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Library of published articles about Primetime, and information on marlin and swordfish fisheries.
Article: Nightime is primetime [Blue Water Magazine, Sept/Oct 2001].
Article: Gone fishin' lately? [NZ Marine Scene Magazine, Sept/Oct 2001].
Article: Primetime for broadbill [NZ Fishing News Magazine, Aug 2001].
Article: Boat Feature - Primetime  [NZ Marine Scene Magazine, Xmas 2000].
Information: The New Zealand Marlin Fishery.
Information: The New Zealand Broadbill Swordfish Fishery.

Boat Feature : PRIMETIME.

[Published in New Zealand Marine Scene Magazine, December/January 2001. Written by Tim Findley, reproduced courtesy of NZ Marine Scene magazine.]

Webster’s dictionary defines the word prime as: "first in time", "first in rank, of first quality and "first rate". The name "Primetime" is well chosen, for each applies equally to this extended cockpit, 58 foot overall charter fishing vessel.

Having experienced some of the oceans more boisterous moods, this writer readily admits to the nervousness flimsy flying bridges and the sheer terror that vulnerable glass imparts, even within sheltered coastal waters. Here is a vessel that takes the best from the world of luxury and privilege and arms it with the Marine Safety Authorities uncompromising requirements for blue water commercial operation.

She is surveyed for operations from East Cape to Egmont 200 nautical miles offshore. Then down to Stewart Island, back to East Cape 100 n.m. out.

But what does it mean "built to survey?"

There was the day when such boats were dismissed as "a mouse built to elephant’s standards", with galvanised iron buckets, painted red and filled with sand. "Fires, for the putting out of".

Such stupidity is well behind us and today’s Safe Ship Management Rules reflect practicality and purpose employing current technology.

Evidence "Primetime’s" pneumatic cockpit hatch seals, her C.O.2 flood engine room fire suppression system.

Concealed behind a finish that places her decor amongst the most luxurious of harbour cruisers, are literally hundreds of specified requirements that enable "Primetime’s" hard purpose.

The ability to go to sea and to conduct her business there. To go where no other licensed charter vessel may operate.

But why? What point is the enormous extra cost of extreme limits certification?

For the answer we must meet a man whose dream is introducing others to the deep water world he has known all his working life.

John Gregory went to sea just after his 15th birthday. He has logged over 147,000 commercial hours at sea.

Dividing that by 24 results in 6,125 days and there’s 356 days in a year.

John’s ticket is N.Z. Offshore Masters. Few, if any fishing charter skippers are so qualified.

A giant of a man, he compromises "Primetime’s" generous saloon headroom as he settles to explain the rationale behind his investment in this quite different sector of our fishing industry.

"All my life I’ve been at sea catching fish for both domestic and export market. It’s a hard life but a rewarding one in terms of challenge and enjoyment", he explains.

"The downside is sometimes weeks away. Winter fishing the Tasman can be taxing when front after front comes roaring up out of the Southern Ocean to make a fisherman’s life miserable".

"But against that are the wonderful times spent above an offshore sea mount, as the water boils for miles around with sea life of every description".

It is this experience and knowledge John wishes to bring to the market place, for the first time allowing amateur fishermen access to areas that have never felt an angler’s rod and line.

"These areas can be so wonderful, so bursting with life they defy description". "But at the same time they can be extremely dangerous" John warns.

The powerful East Auckland current, thwarted by rapidly rising spires of rock can conspire with relentless ocean swell to produce enormous, unbelievable cliffs of water.

"And that’s the reason "Primetime" has no forward facing glass in her saloon", he confirms. Such spots are both the best and worst places to be. It is John’s years and years of experience that allows him to read weather and sea conditions affording his charterers a unique opportunity.

"But such a voyage is not everyone’s ambition", says John.

"My style of chartering focus’s on the customer’s requirements". "I don’t want "Primetime" to gain a reputation as a good marlin boat or top tuna catcher, what I want is satisfied clients". "If that means snapper fishing, salt water fly fishing, eco-touring or just going after a feed of cray and scallops, that’s what we do".

