. As we were only 7, and as they have been good friends for a while, only Damba and Tabard ended up sharing a room (single beds, I might add quickly, before I get death threats). My room had four beds in it and I settled on to the one next to the window, in case it got too warm at night. As it happened, it was quite cool in the evenings and it was a pleasure sleeping with the windows open, listening to the birds in the morning. The open windows also acted as a damper for the snoring which came from my neighbours, Damba and Tabard.

Up early on the first morning, we tackled up and took a walk along to Mpame Rocks. The water was looking great, low swell, tide going out and only a light wind blowing. Not long into the morning, Jonny Bravo hooked into a huge Bartail Flathead. It is the biggest of the species we have ever seen and, after photos, it ended up back in the water to live another day.

Fishman had timed our visit to the area to coincide with the spring tides but, as it happened it didn't really help when it came to catching fish. There were very few fish caught over the coming days, with the exception of Damba who just about caught the entire Blacktail stock on the east coast. I dropped a huge Shad on one of the outings and only caught a small sandshark which I promptly put out for a big shark, to no avail. Tabard caught a large Shad on the last evening and was very chuffed, saying that it had made his trip worthwhile. The only other fishing happening of note was the time that Jonny Bravo and I spent hooked into what we believe (and were told by the lodge owner) large guitarfish, and spent 6hrs hanging onto the end of our rods, well into the night, only for us to get bored and end up breaking our lines off in frustration and fatigue. The rest of them say we were hooked into rocks, but rocks don't pull your drag slowly, one click every few seconds. Large fish, on the other hand, do. We'll stick with our side of the story.

We had some amazing sunsets, as can be seen by the photos below.

As usual on these trips, Fishman did most of the evening meals and had us all going back for more each time.

When the days got too hot, we would go back to the lodge and sit around talking crap, drinking and planning our next trip down to the beach, lamenting on the fish we didn't catch on the previous outing, or catching up on some sleep.

I'll start Part 2 of this saga off by explaining how Tabard got his nickname...

Friday, June 05, 2009

It follows us around, apparently...

We had a burglary in our garage on Wednesday night...can you fuckin' believe it?

No, we hadn't become complacent about security, but maybe we had underestimated the crooked bastards who did this.

Sometime between 23h45, when we went to bed, and 08h00 when I walked out to take my car back to the dealer cos they'd cocked up the bakkie's service, some group of bastards bent open the lock and opened the garage door on SWMSBO's side.

They must have closed the door behind them again, to give them some time to help themselves to a select few items.

First, one of them smashed my rear passenger side window. The car was locked, but not by remote which had been destroyed in the whale beaching by a NSRI colleague. If it had been by remote, the alarm would have gone off and probably chased them away. And, believe it or not, I placed the order two days ago for two new remotes knowing that I needed to set the alarm. Ford phoned me this morning to say the remotes have arrived....{too late, bastards).

They proceeded to ransack the bakkie, took my Police fishing sunglasses (which they will not be able to use unless their eyes are as bad as mine), even took a swig out of a small hip flask that I'd left in the cubbyhole (that will be destroyed), took the 4x4 recovery bag from the back seat (snatch strap, tow cable, gloves, etc) and a headlamp which I keep in the cubbyhole for emergencies. They didn't go into the centre console, where my Garmin unit (clip still stuck to the windscreen) sits in a nice little pouch, and my CD collection (SWMSBO says they would have left those on purpose)...nothing else.

SWMSBO's car was unlocked, so they opened her passenger door and ransacked the cubbyhole there too, but in the end took nothing. If they'd checked the drivers side, they would have found her Garmin, and sunglasses, in the door panel.

They swiped the two mountain bikes from their hooks on the garage roof beams, my cruiser's cover (presumably to carry stuff in), and then trashed my workbench, taking drills, sanders, a router and a jigsaw. They even took a set of new drill bits, but left the beautiful aluminium case of router bits. They also left my angle grinder, perhaps thinking I would need it to cut the damaged lock off the door.

