A Trip Down Memory Lane with Michael Ryland.

I remember a January Club meeting, some 25 years ago, and the question went around the room as to what did everyone get up to over the Christmas holidays? 
One guy said "I jumped on a rock as a shark went by."
"That’s nothing!" said Rex Jones, quick as a flash.  "I took LSD and jumped on a shark as a rock went by."

A few years later, and volunteers were being sought for a project.  After those names were taken, Bernie Domb said "Peter Silvester was going to put up his hand for that, but found it wouldn’t go any higher than his mouth."

A trip approximately 13 years ago to D’Urville Island on the "Golden Sunset" (owned by the late Doug Timbs - a life member) saw 14 of us head over the Strait for Easter.  Names such as Doug Timbs, Graham Timbs, Brian Delaney, Brent Goddard, Dave Mundell, Bernie Domb, the late “Herman” Bradshaw, Barry Kooistra, Anne Williams (now Petersen), Peter Silvester, Warren Mosley, Michael Ryland , and two others.

We left Greta Point on Thursday night and headed out into a rough Northerly.  (The Golden Sunset was a 65 foot aluminium catamaran, 27 feet wide.)  We left at night time and by Karori Light those who weren’t crewing the boat had gone to bed.

When we came around Cape Terawhiti and into the teeth of the gale, people were getting tossed around in their bunks like pancakes being tossed in a pan.  I was glad the 'cat' was made out of metal, and not wood.

You know it’s rough from the later reports, such as; Dave Mundell saying after he was flicked off his bunk at the top of a wave the yacht would crash into a wave trough and he would remain suspended in air, frequently with 10 inches of air between him and the mattress.  Bernie Domb, who was in the large starboard hull bow berth, said it felt as if he was on a trampoline.

Once across the Strait it was calmer and a good trip was had.  Unfortunately Anne’s eyebrow was opened up by a knock from the bottom of Barry’s SCUBA tank as he turned around during kitting up, while wearing it.  That was the end of diving that weekend for Anne.

After lunch, one day, the topic of amputations came up.  This morose subject was enlivened when Bernie Domb said "You could cut me off at the knees and turn me into a tripod."

Some great crays were plucked at Walker Rock, on the way home.  That’s further out than the lighthouse on a rock off Cape Jackson.  Graham Timbs got an 11 pounder.

Having only been to Mayor Island 16 or 17 times, I well remember those Labour Weekend trips.  Usually arriving at Mt Maunganui around 5:30 to 6:15am on the Saturday morning, we faced an exhausting weekend of diving and late night revelry, already wiped out from lack of sleep and alcohol on the bus trip up.

Getting smarter, as the years progressed, Newlands Coach Services put on two drivers to make the trip almost non-stop and tried to discourage drinking on the bus by refusing to make relief stops.

An example of  the drinking (by me - in my twenties) would be to be dropped off, at the bus, by my Mother and Aunt;  keep an eye on my gear until loading time, get the gear stowed and dash into the Thistle Inn for a quick jug, then those of us in the pub would get the call to board the bus - and off!!  Several cans of beer later the bus would stop at the Paraparaumu Hotel, for a relief stop.  After checking the plumbing another jug was downed, then off again.  Several more cans later Levin arrived.  This was for last minute shopping and a meal stop.  Not needing any shopping, the stop would give me time for a pint or three in the Levin Hotel before the customary Chinese meal.

I remember gulping down six pintsin the pub at Levin, one Friday night and three more cans, from under the table, during dinner in the Chinese restaurant.  All the while being observed by the serious dispositioned eight year old daughter (of the owner) who operated the case register with a maturity well in advance of her years.  She regarded me disapprovingly.

Watching her grow up year by year was fascinating.  Now married, she is no longer there, and her father (who had many daughters) has sold the restaurant about three years ago and retired.

Back in the bus and with a large dinner and a generous amount of liquid inside one’s tum, it seemed like a long wait until the toilet at the Rangitikei Tavern at Bulls arrived.  During this time the drinking slowed down.  Then a frantic dash into the toilet and time for a last quick jug, which almost had to be sculled so as not to be left behind.

Next stop Taihape.  It was during this leg of the journey that the bus driver (or subsequently drivers) would inflict their torture by refusing to stop.

One enterprising young diver just behind me, sitting on the right two seats forward of the bench seat at the back, took the plastic bag cover off his sleeping bag and had a jimmy riddle in that.  Whereupon his seating neighbour followed suit.  So did the two guys in the seat behind, the five across the bench seat at the back, and the four in the two seats forward from the back on the left.  However, when passed to the third seat from the rear it was judged to be rather full.

"What shall I do?" asked one diver.  "Tip it out the window," said his buddy.

"Great idea," came the enthusiastic reply.  The sliding upper window (that buses have) duly opened.  The pour began. 

Unfortunately, two rows back the window was also open (for ventilation) and the slip-stream carried almost the entire golden pond all over both divers in the last seat and all five on the rear bench seat.

I guess that’s called getting your own back (but not on the driver in this case).

Another year (1968) I had paid for two places on the trip but the female I was planning to take couldn’t make it at the last minute.  I invited a colleague from work (Ian Scott) to come of the trip.  He is a non-diver and that trip we really did some drinking.  Ian later became my flat-mate.

Saturday night on the island, and we had six 750ml bottles of Sparkling Waitemata beer each, before dinner.  After dinner I had another ten bottles and a couple of double whiskys in between.

Leaving the bar at 4:30am we set off for our cabin.  The cabins had painted concrete floors and a concrete floored shower and separate toilet and double wooden bunks.  From memory cabins had 4, 6, or 8 bunks.  Our cabin had six bunks and mine was the top one (not my choice of bunks).

During the night (what was left of it) I needed a pee.  Stumbling out of my bunk I groped by way in the dark to the toilet, did my business and returned to the bunk.  However, every time I tried to climb in, someone threw me out.  "Very puzzling," I thought.

Then Ian spoke up and said "Do you want me to sleep in the top bunk, Mike?"

At that point I snapped out of the semi-stupor and now, fully awake, found myself sitting upright at on the concrete floor at the foot of Ian’s lower bunk, trying to climb into it, rather than standing and trying to climb into my own.  Every time I would try to climb onto Ian's feet he would sit up and push me off.  That explained the imagined bunk intruder who was repelling my attempts to return to bed.

Feeling slightly embarrassed, but now properly awake, I had much better luck and only moderate trouble climbing into my own top bunk, and at the head end.

In the morning I wasn’t the first out of bed.  Others getting dressed began collecting clothes strewn on the floor in the corner, by the shower.  One said, "My socks are wet."  Another said, "So are my shorts."  A third said, "So is my jersey."  Woops!  Who couldn’t identify the toilet during the night?

I should point out that most of us were only snorkelling and spearfishing in those days, rather than chancing the perils of drinking and SCUBA diving.

Sunday night was again a late night in the bar, but no diving on Monday morning.  Instead a sleep on the beach left me with a badly sun-burnt belly.  This blistered and, after several showers over the next few days, all joined up into a fluid filled bag swishing around my middle, back in Wellington.  However, one other hapless diver, who also had a beach sleep, laid his hands on his belly in a self satisfied pose.  When he awoke he had a very red belly with two white, open-fingered hand prints on his stomach, as if being held from behind.

These days Ian calls me Mike "pour me another" Ryland.  You can imagine how flatting was, at times.


Copyright © 2021
Wellington Underwater Club