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Boating Adventures-as your rowing boat gets older.

Updated on November 14, 2016
The rowing boat in happier circumstances
The rowing boat in happier circumstances | Source
Friends fishing on Lake Gubu
Friends fishing on Lake Gubu | Source
The dam from the clubhouse
The dam from the clubhouse | Source
The sun sets after another day of adventure
The sun sets after another day of adventure | Source

As the sun sets to my left the lake tonight is like a mirror and the two mountain peaks, Mt Thomas and Mt Gubu are covered in cloud, creating an atmosphere of mystery and magic.

Earlier the call of a Fish Eagle had pierced the early evening quietness.

My fire burns brightly in the braai area I am reminded how important it is to sometimes just get away and rest one’s soul. This world that God created sometimes gets so frenetic that being in a place of peace and quiet allows regeneration to take place.

An earlier fishing experience had not produced the trout I had hoped for but plan B with Sosaties from Vincent Spar and some vegetables cooked in the micro-wave will do the trick.

The fishing had an interesting twist to it that somehow warns me that I need to take cognizance of my age and listen to the voice of reason that sometimes tries to whispers to me or comes more definitely by means of Audrey and Heidi: “be careful and wear the life jacket if you go out on the boat”, although I doubt this would have helped much on this occasion.

Getting my one man row boat ready with anchor, net, oars, fishing rods, camera and binocs all in their place it was now time to push the boat away from the shore while stepping aboard at the same time, a task that seems pretty simple! My unsteady legs and a moving boat complicated things a bit and so I managed to overbalance and fall into the boat wedged between the seat and the side of the boat. My bum was firmly pressed against the seat and my shoulders against the front side of the boat, my legs sticking up in the air

All this presented a bit of a problem as with my 90 odd kilos it was impossible for me to get out of this rather embarrassing position. All that was sticking out of the boat were my two boots as the boat continued to move with its own mind into deeper water. You could say that I also found myself in “deep water!”

My attempts at trying several times to lift myself out of the bottom of the boat and onto the seat proved to be totally fruitless, reminding me that for a month or so I have not been able to find my dumbbells and so did no arm exercises, either Audrey or Zak I think hid them somewhere. I can hear you thinking,” Who needs to look for a dumbbell?” Anyway I felt exactly how a tortoise must feel when it finds itself upside down and with little hope of survival.

An attempt to turn over on my side only made matters worse as water started to pour into to boat and I could imagine myself swimming back to shore while dragging the boat and trying to keep my camera, cell phone and car keys dry. I had briefly thought of putting them in a plastic bag earlier but then forgot. The life jacket now did not sound like such a bad idea after all.

Crying out for help did not seem like much of an option as one of the beauties of Gubu is its remoteness and only the Fish Eagle would probably have heard. Phone someone, a bright idea flashed into my mind but the only problem was who, and in any case my cell phone was in my camera case wedged firmly under my back. If only I could have reached it I could have phoned Audrey to get out of last year’s diary the water bailiffs number who could then have come to get me in his canoe. The thought of Robin towing me back was almost too embarrassing to think about but what other options would I have had, sea rescue or the South African Police Rescue Team?(not certain something like that actually exists)

Actually if I wasn’t so desperate it would have been a funny picture with the boat drifting into the dam, fishing rods and a pair of boot sticking out into the air. I had my hiking boots on as I forgot to but my crocs in, reminding me again that I must do a check list for Gubu:”remember to pack your crocks and your brain!” I did have a funny thought at that time:”If I am going to die here at least I’ll die with my boots on!”

At this stage I really did not know what to do and so remembering the example from Nehemiah that I had taught my students at East Cape Bible College yesterday:” When Nehemiah wanted to achieve the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem what was the first thing he did students?” Yes that’s right,” he prayed and fasted!” Fasting seemed like a strong possibility if this problem was not solved quite soon and that would definitely help with the weight problem, but I have to admit I have never really been much into the fasting scene. Perhaps if I had this situation would never have developed, it makes you think.

It did make me think, what was I going to do until help came? As I had my binoculars around my neck I could do a bird count of those that flew over me, in fact that could become an annual event like the ‘CAR’ count. It could be called the ‘BOAT’ count and every year they could start with a minutes silence for the birder was thought of it. Pretty boring however; one Fish Eagle, two Fish Eagles, one Pied Kingfisher, ten Hadeedas!

