Yes, today was the day. This ultra-blue sky with the curly edged clouds and promisingly hot weather would be the day, the day I finally caught a mud crab. Sam was so excited he almost swallowed his tail in excitement. Saliva covered everything in sight. Yes, Sam was my faithful border collie. Off we went down to the water. It looked like a giant’s mirror. My tinny known as Mr Trusty was tied to the jetty, fuel in the tank, oars shipped, very nautical.
I fired up the outboard and glided smoothly into the main channel, straight across the only sandbank, luckily for us it was covered in water. Salt spray stung our faces as Sam barked at everything we passed. Occasionally he checked to see if I was still driving but the excitement really had him in its grip.
A few of our creek inhabitants stood on their jetty frontages, waving at Sam as he barked constantly, showing off. He was the big fisherman; he was going to chase stingrays. We meandered at the regulation speed through the main channel, sometimes veering off to check a hopeful spot for a crab pot.
We passed the last channel indicator. Ahead, at the edge of the creek lapped the cleanest sand in the world. Mr Trusty scraped into the sandbank. I untied the leaping fur ball that heaved up and back-ended me into the bottom of the tinny. I stopped my natural reaction short as I realised with relish that Sam had found our prey. We hopped out and studied the water. Sam, in full attack mode, disappeared into the mangroves. I waded after him, looking more like a waddling duck, as I fell over the trailing rope, bending the fishing rod that sprang back hitting my forehead like a well-aimed pool cue. I hit the water like a slab of concrete on a gurney. Grinning like a Barbary ape I turned my head to see the largest stingray in existence.
Suddenly, I knew where those creepy underwater stories came from. It is a proven fact that your life flashes before you when you encounter what promises to be the end.
I rolled over and that was the interesting part of my day. I had wrapped the anchor rope around my legs instead of the transom. Mr Trusty, not wanting to be associated with an idiot had tottered off to the outer channel and was in harmony with nature. I was still trying to get away from a monstrous stinger. All I needed at that stage was some fool to play the theme from Jaws and my day would be complete.
Did I tell you that my hound had a fetish for sticks? No, well that was what he dropped on my face; a thoroughly chewed, awesome smelling stick. Sam’s slobber threatened to overtake the tide in a race to drown his faithful master. His eyes had popped out, the tongue was doing a tap dance and all I wanted was the return of Mr Trusty and an embarrassing ride back home. I untied myself while Sam nose-dived to find his stick; the damn thing was so waterlogged. Finally, with my fishing rod held at arm’s length, I examined my catch. Thankfully the stinger had expired sometime earlier, probably long before I did a duck dive into the abyss. I retrieved Mr Trusty and hauled the dead weight of the ray into it.
We slunk back up the channel with our prize; Sam sniffing the salty air and me with a rag over my nose and tears in my eyes. Once they hit fresh air the smell of a dead stingray would peel barnacles off a keel.
The next morning, no crabs, they had found a quieter place to sleep. Oh well, Sam, tomorrow’s another day.