Do you have any pizza on board?

The storm we have been trying to stay ahead of was going to meet us near the Kermadec island called Raoul. This island is the largest of several small islands half-way between Tonga and New Zealand, and is part of New Zealand. Raoul is both a marine and land sanctuary. Only conservationists are allowed to live there. There used to be a weather station located there, but after a volcanic disturbance killed a researcher the station was closed down.

Given the timing, we decided we would stop at the island to wait out the storm. You normally aren’t allowed to anchor there – unless you are seeking shelter from weather. We called on the radio and informed the conservationist team we were coming. They said it would be all right given the weather situation, but we could not come ashore. The young woman who answered the radio spoke with a heavy Kiwi accent, did not know normal radio protocol, but was friendly.

We could see the island’s tall mountains of Raoul from 50 miles away. It is actually a big island – maybe 15 km around. It took all day for us to arrive. We finally found the anchorage on the northeast side near sheer rocky cliffs. It was a bit swelly, but there was no wind at the time so it seemed fine. We arrived in the calm before the storm.

After we set the hook, and as I was taking a nap, we got a call on the radio. It was the same gal on the island who called us earlier. Here ensued a very strange, and hilarious, conversation!

She first asked if we could see them on the shore near the fishing rocks. I had to pull out the binoculars, but I finally spotted them. Three people. I said: “We finally spotted you there by the shore”. She said: “Oh good – well… how are you doing out there?” We said: “Oh just fine.” Pause.

Next she said: “We have to ask these questions – Do you have any rats? Because, we are setting traps and we have to make sure no rats swim ashore from boats.” Oh boy, what a question to ask of a nice looking yacht like Tahina. I said: “No, we have no rats, or even bugs on board.” She then said: “This is a sanctuary, do you know the rules?” I said: “Just what we read in the charts: No fishing, and no coming ashore. We assume any other typical sanctuary regulations would apply.” She said: “Spot on. Very good then. Do you know when you will leave?” Are they rushing us off now? I said: “In the morning after the storm passes.” Then she said: “Do you have any pizza on board?

We all looked at each other with great puzzlement on our faces. Did she just say “pizza”? That’s the weirdest question. Are they desperate for pizzas over there? No pizza in months probably. So, I said: “Well, we don’t have any – but, we have all the fixings. We could probably make some.” There was a long pause. So, I added: “We assumed you meant pizza – like Italian Pizza?” There was another pause – and a slightly amused tone: “No, I meant peeets-aboard – like cats and dogs!” I was still confused over the “peetsa” word – but, Paul immediately said: PETS! We were all laughing now, I finally realized she must be asking typical customs-like questions. So, I said: “No, we have no pets on board.” In an amused tone. They must have thought we were nuts! Ha! She said: “All right then, just give us a call in the morning when you are departing.” I said: “We will do that – it will probably be mid-morning.” Another pause, she then said: “Well, we would have brought you some tea, but there’s no way for us to get together. If you have any questions about the island, feel free to give us a call.” We said, “OK, thank you. Talk to you later. Tahina Clear.”

They then started walking back up a trail. Karen said she thought they were looking for an invitation to come aboard. But, there was no way to pick them up safely with our dinghy at the rocks.

We were all puzzling over the conversation. Why the long pauses? We really started laughing in earnest about the “pets” question. They must have been really confused when we said we could make some! Haha! I was laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes. But, even Paul thought she said pizzas! 🙂 He said you are getting a taste of the different way Kiwis talk. They say “eh” words with a long “e” sound. He said when she was talking about bringing tea, they really meant food. From now on every conversation with customs is going to have an amusing train of thought in our heads. We decided the long pauses were probably because the other two people with her were prompting her what to say. It was the weirdest conversation.

Welcome to Raoul – land of pizza lovers.

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3 Responses to Do you have any pizza on board?

  1. Jess Clark says:

    Kia ora Tahina!
    I had fits of laughter reading this blog!
    What a brilliant and meaningful journey you are on.
    Actually we had only been conservationists on Raoul Island for a week, 4 of us are here for a year and 4 others for 6 months. So on our first week of using radios we had 4 yachts!
    There is still a weather station located here, it was the Volcano that blew and very sadly took the life of a previous staff member. I let a weather balloon go as you were sailing past along the Northern side, I wondered of you would see it but I think the whales had your attention by then.
    We were kind of expecting to see the crew wave out from the boat when we were at Fishing Rock, not to offer to make us pizza!
    It is customary in NZ to welcome visitors with a cup of tea, english breakfast usually…
    Anyway, I hope you enjoy New Zealand and our (or your) accent doesn’t get you in too much trouble:-)
    Have a safe trip,
    Jess, the friendly gal on the radio:-)

  2. Frank Taylor says:

    Hi Jess! Thanks so much for contacting us. It was definitely a misunderstanding worth remembering! I could imagine the looks on your faces when I said “We don’t have any on board, but we have all the fixin’s – we could make you some!”. 🙂
    If we are ever in close proximity, we should definitely get together for some pizza!

  3. Jess Clark says:

    Hi Frank,
    I’ll definitely take you up on pizza!
    In about a year I’ll be off Raoul and looking for another adventure, otherwise stop in if your passing again (with a permit of course:-)
    Glad to see you guys got a bottle of bubbly instead of a cup of tea when you arrived on the mainland.
    I’ll be following your journey.
    Go well,

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