Saturday, 18 July 2009

Back to the River

Late this afternoon I took the kayak back to the same stretch of river on which I'd previously capsized. Since it wasn't a black moonless night, and as I certainly wasn't racing, there was plenty of time to stop and take pictures.





The spot I went for an involuntary swim is directly in front, by the far side of the the oncoming bend. Sorry about the poor quality of these pictures; given my proven stability issues I'm obviously not going to take our good camera with me. These were taken on my mobile phone, from inside a waterproof pouch.





This is also the site of one of Australia's greatest mysteries: it was just here on the river bank (about 25 meters beyond the mangroves fronting the water) that the bodies of Gilbert Bogle and Margaret Chandler were found in 1963. Which is something I'm glad didn't cross my mind when I was struggling in the mud and blackness ;-)

A really great documentary made in 2007 presented a very plausible solution to the Bogle-Chandler puzzle, suggesting that their deaths were caused by accidental hydrogen sulphide poisoning. Up until the late 60s there were a number tanneries and other noxious industries near hear, all of which discharged their effluent directly into the water. While the water quality still leaves an awful lot to be desired, during the years after the war it must have been revolting.

Paddling home was magic. My little kayak mightn't be the most impressive vessel afloat, but tonight as I remember drifting across water like glass, watching the water-birds settle down while the winter sun slowly moved beneath the hills, I wouldn't swap her for all of Cunard's finest.


The two most important women in my life were waiting on the pier when I returned. Miss Three is currently fascinated (read "absolutely obsessed") with sharks, and had doubted the wisdom of revisiting the scene of my earlier swim: "Daddy - are you sure this is a good idea?" It wasn't until she'd touched my hair and clothes to make sure they were dry that she really believed I hadn't tipped over again. I still don't think she's fully convinced I survived that night's dunking unscathed, and tonight's bedtime chat included a lengthy interrogation to make sure I hadn't held back any news from today concerning an unexpected immersion and a pack of ravenous White Pointers. After which she gave a fabulous demonstration of how to "be more careful in your kayak". Apparently hammerheads need to be simultaneously banged on the nose with one's paddle and tickled under their fins. So now we're all prepared... ;-)

10 comments:

Robert said...

It looks absolutely beautiful my friend.

Brian R said...

Yes, the Bogle Chandler mystery was top news at the time. I was at University and there was a lot of wink wink nudge nudge reporting for the time. Glad you kept safe. I have hiked in this area, beautiful. Your daughter's concern is lovely, must remember the shark advice if I go surfing.

Doorman-Priest said...

I think they are pretty good photos. I have to remind myself that it is winter there.

I only go near water when the sun shines.

Greg the Explorer said...

That is a well known and well respected mechanism for fighting off hammerheads among highly experienced divers- that your miss 3 is in possession of such advanced knowledge is awe-inspiring and impressive.

Alcibiades said...

Thanks for that Greg - but I don't think I'll tell her what you've said just yet in case she decides it's time to take her strategy beyond the realms of the hypothetical ;-)

gerry said...

My friend what is it about 3 year old girls and sharks.

My Eleanor (now 16) was mesmerized by sharks at that age, and insisted that there were sharks in the Susquehanna River in NE PA.

My family has a fishing camp there and she claimed to watch them from the floating dock. It is also approximately 300 miles upriver from the Chesapeke Bay.

The next year at four she claimed that the sharks had been driven away by dolphins.

There is nothing to compare with the imagination with a girl at that age. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Father David Heron said...

Nice post. And thanks for your support!

Lindy said...

What a great post! I love kayaking. It's the best way to get close to the water life without actually getting wet... well, most of the time. Sorry for your tump but glad you have such fine women back on shore to worry after you.

Lindy said...

What a great post! I love kayaking. It's the best way to get close to the water life without actually getting wet... well, most of the time. Sorry for your tump but glad you have such fine women back on shore to worry after you.

Lapinbizarre said...

Hope this long hiatus does not mean that you have vanished into a Jensenite deprogramming cell.