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 Canoeing in Western Australia

Caught Short without a Skirt

by Peter Fitzgerald

© 2002, Peter Fitzgerald

My first paddle for the year and it resulted in the fastest, hairiest ride I have ever had.

It started nice and easy. I left the rowing club and paddled across Bunbury Harbour to the old powerhouse site when I notice a massive line of squalls coming in and since we have been having inclement, boisterous thunderstorms recently, I considered my survival option and that was to run for cover bloody fast.

The problem was that the squall was fast approaching from the west, I was on a lee shore, and the only real cover was the little beach at the naval cadets' beach. I set off with much haste, and I really did think I could cover the distance of
about one or so kilometres in time.

Wrong! I was about 250 metres from the beach and the wind struck with mucho GUSTO and I realised pretty quickly that I was in deep pooh. I mean, there was no way that anybody could have made headway against that wind at all.

I did a very quick turn about face and had no choice but to run with the wind. Now, I have much experience in downriver and all that, but that was the fastest and hairiest run I have ever had. My Sea Spectrum barge-come-kayak was surfing, it was hogging, and I had no skirt. The nose was under the water at the bottom of the waves and my support stroke was excellent. The wind was so strong that it actually ripped a ten metre yacht from its moorings.

I raced across the harbour, filling each time I surfed a wave. The lightning cracked and the thunder rumbled and somewhere in my tiny mind I whispered a prayer, "Please, I really don't want to swim today."

Today I read in the local paper that a three metre mako shark was seen in the harbour yesterday.

Regards, Fitzy..

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