A woman’s point of view: Chapt 3

A woman’s point of view: Chapter 3
(No prawns were hurt, or caught, in the writing of this chapter)

By Saltbush Sal

The story so far…

I have finally convinced my husband to take me fishing; so here we are, up the creek in the aluminum love boat of discovery. I had dreamt of this day for a long time and had always imagined it as a romantic day with my husband. I had some wardrobe issues at the boat ramp, then it was off to set some crab pots. My duties were to learn to throw a crab pot properly, and gain the captain’s approval, while my new G-string bikini bottoms were migrating towards my tonsils.

Putting all that aside, the captain pointed the boat towards the spot where he would throw a cast net for prawns, and I would get to use the stick thingy on the boat motor to steer.

The adventure continues

We pulled up in a little side creek off the main channel to try for the elusive prawn. The creek was only about two metres wide, and the tide was still running out at a rate of knots.

“Ok,” said the captain, “get down here and I’ll show you how to drive the motor so that I can throw the cast net from up the front.

“Now, what you need to remember is if you pull the handle towards you, the back of the motor will obviously point in the other direction, and go in that direction.”

Hmm, I thought to myself; obviously!!!

“To rev the motor up, just twist the throttle gently like a motorbike, then there are only three gears: forward, neutral and reverse. Got it?”

Ahh yep… no worries,” I assured him, sounding a lot more confident than what I felt.

I took up my seated position, while the captain took up his standing post at the pointy end of the boat with the cast net in hand.

“Righto, now put the motor into forward gear, then very carefully twist the throttle, and edge forward slowly a few metres, then quickly put it into neutral and let the boat glide into position over there so that I can throw the net into the mouth of that little gully.”

“ Ok” I replied. “Umm, what about brakes?” I asked innocently. I thought this was a very good question, as he had not yet shown me where the brakes were. He must have been so excited having me on the boat that he just forgot. My feminine wiles must be working after all. How adorable, I thought.

Unfortunately when my misty dreaming eyes cleared to reveal the captain, he had a look of death, not desire, on his face.

“Brakes? Are you kidding,” he yelled. “There are no brakes!”

“What do you mean no brakes? How do you stop the boat?” I asked.

“You put it into the opposite gear quickly. It’s just common sense,” he said, only one decibel under the sound barrier.

“Oh yes, I see now. Not. Ok I’m ready when you are.”

There are a few things to remember before I continue with what transpires over the next half an hour that will put all into perspective. This is my first time in a boat, first time crabbing, first time prawning and first time in charge of a stick thingy with a motorbike throttle on the end of it, that is attached to a large motor which moves in the opposite direction to which you steer it, no brakes, and no “Forward, Neutral or Reverse” written on the little lever thingy to remind you which gear you are in. And, all the while the captain is standing on the front of the boat with a large net in his hand, and the creek is only two metres wide.

The captain explained that the net has to be thrown so that it makes a large letter ‘O’ when it hits the surface of the water to maximize the amount of prawns you catch.

I put the boat into gear and very carefully twisted the throttle to edge the boat forward. Somehow my “carefully” did not translate to the throttle. The boat lunged forward with the captain lunging backwards, quite gracefully I thought – but I was not silly enough to express my opinion at that particular moment. Captain landed on the esky and the boat landed up the mud bank.

“Oopsy, sorry honey. I’ll just pop it into reverse and have the boat off the bank in a jiffy.”

The captain gathered himself, and the net, but was too red in the face to say anything at first. He took a couple of deep breaths and muttered through gritted teeth, “That’s ok, just go a bit easier on the throttle. I’ll get it off the bank.”

Captain backed the boat off the bank and set the boat straight for me again.

“Now all you have to do is put it in forward then neutral, ok. It’s not hard!”

“I still can’t see why there are no brakes. It would be far better with brakes,” I mused.

Captain just glared at me.

I put the motor into forward and let the boat slowly move before putting it into neutral as instructed. The captain gave a mighty heave and threw the net into the water. I looked at the net, then I looked at him. He was mumbling something under his breath that I couldn’t understand.

