okay, I was volunteered — to be honorary Ship’s Photographer. People liked my snaps. What they didn’t know was that I owned a Yashica Electro 35—I didn’t know an f-stop from a bus stop myself but had no compunctions about taking the credit for my clever camera’s shots—after all, somebody had to hold the blasted thing while it worked its magic, no? But the ship’s camera was an Olympus … how could anyone refuse?


almost cost me my life when the Z-boat flipped as we were doing the white-water bit trying to cross the reef into one of the Tokelaus. Upside down in a boiling sea and festooned with lenses and junk, I still had time to regret accepting the honour. Atafu Island, I think; it also drove home the message that one should never be complacent where the sea is concerned.


you aren’t involved really involved. You cannot smell what’s happening and even better, you can’t feel it. Sometimes there are strong forces at work—

Sea 1

—and when the old tub is rolling forty you hang on and sneak your snap with one hand as she’s coming back upright. All good clean fun and “sure beats wurkin’~!” (I often felt sorry for the guys in the galley, running around collecting all the fried eggs off the deck after a good roll—how do you pick up a few hundred slithery fried eggs?)


not far from home is a beach. For thousands of years the rivers and streams have been washing soil and silt and sand and gravel and gold, rubies, garnets etc down out of the Longwoods onto Gemstone Beach.


go there often and prowl up and down (tide permitting) with eyes locked a few inches ahead of mobile toes. It can be very addictive, sometimes with unexpected consequences—

Sea 2

—and now The Spouse knows why I kept telling her “Never turn your back on the sea!”.

(I discovered something about soggy women on the way home—they never stop dripping …)







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  2. [very big Tiger grin] I knew this would be right up your estuary. What an amazing job to have, ship’s photographer. One of the first jobs I applied for when I was ‘auditioning’ for the army was photographer. I when I was much younger I wanted to be a war journalist, but somehow the universe did it’s damndest to prevent me for being in the forces at all. Probably just as well, although been in one or two war situations as a civilian. I think I would have coped just fine, but I’m guessing that wasn’t the point. You know it never occurred to me to try for the navy.

  3. It was a title only, with all the free film I could eat and the use (monopoly!) of the official Olympus … paradise enow. I got to see a few interesting things and even did a wee bit of ‘intelligence’ work.

    All good clean fun until you get half-drowned. I vaguely remember a similar accident in the same place killed a Lt Cdr a few years later, but details are hazy there.

    Thanks for the tip off, it changes every Friday, huh? (Obsequious wag wag wag … ?)

  4. We stopped at Gemstone Beach at the start of the year – would never have known it was there if not for a friend in Queenstown tipping us off. Great fun on a wet and wild sort of day. Not sure any were ‘gems’, but a wee collection of pretty stones made their way home with us.

    1. You get all weathers at Gemstone—often simultaneously … gems are in the eye of the beholder, a friend once found a nice ruby, we collect el cheapo garnets. He made a few grand turning micro-gold (dust) into wee nuggets but he’d never get rich doing it.

      Spouse and self, it’s more of an undeclared contest, and ‘She’ is years ahead … so long as you had fun~!

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