I immediately called the cops and they were very helpful and friendly. They arrived on scene within about 30mins to take statements and look around the scene. The fingerprints guy, though, only pitched up at about 4pm. He swished his brush up and down over a few things and, we hope, found two useable fingerprints on a one-piece fishing rod that I have to leave in the garage. They had to move it to take one of the bicycles off the roof in case it made a noise and left two nice prints on it. All other prints were smudged and unusable, so hopefully those two turn something (someone) up. He also took my prints to make sure they were not mine on the rod, but I haven't used that rod in a couple of months and he says the prints were fresh. Here's hoping...

Anyway, today I have to take the bakkie to the glazier for a new window, pass by Ford for the new remotes to be keyed to my vehicle, then get some quotes for the powertools and buy some new security stuff for the house, and then come back home and complete my insurance claim.

All in's a pain in the fuckin' arse. Let's hope Zuma gets his arse into gear and starts delivering on some of those post-election promises he made in Parliament the other day in his State of the Nation address...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Pictures on

A mate found these photos of me, from Saturday's rescue effort, on I didn't even know they had been taken, but there were just as many photographers on the beach as there were rescuers.

On the lighter side, isn't it horrible how a wetsuit can make you look like a whale too?

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Whale of a Time? Not exactly...

Still sleeping on Saturday morning, but being a volunteer NSRI member, I got the callout at 07h45 ("reports of 2 whales beached") and hit the NSRI base at Kommetjie just after 8am. Straight into a wetsuit and down to Surfers Corner on Longbeach to see a large number of people already there. Through the morning, I spoke to a guy who said he was one of the first on the beach that morning and he had counted 56 whales. The whales are popularly known (in error) as Pilot Whales, but are actually "False Killer Whales".

There were, on estimate, between 300 and 400 volunteers, from the public, NSRI, MCM, TMNP, and a couple of other organisations, all trying to help. It's true, it started off a bit chaotic and disorganised, but that did not result in the eventual mass culling of the mammals that is getting unjust worldwide publicity (particularly, as usual, on YouTube). That was done on a humanitarian basis. Leaving the mammals to struggle like that for any longer than they had endured already would have been inhumane to say the least.

For the eight hours that I was in the frigid water, I helped people try and keep "their whale" calm and wet and passed on information updates as we received them from various "informed sources". Some of the information was contradictory to others, which just went to show how unprepared Cape Town marine services are for this type of event. What sounded to me the most logical piece of information was to have the mammal lie at a slight angle, to keep the majority of its weight (some of them weighed an estimated two tonnes) off its lungs and other vital organs, and to "swap sides" every ten minutes or so.

The weather and tides were against us, with 3 to 4 metre swells coming in on a dropping tide, coupled with the strong onshore wind which whipped the water into a cold spray. To make things more difficult, due to the onshore winds and current, large amounts of loose kelp were suspended in the water and made a foothold difficult at times.

At around 9am, we (collectively) had turned around just about every one of the whales and tried to refloat them, but time and again, they returned to the beach mostly about 200m further along. It appeared they were just not interested in returning to sea. The reason/s for this is, and will be for some time to come, debated but I suspect we will never actually know. We just don't know enough about these creatures to say for sure.

Some of the whales, it is estimated, were turned around up to 10 times yet each time they returned to the shore and beached again. Undaunted though, the volunteers regrouped every time and tried again and again to get each of the whales to head back out to sea through the rough surf, in the end to no avail.

Another of the amazing things that happened was the way in which the volunteers were treated by "support crews" from the public and the NSRI. Mostly, the NSRI support crew supplied hot drinks and food for our own people, but never turned down a request of a drink or a hot dog from a volunteer from the public. I had Energade drinks, chunks of chocolate bars, hot coffee laced with sugar for energy, and juice thrust at me from a number of people. It was quite astounding to see the effort and disregard for expense that some people put in. A hat would have been nice though, as I ended up with a sunburned head and what I suspect was a mild dose of sunstroke... :-) That'll teach me, if there's a next time, to take a cap along.

