Family and farming, not fishing, are the life now for Aaron Laboyrie, who after 25 years of crossing Raglan’s infamous bar has finally called it quits — and put lots of “niggly things” behind him.
Last week his 42-foot charter vessel Taranui was brought up the slipway at Raglan wharf, hoisted by crane on to a transporter and taken by road to Tairua for another life on the East coast.
Aaron concedes he loves fishing on a good day and hasn’t had “anything major” go wrong, but says it was time for a change and lots of little “niggly things” got to him recently.
“It’s getting harder down the wharf,” he reckons. There’s been no “proper” wharf there for more than two years now and many long-held boat maintenance practices are now frowned upon.
“It’s so PC,” he says of the changes.
Aaron acknowledges the support from local harbourmaster Steve Soanes, who’s helped where possible, but says there have been “just lots of little things hanging over me”.
He cites waterblasting to get barnacles and weed off the hull as one problem, and expects that Raglan boats will soon need to be taken to New Plymouth to be cleaned.
And rather than simply dragging mooring blocks to shore every year or two to replace chains, it’s become a matter of spending about $1000 to bring another boat around from Kawhia and lift them from the water.
“There’s more and more costs,” he complains.
Aaron sold what he calls his “mean machine”, the 55-foot Maverick, last year in favour of operating the smaller Taranui in a bid to reduce costs.
But while he says things worked out okay for a time, in the end he lost heart and decided to give up on managing the “pubs and clubs” group charters that have been his livelihood for the past 13 years.
“Dealing with the bar was slowly getting to me too,” he says of the safety issues involved in looking after groups of 12. “I’m over the responsibility side of it.”
Aaron ran commercial trawlers for 12 years with Hartstones before setting up his own business, Megabite Fishing Charters.
Now he’s opting for an easier lifestyle with no pressure back on his farm at Te Pahu where he’s been based for four years.
Aaron’s a family man, with kids aged nine and 10. “I’ve missed a lot of my weekends (with them),” he admits.
Putting family first has been impossible with year-round charters which, although weather-dependent, have typically filled 10 hours of every day from October to December, he says.
People would book nine months ahead for a weekend spot, and his only regret on selling up is for those who’ve had their trips cancelled.
“I didn’t want to let anyone down,” Aaron says. However that couldn’t be avoided as Taranui changed hands earlier than he wanted at the request of the buyer.
Some bookings were offloaded to Raglan Charters, while Cloud 9 Fishing Charters provides another option for smaller groups, but Aaron says the only fishing he’ll be doing now is with his family in a little pleasure craft.