We were due a planned power outage today from 9 until 3 so I did what any sensible deadline chaser does... nearly died of shock when Peter offered me a generator!
Instead I took the good ship Zoo on her maiden voyage - well in the semi-open ocean, off to take Richie and Norm muttonbirding... maybe.
I was a bit iffy about the weather and the Zoo's loaned little motor (and rightly so) and didn't want to go to Little Dog (the only place I've been birding)in her, but rather somewhere closer and more sheltered. Erhm. So I looked at the permit and Roydon and the Pascoe group are open order, and with a northerly would be quite sheltered, and it's a shorter run. So the galleon was transported to West End, whereupon ye pumping commenced. And went on.... and on. Eventually, 3/4 of an hour later having notably failed to get the galleon to the mark recommended on the pressure gauge, but having entirely exhausted my flat feet, and the little electric blower and the other footpump, we attached the little borrowed 8hp motor, loaded the spare 8hp motor, loaded uncle Tom Cobbly and all, everything from borrowed distress flares to small pocket elephants, and all and headed out. Roydon - the closer island, looked unlikely habitat, so we braved the next island over... the tide-race between the was choppy... (Richy says his armpits were dry. Must be great deodorant!)
And the motor stopped.
I wondered just how deep that scour channel was (yes we had TWO anchors), but fortunately the motor started cheerfully and with just one more hiccup we got ourselves in. Only for the first time out of the wind I needed to turn that way... to discover that having put the motor dead center on the steel bits on the transom meant it didn't turn to the right.
Fortunately inflatables aren't made of fibre-glass and bounce quite well. Nothing that hypalon paint won't fix...
The island has a lot of quail. Penguins. Cape Barren Geese... no muttonbirds.
And very very long grass. After an hour or so we gave up and set out to sea, having adjusted the motor on transom so now had that novel thing, bi-directional steering! and only with a minor cap-rescue incident... in the tide-race, when the engine stopped again. By now we're getting quite blasé about this and restart. The wind had got up a lot and it was a very wet run over to Roydon, which was very pretty but very bare of the birds. So we pushed the boat out (me having given it a re-foot pumping, just in case) and tossed the small anchor and pulled into deeper water... and pulled the starter cable. And (repeat 200 times, with suitable swearwords), and as the little anchor was not holding, put out the big anchor (which held fine)... and the motor started and cut out once on the way home. By this stage Dave is starting to really fancy electric starts... Anyway, we got the boat out, up drained and deflated in two ticks (so much time to fill, so little to empty), and went and dived some abalone, which at least had the grace to be there. I tried the 8mm wetsuit I got from one of the Ab divers... It IS the right size but we had an interesting moment when Richie and Norm picked up either side of the suit and lifted me clean off the ground to shake me into it. It's... tight. And I need some extra weights. It's not as warm (or soft) oddly as the 7 mm Peter picked up for me at a garage sale. I battled to get down (swim harder) and really struggled to STAY down, which makes Abalone diving ... interesting.
We got back five minutes before the power came on. I put the motor in a drum half full of fresh water to purge the salt and it started like a dream. Washing down the other gear... I noticed the foot-pump I pumped for 3/4 of hour... has a hole. And now I am very tired little writer, after all that walking and pulling and pumping and swimming against flotation... my writing is mediocre.
Barbs brought the post home... and we have our own flares now, and a copy of DOG & DRAGON for me to sign for a competition, for return via fedex... (from here!!!!!!) No sign of course of my copies. I'm tempted to say I'll send it when I get mine, butthat would be petty and punish someone who wanted to win the book, not the person who sent it sub-surface male with burrowing llamas via Baluchistan.
So much for the wonders of R&R . I am going to bed.