Five days and five nights in God’s back yard – part 1:

The anticipation and preparation are unbearable. I’ve been counting down the days from the beginning of December to our annual jaunt ‘up the river’ as it has now become known.

It’s bigger than Christmas in my mind. Yes, I have to do the family thing — eat three enormous meals, but it’s OK. I’ll swim every day and eat small meals when we’re ‘up the river’. And, oh, I won’t drink till happy hour!

This year instead of taking my own yacht, I’ve been invited to take a cabin on a friend’s 50 foot boat named Miss P. What luxury! But my deal is to bring some water sport toys. So dig out the kayak, the speed boat for wake boarding and noodles for lounging in the water. Preparation is everything. Make sure all the safety items and regos are up to date, check fuel, knee boards, wake boards. We don’t want any stress ‘up the river’. But catering is easy — left overs from Christmas meal/s.

“Adam, would you like to take some left overs?”

“Sure. How much can you spare?”

“How’s a whole ham, cold veggies, puddings, chocolates etc. etc.”

I’ve been known to refill the esky when Christmas lunch/dinner is over in prep for our jaunt.

Boxing Day brings relief. Since the shops are closed, all I have to do is arrange the toys.  We’re meeting on the 27th at my floating apartment (Miss P) at 3pm to set off at 3.30, leaving the morning free to hit the shops for any items not included in the Christmas oversupply.

At 3pm we meet at Miss P, load all the supplies and toys, and take off. No, not at a fast pace, even though this boat will do 25 knots, a leisurely 9 knots will do.

Oh quick. Don’t forget to download a newspaper to the ipad just in case I need some reading as there is little or no reception up the river, apart from the occasional text message morning and night to keep the world informed that you’re still alive.

After our leisurely arrival at Yeoman’s where we meet the other five already rafted-up boats we drop anchor with the sterns pulled towards the shore on stern anchors. This way we get a nice breeze over the back decks and little of the hot afternoon sun. Meeting and greeting with the friends we haven’t seen for a year but it seems like it was only yesterday that we were here. A few laughs and then it’s time for afternoon cocktails. Each year I bring the makings for a new drink for all to try. Last year it was Lime Caprioskers. This year I’ve decided on Pimms #1 cocktail after a friend made one a few weeks ago, which took me back to the Dorchester hotel in London.

As the afternoon and evening progressed and I found the last few hectic months washing away “It’s started!” I thought.

The next day we had a few comings and goings with day visitors being picked up at Cottage Point by speed boat, and an excuse to get my and nearly everyone else’s coffee fixes – “Can you get me a skinny long cap and a flat long white ….”  as it takes a few days for the caffeine fix to disperse and coffee bags on board to be sufficient.

We wait for low tide to hold the ‘International One Day Yeoman Closest to the Pin Golf Comp’ or the ‘IODYCPGC’. We’ve tried to build an acronym but it may take a few years yet.

This event brings everyone ashore with a cold drink in one hand and a sand wedge in the other as each of us takes turn to hit a number of balls the winner being closest to the pin (obvious I suppose). The comp finishes when either the drinks run out or the tide comes in. Either way we return to the raft up and prepare for a twilight dinner and, typically, an early night. We have been busy you know resting and the IODYCPGC!

The next day dawns with me not having been able to sleep. I’m still running  in normal life mode, so off for a bit of fishing for Whiting with my good friend and fishing teacher who lends me the tools to catch these fresh and easy (it seemed) fish. When we have enough, we return to the raft up where the fish are expertly filleted and cooked for lunch. Not being a real fish fan, I’m amazed how good they taste — just cooked in butter with salt and pepper. My mouth is watering just remembering the flavour.

Now the days get a bit foggy. Have we been here for two or three? Time seems to have stopped.

The weather starts to change. The forecasted southerly is due soon, so the worriers and smart ones start to prepare the anchoring to hold us in position or, if needed, make sure they have the knowhow to break up the raft-up safely. The southerly hits and the decision made to up-anchor, with each peeling off and heading for the next charming anchorage, namely, Smith Creek. This is a favourite of mine, being one of the best winter places, calm and away from everything. When you get there it seems strange. You could be in the middle of the bush and hours of travel away from civilisation, yet it’s only over the next hill! That’s one of the wonders of this hidden gem.

Again we anchor both stern and bows this time in a smaller group as the other have decided to tryJerusalemBay. The great thing about this event is that you can do whatever you want.

The decision to venture up Smith Creek at high tide the next morning has us on the kayaks and the tenders, so off we go along together with many others. Everyone is in the same frame of mind and we stop and chat with friends we haven’t seen for years. Invites go out for drinks and nibblies in the afternoon back at our boats. We return to the flotilla after venturing as far up the creek as we can go without running aground, but some get further than others due to the kayaks’ draft. The rest head back for a little relax or to get into some well needed maintenance — one is polishing, another is seeing where seawater is getting in (no need to panic just needed stern glands adjusted).

About 4pm (but who knows what the real time is), several rubber boats tie up to the transoms as we pool bottles and nibblies. New and old friends are made till about dusk when everyone returns their floating retreats. We go over who was this and that on into the night,

Now we’re staying up later and later and sleeping in longer, all of which maybe subconscious as New Year eve is coming up! Now I really have no idea what day of the week it is. When my hosts ask if I can pick up some day visitors back at Cottage Point, as always, I’m happy to oblige. Part 2 next month……..