"Avast, me hearties!"

Somehow, we managed to talk ourselves into dressing up as Pirates for our Kayaking expedition in Middle Harbour yesterday. No, I really don’t know how that happened, nor do I recall how or why my Buccaneer name became Roger the Cabin Boy.

Despite losing my home-made cutlass on the way home in a howling gale on Friday night, I still turned up at 7.30am on Sunday morning complete with skull and crossbones Foo Fighters tshirt and a black eye patch… which, it turns out, is rather inconvenient when paddling into a headwind across shipping lanes choppy with the careless motorboat wakes of the wealthy. Stereoscopic vision is rather useful – Evolutionary Biology Q.E.D.

Between us we had two pirate bandanas, three eye patches, a stuffed parrot and a black eyeliner bicep tattoo of a Jolly Roger. Granted, nobody replaced a leg with a wooden peg for authenticity, but then we were more ‘ethos’ than ‘method’. 

The highlight for me of the 14km adventure was spotting three White-bellied Sea Eagles (a pair of adults and a juvenile, I think) perched in the branches of neighbouring River Red Gum trees about 15 feet above the water, watching a cormorant fishing. They ignored us with enormous dignity as we stopped to gawk and seemed politely unimpressed by our piratical attire. In fact, even the smart navy-blue clad patrons of the Echo Point Marina were universally friendly (or possibly it was pityingly amused) when we moored and squelched and dripped our salty way along their pristine boardwalk for brunch. Which was delicious. Nothing quite like a plate of eggs and bacon when you really feel you’ve earned it.

We were all paired up in double-kayaks and luckily on the way out I got to sit in the rear and steer with the rudder pedals while Richard provided the muscle power in the front. Full speed ahead. Of course, on the return leg we agreed to swap positions. Inevitably this meant I was in the front trying to have complete confidence in his captaincy and then squawking “Okay, maybe left a bit now. Left. LEFT. Go Left. Richard, left foot down, LEFT! We’re going to ram them! Aaarrrgghhhh… *fends off with paddle and calls out* Sorry, sorry. Okay, no, that’s fine, you’re doing really well, excellent, but possibly a little less power and a little more control would be sensible, just until we get the hang of it, what do you think? You’re much stronger than I am but its no good if I can’t keep up with you, we need our strokes to be synchronised for maximum effect, just like, you know… er, *blushes* well, never mind. Slow and steady strokes together, look, just like Tim and Lachlan, its not a race, wait, okay, maybe go right a bit now, right, to avoid that boat’s anchor cable, right pedal, right rudder, Richard, right, RIGHT, RIGHT! For god’s sake, go right! Aaarrrrggghhhh… *distentangling bows* sorry, sorreeee.”

He got the hang of it eventually and was a first class shipmate; it was like having my own private outboard motor 🙂 My puny arms still ached all afternoon, though.

Photos of our scurvy crew tomorrow – I frustratingly forgot to bring the download cable for my camera today. In the meantime, here’s a map of our route:

Key: 

S Start/Finish 

F Food (halfway break for brunch) 

X Sea Eagles spotted here

kayaking-map

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8 Responses to "Avast, me hearties!"

  1. pandemonic says:

    Pretty cool trip. Were you exhausted afterward? I know I would be.

  2. modestypress says:

    Now that Random Granddaughter is into pirates, she will have to fly down to Sydney so she can join you on the next expedition.

    Though there is something ludicrous about flying thousands of miles to catch a pirate ship. Unless she takes over a plane to Virginia and orders, “Head for Sydney!”

  3. What gorgeous birds! Sounds like a very bracing adventure.

  4. truce says:

    pandemonic – I confess that my arms ached for the rest of the day but, curiously, I felt invigorated by the adventure rather than exhausted by it. The huge plate of bacon and eggs helped 😉

    Mr Random – excellent, I will save her a berth. We may even be able to rustle up a parrot for her shoulder (or a cockatoo at the very least).

    waxingstrange – aren’t they wonderful? I’ve never seen such large wild raptors up close before, only the ‘tame’ ones in display flights. Amazing predators.

  5. I always feel excited when I catch glimpses of hawks around here, though they are not quite as majestic.

  6. OmbudsBen says:

    Sea Eagles! I’m very impressed. I saw one along the shore of Bali once. Very cool. I always feel sort of privileged when something like this happens.

    Piratry sounds like fun, too. Although you do not describe any booty you thieved. Anything you can tell us about?

  7. truce says:

    Waxingstrange – hawks are beautiful, too. I think its the relative rarity of predators, compared with the numbers of their prey, which makes each sighting so special.

    Ombudsben – yes, privileged is exactly the feeling I had when I spotted those eagles. As for booty – I actually managed to lose my cutlass en route, so I seem to have come away with less rather than pillaging more. Clearly I would have made a useless pirate.

  8. OmbudsBen says:

    What a pity. What the world needs is for Somali pirates to lose their weapons, not you.

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