Beautiful morning. Sun’s just coming up, the bay is flat. A few hardy souls are running barefoot on the damp sand, their heavy breaths in time with the rhythm of their legs. I had totally forgotten that today is Remembrance Day. Nobody sporting poppies.
The water is calm. The breeze is light. It’s a perfect day to learn how to kayak.
I met Dylan – named after Bob Dylan, or so he says – the instructor and guide at the little shack across from the beached sailboat that’s actually a fish and chip shop. Also there is a fellow from France. I can’t tell you his name, he said it three times and it sounded to me like Bleah. That clearly isn’t right but I didn’t have the nerve to ask him again.
Dylan gave us a very quick outline of kayaking. Seems pretty simple. There’s a small rudder that’s controlled by foot pedals. You simply give the left pedal a gentle nudge when dipping your left paddle, and right pedal with the right paddle blade. It’s an easy way to keep your kayak going straight. I tried it for a bit and it’s very easy. “Once you’ve got that pattern down you’re all set.” Seemed pretty easy to me so we were off.
“One time I had had girl, she picked it up right away and was paddling lime a pro in less than an hour.”
“We’re going to a nice waterfall, should take about an hour, then we’ll stop for a coffee, then come back. It’s an easy paddle. There was this one time I taught a woman in her eighties. She loved it.”
So we were off, fighting a mild current and tide but it was easy to do.
Then Dylan started to talk. And talk. And talk. If you’ve done it, he’s done it twice. “My mate and I put a big-block Chevy engine in a Ford Fair lane. Wow, it was fast. Then another time we…”
And so forth. Once in a while he’d point out some ineresting trees or flowers, birds or fish, then back to, “There was this one time…”
Then in one of my paddling strokes the kayak listed precariously. “Perfectly normal, all new paddlers do that . To correct, do this…” flick of the paddle, ” and you’re back level again. There was this one time…”
I tried the technique and after some mistakes I had it down pat. Lean to the left? Quick flick and you’re good to go.
I saw a few fish jump and Dylan said gave me he name and… Whoops! Lean left, quick flick, solved.
“My mates and I fish for flounder here. Just have to watch for his puff of sand…” Crap. Another lean left. Flick, done.
Ah! The falls! Nice. Took some pictures, stopped for coffee, then back on the river.
Lean left. Dammit I was doing OK. Flick… flick… FLICK… Sploosh.
Over I went. First thought was my camera but it was in a sealed bag.
The water was only 2 feet deep, so no danger, just irritating. Got back in, SPLOOSH again.
I was totally not enjoying this outing.
“One time there was this guy…”
F**k off. Just shut up. Shut the f**k up.
Paddled back to our jumping off point. Me not happy. Me soaked. Chafing. Have to walk a mile back to my motel, chafe-chafe-chafe all the way.
So endeth my first, and daresay LAST, kayaking experience. Next time I’ll do something more enjoyable and less chafing. A root canal, I think, might be a better option.
Quick addition: I’m travelling to Christchurch tomorrow (Nov 12) and don’t know how much internet access I may have, so if you don’t hear from me in a day or two, fret not, I’ll be back as soon as I can.