This is a funny story written by a ski paddling mate of mine that I join for downwind paddles. Three of us set off for our first winter downwind run that didn’t quite go to plan.
It also highlights some good safety tips and how good those inflatable PFDs are. Adam and Mark were on skis and I was on my Zephyr OC1. I’ll let Mark take it from here.
Saturday 5:40pm – Adam sends a text suggesting a downwind tomorrow: 25kn SSW in 3m+ swell. Instant reply from Colin but he has to be finished by 10.30 so he can get to Perth for a christening. He is so excited, he gets straight on Facebook saying he is so excited he wont be able to sleep! I also responds positively after realising I will still have time to get to the St Kilda game in Subiaco afterwards.
Adam’s organic alarm clock (Sarina) does not go off and decides to sleep in.
Colin’s organic alarm clocks (Jess and Giaan) do not go off either.
I can not believe I am getting out of bed before 7am on a Sunday when it isn’t a race day. Rush rush rush … wait!
Load the boats from Doddis and come back home to pick up Helen (in her pyjamas and slippers coffee in hand) to do the shuttle run to The Cut.
Windsurfers, kite surfers, dolpins everywhere at the Cut.
Wind howling, seas choppy and yucky (I am thinking to myself, is the bed still warm?). We go anyway! Strap in and head out realising that I don’t have my PFD. Adam says, “don’t worry, you have a big green one” being the plastic Finn. I foolishly head out anyway.
Finally make it out to the groyne, turn and head for home. Within the first km, we are dodging kite surfers and lose sight of Adam in front. 3km in, Adam comes back to join us, are we really that slow that he has come back to check on us? He starts muttering something about his rudder not working and heads for shore.
I struggle my way north, even having trouble keeping up with an outrigger, so it is not a good day so far.
I finally spot the white caps breaking over the reef at Doddis, so go wide and heads toward the marker. A king wave comes out of nowhere, and I am all of a sudden falling forward over the front of the ski. Leg rope lets go way too easily. I come to the surface and hear the screams of laughter from the direction of the Dome (cafe on the point). Along with cries of “Did you see that idiot?” I flounder around for a while losing my favourite hat (that I wear because it doesn’t come off) and my favourite left shoe and also realise that my ski is out of reach. Getting to the point where I am going to have to let go of my favourite paddle and swim in.
Enter the hero !! All of a sudden Colin appears over the crest of a wave on his OC1. I think, ‘but that can’t be right, he has come from in front of me!’. As he paddles closer, I hope Colin can not see my tears of shame. Colin unstraps his self-inflating PFD and throws it to me. I put it on and pull the cord and up it goes. These things work!! Then my hero waves goodbye and disappears off to get my ski.
I am laying in the water, thinking to myself “There is no way Colin is going to be able to pull this off in these conditions”, “Where is Adam?” (We later find out that Adam is sipping cappucinos in a beach front property in Falcon. Probably with his shirt off.)
My hero returns with my ski in tow, attached to his leg rope. I am thinking, what is he going to do for me next? Do I let him tow me in, or should I at least make an effort and paddle? I go with the latter, and paddle.
Scramble on to shore, fall on to the beach and search desperately for the deflate button on the PFD. Boy these things are tight !!!
We set about the task of finding Adam. We think he is around Falcon somewhere. I find his keys, open the door and set off the car alarm, drowning out the gospel choir practising in the hall at Doddis. They look over to see me with my wetsuit pants half way down my butt crack and a bright yellow loosely inflated PFD hanging off my neck. My hero is calmly putting his canoe away and avoiding the man with the green ski at all costs thinking his job is done. Don’t know what he is worried about, he has a good 7 minutes before Julie starts screaming at him “You’re late !!!”.
I finally find the button to turn the alarm off, and re-arrange myself and head home. I dump the ski off, scream for dry clothes, grab my phone and head south to try and find Adam. Adam phones me from his beach front property and tells me he is in Spinaway Parade, Falcon. I find that this road is in two separated sections. I finally find him, he puts his ski on the roof, his shirt back on, wipes the cappucino foam off his lips and waves goodbye to his hosts on the hill. He gives me that “what took you so long” look.
I get home and defrost ready for part two of my day.
2.40 to 5pm: St Kilda restart their season by belting West Coast with their number one and two (Sarah) fans smiling, dressed head to toe in St Kilda gear in the stands surrounded by Eagles supporters.
Not such a bad day afterall.
My Lessons learned
- Keep an eye out for the guy behind.
– Don’t ever set out without your PFD.
– Don’t trust only a leg rope.
– Not everyone who takes their shirt off gets a cappucino.