All the while that we were trying to refloat the whales, senior members of the various organisations were discussing the situation, and passing along decisions, but at around 2pm the NSRI teams received the news that, as they had no desire to return to the sea, the whales were to be "put down". It was, and still is, very difficult to see and think about a 5.2m whale, which you had been nursing for two hours thinking that it might somehow change its mind and want to swim off on the incoming tide, take a bullet to "put it out of its misery". In caring for this particular whale, I met some great people and we discussed, joked and laughed about things relating to the efforts and just life in general, but when the decision was relayed to us, I had to walk away as I felt I'd been let down by my own organisation. However, as was discussed with us later, the decision to euthanase the mammals did not come from the NSRI (we are primarily concerned about the safety of people in the water) but from senior members of the government's Marine and Coastal Management and a professor of marine matters. It did not, however, make me feel any better about what was to happen to the whales.

The NSRI teams were asked to help the police form a line at the northern end of the beach, accompanied by a line of vehicles to keep the crowd away. Loudspeakers were used to ask the public to move off the beach, but it wasn't until after the first shot rang out that I suspect the public understood what was going to happen. Some people had brought their children down to see the beaching and were horrified that they were now seeing a mass cull. People wondered how the authorities could allow their children to see this, but it was not the authorities who brought the children down to the beach. Isn't it strange how some people refuse to accept responsibility for things they do themselves and try to blame it on someone/something else? I lost track of how many times I heard police and MCM asking people to remove themselves from the beach to allow the efforts to proceed. The SAPS and Metro Police, while they started off doing a great job, eventually gave up on trying to keep the public back from the whales, but now the lines of vehicles and SAPS and NSRI members forced them to make their way up the dunes.

The line moved southwards along the beach, stopping now and then for the policeman with the rifle to make a shot or two. In a sad sort of way, he was a good shot as I did not see him have to take a second shot at any of the whales. Eventually, I could not take any more of it and left the line, making my way back to the station's mobile unit to wait with some of our crew members.

At around 4pm, I left the beach and made my way back to my bakkie, got out of the wetsuit as I was now beginning to shiver and got dressed in my dry, warm, tracksuit and jersey. I went back to the base, washed off the wetsuits that had been used by some of our crew, hanged them up to dry inside the base and moved down to the launch site to see if there was any activity down there. Here I found that we were about to launch a boat to rescue two whales which had been swum out but had re-beached on the rocks about 500m south of the original site.

While I was waiting for the boat to come down from the base, I chatted to a NSRI volunteer from Gordons Bay (40km away) and some little wanker with a video camera ran past us and shouted "Where were you this morning?" to which we responded we were at the orginal site. In return he shouted, "Great. Look out for yourself on the internet tomorrow morning. Get scared." At first, I didn't understand what he meant, but he had obviously been taking photographs or footage of NSRI people while we were in the line during the cull and was about to post our pictures on the internet to try and get us disgraced by members of the public who viewed his footage. First thing today, I went onto YouTube and did a search for the videos that I knew would already be there and, I suspect, though not confirmed, that the piece of footage submitted by "" was done by the same person. This video shows a skewed viewpoint, as though nothing positive had been done throughout the day. I tried to post a comment in response to the footage but the YouTube server is obviously too busy. My comment to Mr Jackson was to have been, "As a proud member of the NSRI, I spent 10hrs trying with hundreds of volunteers to save these whales. I have a question for Mr ""...While we were in the water doing our bit, WHAT WERE YOU DOING TO HELP, YOU FUCKING HYPOCRITE? If there's a next time, either GET A WETSUIT ON OR STAY THE FUCK OFF THE BEACH!!" People like him piss the hell out of me as they contribute very little to humanity, always seeking to sensationally get recognised for their "work". Well, as I said, he better stay the fuck off the beach next time, as I might just have a go at him myself.

As it was, there was no need to launch our boat as three more members of the public had waded out on the rocks and brought the distressed whales into the shore. Not long after that, the policeman with the rifle appeared and, this time with reason I believe, put these two out of their misery.

By 6pm, I was cold and hungry, so headed home for a shower as there was nothing more I could do to help, either the whales or my NSRI crew. As I got home, my missus had also just arrived home from her art class and I tried as best I could to relay the day's events to her. It wasn't easy and I hope I don't have to experience a day like this again.

The people involved in the rescue, whether they were from the general public or any of the number of organisations, were great and tried damned hard to rescue the whales, but in the end, unfortunately, we failed. Hopefully, though, we learned some valuable lessons which might make any future rescues a success.