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Tasman Bay Rescue


There’s no fool, like and old fool.

Last week, on the high tide, I set off wind surfing for just the second time this summer.  On my first outing, I used my learner board with a small sail.  This time I took my more advanced board with a big sail.  Conditions were ideal, so from my launching place at Best Island, I made straight for Oyster Island, off the end of Monaco.   I’d done this many times before, but not for a few summers.

The journey to the island was a bit of struggle.  Windsurfing entails hanging on with both hands.   My left arm became tired, and after a couple of dunkings, I became chilled.  The beach at Oyster Island was less than inviting. 

This was last Friday, which was cooler than those super-hot days earlier in the same week.  There was no recovery to be had by lounging in the sun, so I set off for home.  At least that was my plan.  

Chilled, weakened, and with a lumpy sea, I dropped my sail shortly after getting under way and then had trouble raising it again.  As I was attempting this, I noticed what looked like a large launch approaching.  I tried unsuccessfully to demonstrate that all was fine.  The launch moved in close.  It was the Haumoana, the harbourmasters vessel with, harbourmaster, Stewart Whitehead at the wheel and trainee, Hugh Pawson, on deck.


The Haumoana is a seriously purposeful craft.  Just over 10 meters long, super buoyant, super stable, and pushed along by twin 250 horsepower outboards.  (I digress, but I was impressed). 

Stewart asked if I needed help.  I did.

He and Hugh expertly lay my mast and sail across their low deck, with my board bobbing along- side.

I had no idea that we even had a harbourmaster, much less what he did. I’ve had to do a bit of google searching. 

Stewart ranges from beyond Pepin Island (Cape Soucis), to just beyond Monaco.  They bring order to the salty playground, that we share with commercial vessels.  That, during my moment of need, Stewart and Peter were at the extreme edge of their patch, and close to me, is remarkable.

Stewart gave me a survival blanket, (which I thought was a bit over the top, but wasn’t).  I continued shivering.  A survival blanket is a shiny silver gossamer sheet, that miraculously reflects back your body heat.  

Stewart and Hugh dropped me off in the shallows between Best Island and Bells Island.  Where I inexpertly got underway again. 

I made it back to base, and derigged my windsurfer.  As I was loading the gear into the Eyebright van, a police car turned up. Stewart must have notified the police that there was an elderly windsurfer, who’s safe return, was not a certainty.

As the police car drove away, I had a mixture of incredulity at all the fuss, but also grateful that I live in a country with safety nets.  The same sort of feeling I have when I received attention from our medical system.

Then I, discovered that my wedding ring was missing.  It hadn’t been off, for close to twenty years. But just as heat swells your fingers, so cold, shrinks them.

The moral to the whole debacle is ‘act your age’.  


That doesn’t mean sitting on a couch and watching TV, but it does mean, acknowledging that your past your prime, and there’s no going back.


Note to Self:   Tone down your adventures, lest you be a burden to society.

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