"Good as gold" Meri

There is no cell phone or internet connection in the fjords, so fisherman have worked to have several VHF repeaters installed which gives some communication. For those further afield or offshore however SSB radio is required. Both these options are co-ordinated by a lady in Bluff who we came to know affectionately as "good as gold Meri'. She runs daily broadcasts with weather updates and check-ins on both VHF and SSB. We started communicating with her on SSB at Westport, and our evening check in became a regular routine way of letting someone know where we were and that all was OK.

Meri Leask has been broadcasting Bluff Fisherman's radio every day for the last 30 years from marine equipment set up in her kitchen. On SSB she has check ins from all over the South Island, mostly offshore fishermen, but also any visiting boaties, charter and cruise boats. A former deckhand on her husband's very successful fishing boat, she has first hand experience of the weather conditions around Puysegar and Stewart Island "I know how rough it can get out there with the unpredictable conditions in the southern ocean's sub-antartctic swells and until everyone is accounted for I can't sleep." It's a service she provides for free and has even paid for the equipment herself.

Meri can be contacted by VHF, SSB or email and provides up to date weather forecasts and passes messages between fishermen and their families. She has helped out with rescue operations providing information for the services, and has been honoured for her services with an award from the queen. We were tickled with her short daily chats with everyone - wishing one and all a "thank you for that" and "Good as Gold" and finally "night night, catch yous tomorrow" but it has been a pleasure to be included on her schedule knowing that she is keeping an eye on our position or even just giving ideas of places to visit - a real treasure!



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