I used to work just outside a small town called Mtunzini. At a place called Road Island, it is a petrol station with a few shops. My dad and a partner owned the company and my dad ran the petrol station. I ran the 24 hour restaurant take away with my Aunt. It was a family business.
I had a land-rover bakkie and I would often hit the beach and drive to the mouth or take the boat and go deep sea fishing. I did lots of other crazy adventures with my Landy but that is for another blog post.
The mission was to go to the lighthouse before Mapelane , we would sleep in the dunes. My Sisters boy friend, would borrow my parents Landy and bring my sister and a friend with him. My 2 best mates, Patrick and Norman would pull in the next day. Norman was bringing his girlfriend. Norman had a world war 2 jeep, that he has restored himself. It had no roof and was all open to the elements. My brother in law and myself would go through on Friday afternoon. This was the days before GPS, I wanted to see if we could find a way onto the beach going through the forestry roads just after Richards Bay.
Well they had cut down a lot of trees so there where roads everywhere but nothing leading to the beach. Each time we got close we would be blocked off by the natural forest. We kept trying and I was slowly moving closer to Mapelane. In the end we found a good solid road and this took us up to the lighthouse on the hill. Down we went on the other side through the casuarina forest. Then we found a place to get onto the beach. It was late so we setup camp, well I think I took a sleeping bag and put it on the floor. I had my dog with me, a Jack Russel named Calvin (after Calvin and Hobbs) he was the security.
The next day woke up and can’t remember what we did. I knew my mates where on there way, then we would do some serious diving for crayfish. Well my mates arrived and the had an extra person with them in the car. It was a friend of the girlfriend. They stopped and got out of the car, she stood up on the back of the jeep and held onto the roll bar. What a sight! Flaming red hair with the ocean as a backdrop. I was taken aback. When I cam back to earth we did all the meet and greet, her name was Nola. Then us guys took to the water to get some crayfish. If I remember correctly we only managed to get one crayfish. Which we shared. That night the boozed flowed and we made up strange mixes due to thing running out. I remember Nola and I having lots of fun as we poured each other stronger and stronger drinks, or was she doing that to me?
Later that night she and my mates girlfriend wanted to go for a walk. I joined them and it was a great walk, we held hands. My mates girlfriend ended up going back on her own. After that weekend we all went back to our normal lives. It took me a week to call up Nola and see if she would be interested in going out.
As the saying goes the rest is history. We dated, got married and now have 3 children.
I am also a crayfish diver. I got introduced to crayfishing when I was very young. We would go to Mapelane with my parents and uncle and spend the night on the beach at railway camp, it was planned around full moon so we could take advantage of the spring tides. This was in the days when you could still ride on the beaches. We would then put traps into the cracks in the rocks and wait in darkness, did not want the lights to scare them away. The traps are about a 30cm dia ring with no sides made out of chicken wire, it was like a flat disk with three strong wires attached to the side and that attached to a rope threaded through a deep see fishing rod. So you had to get the timing right and pull the trap up when I big wave came. Then you would need to pounce on the crayfish before they jumped off and made the escape back into the rocks.
Later on in my life I started snorkeling and diving for crayfish. This could be the reason that I missed many a class at tech. If the weather was good we where out diving. The days of irresponsibility 🙂
When I was in Cape Town I crayfished off my fishingski. It was lots of fun and rather easy. The traps are different and the sea is a lot calmer. Later on when I lived in Durban, I had a spot in Umhlanga that I would get my quota of crayfish from. I remember once and I think this could be a once in a lifetime thing. The tide was high and the sea was so flat that we where diving right against the rocks next to the lighthouse at Umhlanga There is a rock that you would normally never be able to get at. On this day I saw the biggest crayfish I have ever seen. I had to come up for air and let me mate know what was up so he could go the other side of the rock just in case I missed and it tried to swim away, I had to get my composure as this was a biggie. This was not the first time we had worked as a team to get a crayfish. I went down and all went to plan and I pounced on the crayfish. It was an unbelievable day! That day we both got our quota of crays and we dived in a spot that we had never dived before and I am not sure if we will never dive there again.
In the days out of season I would dive for lead. It was such a blast and it is amazing how many sinkers are in the sea. They also collect in areas so you can scoop them out by the handful. You could not take to many otherwise coming up for air becomes a huge challenge. I did melt some of my lead and make new sinkers the rest I sold to a dive shop, I am sure they made weights out of them.
I have a ear problem so I am unable to dive very deep. So I do a lot of scratching around in the shallows around the rocks. It is lots of work as the wave push and pull you, the body does feel great afterwards, like a good yoga session. I still love diving for Crayfish and when I can’t it is just fun snorkeling and seeing what is in the rocks.
Below is just a short video of me catching a crayfish. Thanks to my mate Norman for doing the video.