One good thought lead to another and having my note book and pencil to list any birds I may see in my top pocket and if only I had my plastic bottle that I normally take with in case of emergencies I could then have written a note and thrown it over board hoping someone would find it and send help. At the same time that was probably pretty useless as the bottle would have been moved by the same wind and current and would have ended up where I was. Anyway as I had not intended being out for very long I was rather inadequately prepared for what in fact could be a longer outing than planned.

It is hard to imagine any real comparison between my situation and that of Nehemiah but still, believing in God and his power, I prayed. Not knowing exactly how God was going to help me I remembered that the big fish had spat Jonah out on the sea shore that sounded like a good idea. Not seeing any angels overhead, only the Fish Eagle, I was at least thankful no Vultures were circling!

Knowing that God only helps those who make an effort themselves I then summonsed all my strength and pushing as hard as I could with my flabby stomach muscles and weak arms I launched myself up and halfway onto the seat in the middle of the boat.

The seat is made of plastic and is kind of reinforced with a plank tied on with some of my anchor rope and so as I nearly made it up I heard the plastic crack as I slid back into my very uncomfortable position from which to steer a boat, in fact no one had done any steering for some time except the current and the wind. It is amazing how far a boat can drift all on its own. Mind you it wasn’t really on its own, but you get my drift.

One last effort seemed to be called for before I tried plan B, I am certain there must have been a plan B, but I had not thought of it yet. Fortunately it wasn’t even necessary as my second effort of propelling myself into the air, I knew those back raising exercises I have been doing for the past few weeks would come in handy, resulted in me now hanging ,still on my back but no longer on the bottom of the boat across the creaking seat. With a mighty effort by gripping on the sides of the boat I now managed to push/ pull myself into a sitting position and thankfully the seat held. Thank you Lord, there is a God in heaven!

It took me a couple of minutes to recover before I began rowing to the creek where I was going to fish in the first place before my boat decided on its slight detour.

Did not catch any fish! Perhaps they were laughing too much. I wonder if trout have a sense of humour?

This evening I plan to try some fishing but perhaps I’ll put my waders on and fish from the bank, I did see a nice looking place this morning as I was birding. I do have a few stiff muscles today but perhaps I learned something from the experience – I really must find those dumbbells!

This whole affair does remind me of a week or so ago when Audrey and I took Zak (my grandson) down to the beach and after Audrey (my wife) had gone for a walk to the corner and back I did my walk in the opposite direction to the river. Tempted to go for a swim I wandered down to the water edge to feel the temperature of the water and to my dismay and embarrassment started sinking into the sand. As I tried to wade back to the side I simply sank deeper into the soft sand, now up to my hips. The only way I could get out was to throw myself forward into the sand and water and swim/crawl out.

The only trouble was that I had my towel and camera bag with camera in it over my shoulder and so I had to leopard crawl out while trying to keep my camera bag out of the water. As the tide was beginning to come in a surge of water came up the river and so a rather bedraggled wader/swimmer/crawler came onto dry land like a drunken crab caught in a dumper, grateful that no one had been watching and at the same time wondering that if I in fact I had not managed to get out I may indeed have needed help.

There was also the episode a year or so ago when going out on a double ski with my son in law Jonathan I fell off and only just made it back to the beach after battling with the rip tide for what seemed like an hour. The result was ending up with a visit to intensive care and a light stroke. Old age is bringing new adventures every day, some of a decidedly scary kind.

It all goes to prove something, but I am not sure what!




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    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 21 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      You've had a few harrowing experiences. It sure pays to be careful, but sometimes that is easier said than done. Hope that the next trip out alone is better.

    • Johan Smulders profile image
      Author

      Johan Smulders 21 months ago from East London, South Africa

      Thanks Jackie. Not really brave but perhaps a bit crazy, but what the heck-life goes on.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 21 months ago from The Beautiful South

      You sound a bit too brave Johan, you may be tempting fate! lol

      Thanks for sharing the adventures though, makes many of us feel a bit better about our misadventures!

    • Johan Smulders profile image
      Author

      Johan Smulders 21 months ago from East London, South Africa

      Thanks for the comment. It was scary when it happened but only funny afterwards!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      That was a very fun read, it would have been scary but since you were telling the story I knew you survived. I do have a chuckle thinking of you in that position and knowing but for the grace of God there go I.