Underwater Club Trips I Recall – Keith Winstone

The first post exam trip the club went on was to the Great Barrier in 1960 (mind you this may have been before the club was actually formed). I don’t know a lot about this trip except the weather was bad, they couldn’t get back on time, and they ran out of food. I recall that Brian came back saying he didn’t care if he never saw another crayfish as that’s about all they had eaten for days.

University Underwater Club post exam camp at Deep Water Cove (Bay of Islands) in 1963.

Next years post exam trip was to Whananaki and I attended the first weekend of the camp. The diving was good and there were about 22 on the camp. Brian got into strife from this as 2 flagons of beer rolled against each other and smashed on the floor in the back of Mum’s car, and it reeked for days. This was the first major camp the club held and much of the club’s camping gear was bought at this time. It was highly successful and resulted in quite a few new members joining.

Then came the trip that was unforgettable when permission was gained to stay on the big Cavalli Island. It was fantastic from the start with the rail car to Otiria followed by a bus and boat trip to the island. The weather was reasonably kind and the diving superb. The most memorable thing for me was the night one of the guys decided to sleep in the beachfront woolshed as each night he had set and lost his fishing line. Two of us joined him and settled down for the night on a hard timber floor. At 2:30am there was a scream and here he was hopping down the beach with one leg horizontally out in front, with a large fish on his line, which was tied to his toe. Luckily for him the line broke before it severed his toe. I never believed anyone could be so foolish and have rarely seen anything so funny.

The following year we tried to get permission to return to the Cavalli’s but the conditions the owner wanted made it impossible and so we went to Deep Water Cove in the Bay of Islands. At this time the cottages, which had been used for the fishing camp from the time of Zane Grey, were still there and were still in reasonable condition. However when some of us tried sleeping in them we got covered in fleas and quickly beat a hasty retreat. The guys built the most amazing long drop loo on the headland but as it had only 2 walls so you could enjoy the view the girls built their own loo elsewhere. The diving was really good and this time one of the guys brought a fizz boat along which gave us a lot more flexibility.

There were weekend trips in addition but we never went on many of these as we had the yacht and went away most weekends. However when the committee decided it was a shame not to have something in winter and organised a weekend at Muriwai during the Toheroa season we were quick to get our names on the list. These trips were a lot of fun and the Toheroa were enormous (at least in hindsight anyway). The beach was lethal in those days with no traffic rules and people hooning all over the place.

All in all the University Underwater Club gave me many wonderful memories and we had many unforgettable experiences.

Keith Winstone
(April 2009)