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... ;-)