Friday, 7 January, 2022.
As we older members know too well, “…you only learn by experience but the problem is to survive the experience….”!
Well, tonight, I set out at about 5.00 PM, for a 45 minute paddle upstream to that footbridge 250m past the end of Zollie’s straight. I arrived home at about 8.00 PM.
I was making reasonable time as I exited the straight when that heavy rain shower started. Not to be daunted, I continue upstream toward the bridge. Turning that last corner before the bridge I noted that from less than 50m to where I knew the bridge to be, I could not, due to the heavy rain, actually see the bridge but, not to be thought a ‘’chicken’’ I continued, turned at the bridge and set off for home.
At the top of Zollie’s I was confronted with an enormous outflow from that large drain on the Left; there was only about 40cm clearance beneath the top, and the top of water flow!
What to do? After a 10 second assessment – 10 sec was all it needed as I cannot stand indecisiveness (fool) – I went close to the exit of the drain intending to enter the flow parallel to the very strong discharge and let the current take me around past the difficulty.
Well, that was the plan! The first stage of the plan worked well, me balancing the boat and rushing toward the other bank. The problem, as I then saw was that the torrent had created a very swift upstream eddie near the Right bank and, that was what got me!
I rapidly found that I could not balance the boat and paddle against the eddie. The result was the I was pushed upstream and became jammed under a substantial overhanging branch. Now that was interesting; the water pressure against my back was very strong and with my legs about horizontal under the log, off went my booties; no booties then for the long walk home.
As I become more engaged with the underside of the branch, I abandoned my grip on the paddle and then hung onto both the submerged boat and the branch with my Chest pressed very strongly against the branch. All good so far but, after 15 minutes and continuing rain, I deduced that this could well go-on for longer than I might be able to hang onto the branch! I let go the boat which then headed upstream at a reasonable rate!
The effort to beat the pressure of the current and to climb onto the branch was actually quiet a stretch. It seemingly cost me about a pint of blood and took about 5 minutes. Success at last, gained the bank and set off to find a path to walk back to FCC.
For those that might follow in my footsteps, the golfclub Clubhouse is to the right but, me being me, walked, limped, to the Left and did a ¾ circle before I found an exit. Fortunately, near the clubhouse where I came across a golfer who kindly allowed me to use his mobile to ring my family who assured me that they would rush to my aid once the current TV serial had finished!
My daughter Sarah eventually arrived like a race driver and with screeching brakes, anxious to see if her inheritance had become payable but no, I was standing wet as a Shag, happily waiting in the rain at the golfclub.
Back to FCC. Strangely, in front of FCC the river flow rate seemed very slow so I assessed that even after about 90 minutes, both the paddle and the boat were possibly still upstream from the club.
I decided to test my theory and set off in my own boat to see if I could find the gear
I actually found my paddle just about under the Chandler Highway bridge and spotted Kevin’s submerged boat about 100m further upstream.
I’m happy to say that but for one very sore rib I survived ok but, more importantly, my watch seems to be waterproof!
Gary Flanigan, 7/1/2022.