February 9th 1983

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
Maori war canoe – not quite the Hobie-cat we ventured out on, but nautical at least

We got moving early for once, determined to get to town + onto a catamaran before the wind picked up.  We even had to walk all the way, since they’re mending a bridge on the main road, so all the traffic was diverted, around the forest dirt road.  However, made it in good time at a stiff walking pace, + were accepted as first customers of the day by one of the hire companies on the beach.  Only when we were strapped into our life-jackets did we discover that we hadn’t brought any money with us.  Momentary panic, till Val thought of borrowing the money from Ivor + Wanda.  So I doffed my jacket + trotted along to the Sands motel – Wanda was very nice, + forwarded the desired $4.  So, a quick instruction in the art + science of cat sailing by the young feller in charge, which I’m afraid we understood only sketchily, + we were off.

It was most exhilarating, since immediately the wind filled our sail, + we seemed to be bowling along, the cliffs in the distance seeming to grow bigger every second.  So we very quickly had to try out the manoeuvre we’d had explained to us by a finger in the sand.  Rather to our surprise, it worked, + off we shot on the other tack.  And so we continued for half an hour or so, gradually becoming, if not the master of the wind, at least not its complete slave.  Both of us had a turn at the controls, + things seemed to be going well.  Until, that is, I thought we should venture put a little further.  All of a sudden, I don’t know why, we found ourselves square on to the wind, + one of our floats lifting up, up, up, out of the water.  “Oh no,” I yelled… over we went, laid flat.  Fortunately, our man had told us what to do – we swam around to the underneath side, + val climbed up onto the float, + pulled on the rope to pull the mast upright.  And it worked, first time… even if I nearly got clobbered by the previously airborne float coming down, + hitting the water with a bang.  I grabbed hold of the rudder bar, the nearest part to me – in retrospect a foolish thing to do, since in doing so I set in motion my worst fear – with the rudder over, we started sailing.  Val was up on the thing by this time, but I was hanging desperately on, with visions of being left in a cruel ocean.  I admit it – I panicked.  No stiff British upper lip for me.  However, all’s well, as the man said, + I was able to haul myself up.

Home James, + don’t spare the horses, I cried… but sailing boats aren’t coaches, + with the vagaries of the wind, it took us quite a while to get in.  I was cold, I’ll tell you – I imagine Val was too.  And the man was by no means sympathetic – tho’ he wasn’t censorious either.  Despite all, we enjoyed ourselves, + would like to give it another whirl.

We’d arranged to meet Mamie in town, so that she could show us over her friend Art’s boat, + tho’ we were late, she was too.  In fact, Art it was who did the actual showing off, since Mamie was busy, + he immediately put us to work, helping with the lines for a small manoeuvre – moving from his mooring to the dock.  I hate yachts!  The whole job went off relatively well, + Art certainly wasn’t overprotective of his boat, but there’s something about the emotions of the process.  However, we were rewarded with a glass of wine, + Mamie came along to take us back – in comfort, this time.  She even stopped off at a famous viewpoint we’ve somehow missed during our stay, which was really nice of her.

And then home, to all the chores involved in an early start the next day.  I made toffee (not so silly as it sounds – I used up our syrup) + we packed, washed clothes, even dismantled tent – there was an empty one on site we’d asked to move into.  By which time, it was just about time to go to work for our last night.  As befitting the occasion, it was dull + uneventful, like the vast majority of our evenings at the Cascade Motor Inn.  The nicest part of the evening was the presentation of a card + pressy to us both (with, I’m sure, Julia + not Marion as the architect.)  The pressy was one of Julia’s apple strudels – she knows how much I like them.

Tom had pushed us to have a party after work, in preparation for which I had stowed booze at his place.  However, when I arrived (Val was still working, but had sent me on ahead), the place was in complete darkness.  Funny, I thought.  I knocked gently, + received a grunted invitation to enter.  There he was, in bed, with his wife, no less.  He did have the grace to apologise – he was tired.  So I grabbed the booze, said goodbye, + moved on to 4-steps, Robert’s caravan – I knew Val would hunt me down.  Robert was nice enough to be welcoming, especially since he had his current woman on his lap.  There was, actually, another couple present too.  My first task, my purpose announced, was to remove all my clothes, (except my knickers) + ceremonially hand them over to Rob. He thought he might try his hand at wine-waiting, so could use the gear.  I had  no further use for it.  We sat (once I’d re-dressed in less formal attire)talking, joking, drinking, laughing.  Val, + Sherilyn too, arrived after a while, + also knocked back a drink or two.  Robert, I’ve decided, is alright.  I thought he was a right pain in the arse before, but now I reckon he’s alright.  Eventually, we said goodbye.

It appears we enjoyed our venture out into the bay on a Hobie-cat – my one clear memory is of the worst moment, when I thought I was going to be left in the ocean. Not my finest hour.

But it does appear that we are on our way at last, this being our final night at work. And if not quite the all-singing, all-dancing celebration that might have marked the occasion more splendidly, it seemed pleasant enough.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    I loved your description or your Hobie cat adventure! Glad you managed to get up on the cat.

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