If you have not read the previous post please do before continuing; just click here Part 1.
So there I am, in my kite; I still have all my equipment, so that’s a positive. It’s not dark for a few hours yet, kinda positive, I suppose. I can still
see CD, which would be positive if he would look my way, damn him! Haven’t seen a croc yet, try not to think about that! Most definitely not cool.
The first hour goes by... no amount of arm waving and yelling yield any effect, the sun starts to dip behind the mountains, time is not on my side, but
hey, at least the river is starting to narrow as I get pushed further up by the tide. By this rate I reckon I will be within swimming distance in 30
min. All good, stay calm, don’t think about crocodiles, don’t think about crocodiles, don’t think about crocodiles. Holy F*#%k I’m well into croc territory
now, when my worst fear is realised.
The river becomes darker as the sun is lost behind the mountains and the first hint of sunset is cast across the day, when out of nowhere i feel a
sudden bump underneath me. A 2 mm kite canopy is no protection against a dinosaur lizard with an appetite, and with this in mind I did what any normal
human being would do. I went into a full blown state of panic!
I jumped out of my kite with only one thing on my mind, get the hell out of this river, swim to that river bank and do it now!! Now any rational person
would have stepped onto the sandbank, which was the cause of the sudden bump, and realised they were not being attacked by a crocodile. By this stage
I was neither rational or calm. I stripped off my kite harness, threw it away, threw my board at the sand bank, (take that sand bank!) and dove into
the water. Now if it was actually a crocodile and not a sand bank then surely the story would have ended here.
It is said that in times of pure fright and with a surge of adrenaline, people are capable of near superhuman feats. Well I was in a total state of narrow
vision panic with adrenaline surging through my veins, but super human I was not. I barely made it the river bank which was what we later measured
to be only 100m away, Exhausted I dragged myself up the mud; shaking, cold and now in a state of shock, I look up to see a local fisherman looking
at me with not a care in the world, stubby of beer in one hand, fishing rod in the other. He quips in true Ozzy north QLD fashion, “Geez mate, not
a good place to go swimming, want a beer?”
I manage to stammer out a simple question “could you see me stuck out there?” He responded with “Yea mate, I was wondering who you were waving to”. I walked
back up the river to where CD is now packing his kite down, needless to say I was not happy. CD mused to me “I knew you would make it back in!!” He
was watching my the whole time, but having too much fun to worry about me, it would seem.
I spent the night at a friends house in a warm bath drowning my sorrows with cold beers. I had given up my equipment to the belly of the river, gone for
good, so I thought. My learn to kitesurf experience ended as quickly as it started. The next day
we launched my mates tinny (little boat) and we set off up the river to look for my equipment. We saw the kite still stuck on the sand bank, thank
godness for that. “Look” my mate yells, “your board is just a few metres up the river beside the kite”. What great luck. We putt the little tinny gently
across the expanse of water that I so heroically swam across the day before, towards my kite and board, when all of a sudden my board comes to life
and slides into the water. A 2m crocodile sunbaking exactly on the spot in which I had been driven on to by the current, the afternoon previous. Talk
about a close encounter.
Amazingly we found all my equipment scattered around the immediate area on the mud banks, and after recovering it all, the reality of how lucky I was to
make it out alive sunk in. I promised myself then and there that I would not kite outside the shallow pond again.
This single kitemare taught me some important lessons.
- Know your limits - I had not put any thought into how to stop once up on the board.
- Only kite as far away as you're willing to swim home - sounds obvious but until you have to actually do it, you won’t give this simple rule much thought.
- Know how to do a controlled stop - this goes back to knowing your limits.
- Self rescue - the most important skill you can be taught and you need to practice with your own equipment on land, and in the water. You can find a
link to a great video on how self rescue here. Of course if you choose to learn to kite in Lombok,
Indonesia at What Sup? Lombok you will be taught this vital skill.
Self Rescue Sail