The weather was, using soft swear words, pants.
It was Friday morning and thick black clouds blanketed the sky. Ben, the skipper, was listening keenly to his VHF radio for the latest weather report. Plenty of nautical terms later and the man on the radio concluded that the weather was pants. It would get more pants in a couple of hours, and then less pants around midday. But it would still be pants.
The Sea Cleaners, who are contracted by Watercare Harbour Clean-Up Trust to tidy up Auckland’s waterways, had planned to take a diver out to Rangitoto Island to finally try to find the anchor that had fallen off the Phil Warren II a few weeks back.
But during a quick walk up and down Pier U to pick up any rubbish, Ben received a text, the diver had cancelled. The weather was pants underwater too.
Outside Westhaven the seas were choppy, too choppy to take the boat much further than Auckland’s harbours and marinas. This was a day for walking in and around piers and scooping bobbing remnants of city life.
It made me reflect on our impending Pacific row. Bad weather won’t – can’t – stop us heading out to sea. We will have already headed out to sea. Our only security will be the drogue and the parachute anchor that will stop our boat careering sideways down a wave and rolling like one of Donkey Kong’s barrels.
Ben took the Phil Warren II in and out of the marinas and harbours, tying off the boat before Ben, James – a trainee skipper – and I jumped off and scooped up the small debris: bottle tops; cigarettes; cigarette packets; straws; stirrers; coffee cup lids and the like with the telescopic nets.
The debris collects in piles of drift bracken, meaning that bit scoops of organic material gets collected for every few pieces of plastic, but it’s all worth it.
So Friday was a wind and rain affected one, but considering the weather we picked up a fair amount, perhaps 50 litres all told (not bad when the debris was, on average, straw sized), and we also removed two big logs that had obviously been spotted floating menacingly about the harbour and put on the harbour side for safety.