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Published: February 12th 2019
My boat guy pegging it across the sand, having left me on the boat.
Today was a trip to remember, not for all the usual reasons.
I decided to go to Chicken Island, 300b plus 400b National Park fee. I’d been told there was a restaurant but picked up supplies from 7-11 ( note to self: if they’ve run out of hard boiled eggs do NOT buy soft boiled ones. They’ve been in hot water for 2 minutes only and everything is soft. They explode all over your towel and sarong when you tap them even gently). Otherwise it’s a great one stop holiday shop and has everything you could possibly need.
I bought my ticket, even though it had clouded over and started to rain a bit. It wouldn’t rain all day, for sure, and it cleared up before we set off. The boat was number 75 and there were 2 German couples, a Chinese couple with a little girl who was terrified of the boat and me. Once again all the others were going to the other island and I was the only one going on to Chicken. I hate that. Introduces a lot of unnecessary stress and the possibility of abandonment. We puttered over to and past Poda, which was
confusing. He took us round the back of it, not to the usual dropping off place. Then he stopped in the middle of the sea, not by a beach, and demanded the national park fee from all of us. I didn’t enjoy this one. We all looked startled. The last time the guy took it off me when we got to the island. What would happen if we refused? Would he throw us over the side? We all paid up. I was convinced he was just going to keep the lot, especially as he let the others off at the end of the remotest beach. This was a procedure in itself. He slowed the engine down so much we thought there was something wrong with it, and we limped in, literally scraping the bottom on the (dead) coral.
The others got out and at this point I nearly got out with them, but he said 10 mi utes and then got off too and left me on the boat. He disappeared right out of sight along the beach. The engine was running and after a while I thought about turning my data on and googling how to control an
longtail boat. When I was just thinking I’d give up and get off and wade to shore (having drifted alarmingly away fiom the stopping point) he came back and took me over to Chicken Island. In my solo state I was feeling quite sorry for myself, having nobody to panic with or make Plan B. Again he went so slowly, as there were rocks sticking out of the water and he had to go round them. I didn’t enjoy this bit either.
Tub Island consists of 2 tiny parts, connected to Chicken by a sandy causeway. When we got there people were wading across ankle deep. There are ropes with yellow buoys to mark a channel across. By lunchtime they were up to their mid thighs and when I left it was swim across only. Nobody was, it looked like there was no shade on Tub. The guy got off with me and the ranger was waiting right on the end of the spit to take the money, which looked to me very like 100b and not the 400b I’d paid. I walked along the beach on Chicken and found a great spot under a tree. There isn't a
huge amount of beach but there weren’t many people. The big swimming area was all dead. I snorkelled out to the rope and fish were eating the algae on it, poor things, there being no seaweed etc on the dead reef. A big variety of fish, but just isolated examples of each. Disappointing. Boat anchors have destroyed it. The restaurant was open and there are squatty toilets with the blue waste pipe leading across the beach and into the sea, not very far out.....
Although we’d all said 4pm the boat guy came along the beach at 3 looking for me. I held up the required number of fingers (not 2!) and he went back to his boat. It’s worth noting they are always keen to leave earlier than they agree. I’d was just thinking of relocating to the boat area anyway, it was good to know he was there. We set off back to Poda and the beach was beautiful, really hot but brilliant white and the sea is such a gorgeous variety of colours. I sat and chatted to one of the German couples while we waited, the other couple showed up but there was no sign
of the Chinese family. At 4 exactly the boat guy said to get on, we were going, and then they flew out of the trees at thes last minute. I thought they’d given up and gone back early.
The boat went much better as the tide was high, no scraping on the rocks BUT, when we got round the corner and he told us all to move to the seats at the back it was obvious something was up. It was horribly rough. I’m not sure at what point he’d have been worried but we all were. Water was absolutely drenching us all and the boat was rocking from side to side and slamming down, bigtime! I got out my towel and the Chinese guy and I held it open front of us to protect the little girl, who managed to stay dry. The rest of us were like drowned rats with very bad hair days. The relief when we got back after a really scary 30 minutes was enormous. I didn’t know whether to kiss the boat guy or slap him round the face. I trudged back sopping wet to the hotel.
Later, calm restored, hair sorted,
I went to the Last Fisherman for a large beer and the most wonderful fish burger. Don’t judge. And the sea was as calm as you like. The fecker. How very dare it!
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