The Doust Files – Albany Advertiser 24/5/2011

When I tell people I have a kayak the first question they ask is: “Do you go on the ocean?”

And when I answer “yes”, they then say: “What about the sharks?”

Inevitably I pull a face and say something like, well, they are always there and as long as I go out with a couple of mates hopefully they will take one of them before me.

This is a joke, of course, because with my luck I will be the first to go.

So far we have never seen a shark and I have never spoken to an ocean-going kayaker who has ever confronted a shark, had an argument with a shark, or done a property deal with one.

And if you are a kayaker who has, please, by all means, keep it to yourself.

The thing is, there is nothing quite like doing the thing you love and right now I love getting in my little boat and paddling like the devil as far as I can until my body screams.

I am rarely alone. There are others like me. We are always well prepared.

The night before we pack our water bottles, our muesli bars, our chocolate bars, our thermos flasks, load our boats on car rooves, wake before the sun, rendezvous at water’s edge and head out. One of our little group is not quite up to the packing and his partner makes up a sweet something for him but we shall not mention that his name is Steve.

Once on the ocean all else leaves, the rhythm of the paddle takes over. My eyes wander the surface, but more than anything I love watching the bow of the boat as it cuts through the water making its little white waves on either side. It mesmerises, hypnotises and whatever it was I was thinking of, ever thought of, ever looked like thinking of, empties.

I paddle, bereft of thought, eyes on water and coastline, arms and shoulders working as though in a trance and every so often I look up as a magnificent creature of the sky flies by. So far, not one of them has left a calling card.

Sometimes we stop, look around, give thanks, count our blessings, share a private thought or two, then go like the clappers again.

Even on a mad and ugly day there is somewhere to launch your kayak in the Great Southern. An estuary, a harbour, a river, and it is a rare week we don’t find ourselves on water, floating in flow with the great oneness that is the heart and soul of this, the water planet.

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