John’s market are those who wish to enjoy remote coastline, see our wild offshore islands and to spend nights in the little known fishermen’s anchorages that don’t appear on charts. And he wishes to do this in a professional manner.

"Whilst I’ve got vast practical knowledge of fishing and seamanship it’s true to say that a fisherman’s life is scarcely comparable to the hospitality trade" John jokes.

"To address this I took Rod Marsh’s professional skippers game fishing course, run out of Hervey Bay in Queensland. It’s the only tutorial I know that actually teaches skipper-client duties and relationships".

It is one more verification of the thoroughness of preparation of both skipper and boat.

It’s quite a different approach to traditional "harvesting of resources". As a commercial fisherman, John would be rewarded at x dollars per kilo for this species and y dollars for that species he caught.

Talk about adding value! Just imagine the snapper that gets gathered up in a trawl net to wind up in the supermarket at twenty five dollars a kilo, skinned and boned. His mate slips the net to succumb to John’s client’s tempting bait.

How much a kilo does he cost?

Squillions. Let’s say John’s charterers are a group of North Americans down here for the sole purpose of experiencing our justifiably famous deep sea fishing.

There’s the airfares, accommodation and hire cars to start with. Add John’s charter rate, a bit of business for the souvenir shops and that snappers going down at a thousand dollars a mouthful.

But wait, there’s more!

These wealthy, dedicated, world travelling fisherfolk lead the charge when it comes to tag and release. For them its enough to capture these magnificent creatures, a quick photo, then see them swim away with little more than a sore mouth.

Now that’s the ultimate, isn’t it?

You got it. You sell it, but you still got it! Whatever, the end result is our fishing stocks harvested in this manner must be a thousand times more sustainable than trawling to satisfy an every growing offshore market. "Everything must be top class", warns John. "These folk are accustomed to the best of quality and service and are quite prepared to pay for it".

"Interestingly, I’ve learnt the skipper needs to be a bit of a psychoanalyst", he continues. "Trolling for gamefish in sloppy conditions can be less than enjoyable. One needs to be quite intuitive to judge when clients might be happier giving it up in favour of sheltered snapper or salt water fly fishing.

"There’s an element of macho image amongst a number of our charter operators that tends to put off repeat business. I think part of the skipper’s skill is judging when the clients have had enough rather than trying to prove how tough they and their boats are.

Such sensitivity is bound to pay huge dividends in repeat and referred business.

But why Salthouse? Surely it’s not a pedigree that enjoys recognition amongst commercial fishermen?

"We aren’t unaware of pleasure boating", grins John. "What I needed was a sports fisherman that had proven sea keeping abilities. The Sovereign range has proven itself as a blue water hull, it remained to marry the requirements of a luxurious decor with a tough work boat able to take the knocks".

He continued to describe his guiding principle for "Primetime’s" construction. "It’s to the book and beyond". "I’ve been there, I know what it’s like. I don’t want to be caught out, but if I do I know my boat won’t let me down".

John is unstinting of his praise for the Salthouse Marine Group.

There’s an old saying, ‘the sea will find you out’. John certainly has the experience to know where the sea will poke and pry and Salthouse’s the expertise to capitalise on his knowledge.

"Salthouse had competition when I was considering what boat I wanted" remarked John. "But my requirement for a 200 n.m. survey had everyone else backing off". "In the event Salthouse Marine Group have proved excellent to work with and I cannot speak too highly of them".

Every ocean sailing yachtsman leaving New Zealand gets the advice, "she’ll be right when you get a couple of hundred miles north of the Cape. It’s just a first two hundred that can be a bit messy".

It’s this area the big Salthouse is designed for.


Conifer Lane, R.D.1, Kerikeri, New Zealand
Phone/Fax ++64 9 407 1299, Mobile ++64 27 487 0344
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