Pinky's Book Link

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Kayaking Catastrophes

Wyaralong Dam

“We’ve never done this before,” I said to the rugged-looking bloke at the kayak shop. “Do you reckon we can just watch a Youtube video on kayaking for beginners and we’ll be right?”

He looked us up and down dubiously. He grinned, pointing the eftpos machine at me, “Sure. It’s easy. Anyone can do it.”

The rugged man helped Scotto load the two kayaks onto our newly purchased roof racks and signalled us off with a wave of reassurance (which I personally felt lacked conviction, looking back on it).

Our first outing last weekend was to Wyaralong Dam. I was excited about the dam because I felt secure in the knowledge that there are no sharks in dams, there are definitely no crocodiles in Wyaralong Dam and there was no chance of drowning because we were wearing our highly expensive life jackets bought from BCF that very weekend so even if I capsized I’d be fine.

As we drove off the highway down the turn-off to the dam, I spotted the sign that told you all the things you aren’t allowed to do in the water. “Look Scotto!” I enthused. “No water skiing… good. I don’t want to be run over by a stupid water skier. No motor boats… good. I don’t want to be run over by a bloody motor boat either. No fires, no bringing pets, no swimming…

Why do you think you aren’t allowed to swim in the dam, Scotto?”
I asked, not really expecting a sensible answer from him.

“Maybe because it’s used for drinking water, they’re worried people will poop in it,” Scotto replied, squinting into the side mirror to make sure the kayaks were still on the roof of the car and not smashed to bits on the side of the road somewhere between Beaudesert and the mountain.

“That’s ridiculous,” I scoffed. “Surely animals and fish would be pooping in it all the time anyway.”
Then I made my big mistake. My naive curiosity once again led me down a ruinous path of no return.

I googled, “why can’t you swim in dams” and was instantly plunged into a dribbling fit of terror.

The reason people can’t swim in dams is NOT because of pooping.

Oh no, my dear friend.

I wish it was.

Oh, how I wish it was.

The reason people can’t swim in dams is because of … the dreaded, horribly incurable and lethal, Naegleria fowleri amoeba.

Who’d have suspected a microscopic creature capable of boring its way into your brain via your nostrils, lurks in Australian dams waiting for unwary swimmers and first time kayakers?

One drop of dam water in your nose could result in this menacing, single-celled critter feasting on your brain cells like a fat dog in a sausage factory.

You won’t believe this but Scotto still made me go in the water even after I recited my findings on the Wikipedia page.

In order to avoid the brain devouring, dam-dwelling organism, today we went to the beach instead and paddled up Tallebudgera Creek. This is a picturesque waterway known for its popularity amongst bull sharks who are attracted to the bream, flathead, whiting and dogs (which irresponsible people take swimming right beside where vulnerable people  kayak).

When I expressed my concern regarding a possible savage shark attack, Scotto informed me that bull sharks are “gentle creatures that are more scared of you than you are of them”.

But later, after we arrived home, I googled it and Wikipedia state that “the bull shark is known for its aggressive nature, and presence in warm, shallow brackish and freshwater systems including estuaries and rivers.”

When I read this extract out loud to Scotto, he ordered me to stop reading alarmist websites and said I am spoiling everything for myself and I’m going to wind up having nowhere left to kayak.

“Did you see any sharks today?” he demanded.

“It’s the ones you don’t see,” I thought to myself. “It’s the sharks that are hiding in the warm, shallow, brackish water.” 

A link to a story from a year ago where a girl was knocked off a kayak. Notice the similarity between her kayak and mine!
Scotto reckons that we go hiking in the bush where we know there are poisonous snakes, so what’s the difference?

The difference is that snakes can’t push you out of your kayak, rip your leg off and eat it.

My quandary is this. Should I risk dying from a malevolent amoeba invasion or do I expose myself to the menace of a ravenous bull shark?