Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind [43]

By Mark Pearson

Tomakin Bay, 7th of May 2000, early. Fine conditions, light winds, 2-3 metre swell … just perfect …

The dripping jet skier swaggered over to me. He was only about 25, strongly built, his arms hanging out from his body like a body builder, but his wetsuit was quite obviously struggling to contain the developing gut.

“What are all those ropes on the canoe?”

“They’re decklines,” I replied, “they help you hang on to the kayak if you ever come out of it …”

“You heading up the river?”

“No, we’re just doing a short paddle down the coast.”

“Out there?” he asks incredulously, pointing at the heaving surf.

“Errr, yes… they actually paddle across Bass Strait in these …”

“Bass Strait! Mate, you can have that, Jeeesus … how far you goin’?”

“Probably just to Broulee Island.”

“How long’ll that take?”

“About half an hour.”

“Shit, a Jet Ski would get you there in five minutes!”

“I know, but we kind of just like being out there … and these are a bit quieter than that …” I nodded at the thing.

“You’re not wrong there mate!”