“I thought the net was supposed to be in the shape of the letter ‘O’, that was a ‘J’,” I helpfully observed.

“That was just a practice throw,” he explained. “All good fishermen like to practice first, a bit like cricket bowlers.”

Mmm, ok. I could understand that…

The tide drifted us down the creek a little bit to where the creek was wider and lined with mangroves on both sides. I had left the boat in neutral, as I was certain the captain would not appreciate another swan dive onto the esky.  

He was still standing on the pointy end with his head down fussing with the correct position of the net in his hand, but when he looked up his head swivelled around to me and said, “Why did you let the boat drift? Now we are nowhere near the right spot?”

Fine!!” I said, which any male with a pulse knows is an early warning that he has just upset a female.

“I just didn’t want to put it in gear and have you sprawled out in the middle of the boat. I’ll just put it back into gear and take it back up, OK.”

By this stage the boat was no longer pointing up stream but was pointing towards the mangroves.

“Don’t worry about it now, just edge me into the mangroves here and I’ll have another throw,” he muttered with exasperation.

“Fine!!!” I said again. Second warning, which means as a male, you are now on notice.

The motor was clunked into gear and the boat went forward a tad quicker than I intended. Before I could say another “oopsy”, there was a blood-curdling scream from the captain and when I looked up all I could see was his legs.

The top half of him was a tangle of mangrove leaves, branches and cast net. I am not too proud to admit that I panicked. The thought of the captain’s ire was enough to spur me into action. I jammed the gear thingy in the opposite direction and throttled the throttle. The motor roared like a cranky loin and took off in reverse. Straight into the mud bank on the opposite side. I quickly put it into neutral as the propeller was chewing on the mud. I was watching behind the boat, concentrating on my driving prowess, all the time thinking that my passenger was still on the boat, when another scream from the mangroves got my attention.

There was a pair of legs hanging down from the mangrove branches that looked like they were frantically pedalling an invisible bike. Cue Benny Hill Show music…

The cast net wrapped around his head made him look like the bride of Frankenstein wearing a veil. I sat for a moment pondering this latest conundrum and what form of solution would be appropriate.

“Hang on,” I yelled to him and burst out laughing at my own pun.

Captain was far from laughing. He was swearing and cursing. Some of the swear words I had heard before, but some were new. I’m pretty sure he just made them up as he went along.

I banged the boat back into gear and very gingerly moved forward to get the boat under him. When in position, he was finally able to put his feet down.

“Now put the bloody thing in neutral so I can untangle the net,” he barked.

“You know,” I said, “this is a fine example of why this boat needs brakes.”

He turned his head to look at me, and I could see a large vein in his neck that was distended and pulsing. Sensibly, I realised that this was probably not a good time to talk to him about managing his blood pressure.

With one hand firmly on a branch to steady himself and the other untangling the net, he set about counting to ten yet again. I sat quietly, for a change, thinking this was the best thing to do in the circumstances.

After the net was freed, he again took over command of the motor and moved the boat back into the original spot that was free of mangroves.

“Right!” he said a little more sternly then necessary I thought, “last chance, watch and concentrate on what you are doing. No more mucking around.”

How could I tell him I had not been mucking around? I just could get the hang of a machine that goes in the opposite direction to where you steer it.

I kept the boat in neutral to avoid any other disasters, succeeding long enough for him to have a good try for some prawns.

His next few throws formed the letters C, L, and I.

“Bugger it,” he finally conceded and threw the net back into its bucket. Prawns:10 points, Captain: 0 points.

“Let’s go and drop the anchor, have some lunch – I could really do with a beer – then get a line wet,” he declared.

Lovely, I knew that the champagne lunch I’d packed would put a smile on his face and bring down his blood pressure. No chook sangers or beer today; he always has that, we would be feasting on smoked salmon pinwheels with a dill and lime aioli and a lovely bottle of bubbly.

He will be so excited; he will gaze at me lovingly and forgive me any indiscretions that I may have committed today. I just can’t wait to see his face when he sees this surprise… Sigh.