A New Home, with a Swimming Pool

Finally there’s a little movement on the maritime front. My new career path as a shopping center painter included a 10km commute and the other day I went to put some gas in the tank of the station wagon my friends had kindly lent to me for the purpose. The $50 I paid at the pump barely moved the needle in the dashboard and then it hit me. I had worked five hours that day and that meant that two thirds of the day’s pay had gone to fill the well-lined pockets of the mighty petrol barons. Enough of that! Urgent action had to be taken.

Snell’s Beach, where my work is located, sits atop the ridge of the Mahurangi Peninsula, which overlooks to the east Kawau Bay, with Kawau Island and the Pacific Ocean under the horizon line as a backdrop. To the West set in a field of rolling hills lies the vast estuary of the Mahurangi harbor. A couple of the roads that shoot off from the little village’s main drag go down to the estuary and one of them terminates in a little parking lot with a boat ramp. All I had to do is drive Aluna back down the river from Warkworth and as soon as I entered the estuary turn left, throw out the anchors and I’d be living within a kilometer and a half of the shopping center.

Beatriz had flown off into a gray drizzling sky one Monday evening two weeks back. Since this was going to be my first solo maneuver on Aluna I was a bit overcautious and made sure I had everything in order before casting off the lines at the Warkworth Wharf. The motor screamed noisily as Aluna slid down the glassy river lined on one side with mangrove swamps and on the other with a steep bank with native New Zealand bush. After leaving the narrow riverbed and entering the much wider estuary Aluna’s new home was in sight under a pale white and almost full moon hanging heavily over a flock of leafless trees. I drove her just past the boat ramp with the idea of not interfering with any traffic that might develop in front of it. I dropped the stern anchor first and let out all the rode. Once at the end of it the bow anchor also dunked into the murky water. I quickly made Aluna fast half way between the two anchors and rowed ashore to go with still a little bit of daylight left fetch my friends’ car, which I had left parked at the shopping center. It turned out to be quite an adventurous undertaking. Darkness soon fell and the little path along the river all of a sudden disappeared from the constraint beam of my headlight. I had to climb over fences, up and down steep hillsides trampled into a moonscape by the grazing cows that claimed this territory as their feeding grounds, avoid those heavy breathing bovines when they came closing in on me with an oversized curiosity, extract my left sandal from a smelly pie of dropping those same four legged creatures had planted in the thigh high and by this time dripping wet grass, look up at the silver moon to orientate myself realizing that I was going in the opposite direction to where I should be going, retrieve my bare feet from a bed of thorny thistles just to mention the absolute highlights. But finally I made it up the hill and brought the car back down to the parking lot next to the boat ramp.

Now it was high time to think about some diner. While cooking something up though I realized that the tidal current in the creek I was sitting in was by now rushing out at quite some speed, rustling and bubbling under Aluna’s hulls. Popping my head out the companionway into the moonlit sliverscape, I realized with horror that Aluna was hanging diagonally across it. Of course, I had not yet hooked the bow anchor into its bridle! While trying to pull the bow anchor in to attach the two lines of the bridle it started dragging and before I knew it Aluna sat with her bows firmly aground on the riverbank with water gurgling around its underbelly. The tide was going down fast and soon it was clear that I was going to spend the first part of the night with Aluna tilted at a substantial inclination. I was hoping to be able to correct her position just a wee bit for the better by adjusting the bridle on the stern anchor. Unfortunately I had used a rope that was attached to the aft netting beam without any possibility of being adjusted. I grabbed a spare piece of rope and tied it to that bridle rope, with the idea of pulling it in enough to take the load off, so that I could untie the bowline and lead the rope to a cleat. The clove hitch I had used to fasten the rope I was pulling on with all my might didn’t agree with my plan. It slipped and before I had time to realize what was happening I had gone backwards, tripped over the tiller arm and head over heels splashed into the water. And the water was cold! And the current still strong! And my thick winter clothing was drenched and heavy enough to make it impossible to pull myself up the hull sides. A subtle surge of panic set in and in a flash I saw myself succumbing to hypothermia while clawing to the toe rails. But there was Alunita, gently riding the waters behind me. I had tied her up at the aft netting beam. All I had to do is swim back to her and do what I had done many times back in the tropics after my morning swim: Pull myself up into her using the outrigger arm as a leverage point. I was quite a bit harder to do with the dripping clothes and I almost managed to drive the outrigger underwater enough to flip her upside down.

There I was back up on deck like a horse dachshund that had just gone for a swim. Just to get all the wet cloth off needed all kinds of bodily contortions and the warm dry cloth I put on after rubbing myself with the towel felt really good and cozy. Well, I thought while continuing with the kitchen chores, there you have it, how little it takes to get into trouble on the water. Falling into the water like that while underway out in the ocean could mean a very fast passage to the rude realm of the netherworld!

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5 Responses to “A New Home, with a Swimming Pool”

  1. ananamous Says:

    Girl Gone!!!
    Me go back get girl NOW!!!

  2. Mario Says:

    Hi Beat, my mom’s here visiting and I showed her your site. She says hi and she misses your little chats when u were here. Hope you are ok and well and staying out of mischief.

    Rgds, Mario

  3. Beatriz Restrepo Says:

    Saliste librado muy bien. Cuidate mucho. I miss you 🙂

  4. kim Says:

    Be careful out there! I’m reminded of Glenn plunging in due to missing the reef he was trying to pole away from!

    In aikido you learn to equalize the weight put upon the feet; of course, this is obvious to you now! 😉

    Looking forward to seeing you again someday…

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