There are few down sides to spending a lot of time on the water, but one of them has to be spending unexpected time IN the water. You can’t say “if” I fall in the water, but “when” I fall in the water. In other words, you have to plan ahead so that you have a safety plan, particularly when you have children or animals on board.

It was quite a while before I took my first unexpected dip, and it was on the sail boat. It was quite a high boat, and to get into the dinghy involved climbing down the side on a ladder. It could be tricky, but getting out of the water after swimming (or falling in) was trickier as you had to hoist yourself onto the ladder in order to climb back up. The kids are able to scamper up effortlessly. It seems “hauling ass” is only easy if you don’t actually have one. Needless to say, I was always very careful getting in and out of “Cherished Wish”. However, this particular day I had already made it into the dinghy, with the kids waiting to go ashore. As I reached up to grab the dog, I had 1 hand on the boat, the other arm holding the dog, the dinghy moved backwards, and the dog and I had to jump for it. At least it was summer and I was suitably attired for swimming. The dog, however, was not impressed.

The houseboat is much lower and therefore “supposedly” easier to get in and out of. Technically I can see the merit in that argument. However, in the relatively short time we have been on the houseboat, I have gone in twice.

The first time, The Adventurer had gone off somewhere with the dinghy, leaving me to contend with the kayak. It was a beautiful, sunny autumn day. Too cold for swimming, but lovely for a paddle, so as I had to go ashore to collect a visitor, I passed on calling for the tender service available through the marina and hopped in the kayak to pick her up. As I paddled over, I remember feeling quite impressed with myself and was feeling confident that I could be independent and not have to rely on The Adventurer to drop me to and from shore. Boat to marina? So far so good. Marina back to boat with passenger? Also good, although we did crash into a small barge on that leg, but that’s a minor detail. Got passenger out. Got bags out. I stood up, again holding onto the boat with my feet still in the kayak. The kayak (and feet) went off to the right while I hung on to the railing for dear life. My visitor and I were laughing so much, there was no hope for me. And while she quoted lines from “Titanic”, (you know the bit where Kate is on the raft/door and Leo slowly lets go…”No Jack, no don’t leave me”) in I went.

The 2nd time also involved the kayak. (Ah…I’m starting to see a pattern forming). The Adventurer was away and the dog needed a walk. Our mooring is less than 50 metres from a huge off-leash dog park. It is so popular, people come for miles so their dog can play here as it includes a big sand bar as well as a park. In NSW most beaches prohibit dogs even being walked on a leash, so there are very few places where dogs can really make a splash. It’s lovely waking up to the sound of dogs barking when they are playing and swimming, and not because their owners have gone to work and they are bored and locked on the patio for 8 hours a day. I got back from work, got changed and hopped in the kayak. It was a glorious winter’s day. Way too cold to swim, but the sun was warm on the sand. Doglet took off as soon as we pulled up to the beach, and I sat happily on the sand while she went about her routine patrol of the park. When it came time to go, I carried her to the kayak, popped her in and started to push the kayak out. As I got in, Doglet decided she hadn’t finished patrolling, and tried to get out. I half tipped, drenching 1 arm, but breathed a sigh of relief. I started to paddle and this time, she made a proper go of escaping, completely capsizing the kayak in the process. She took off and left me, drenched to the waist, to drag the kayak, full of water, back to the beach and to tip it over to get the water out. Not easy. It’s a 2 seater kayak and quite heavy at the best of times. Once back on the beach, I went after the naughty Doglet, but of course, she then decided that was a fun game, and took off through the car park. With no shoes and looking like a half-drowned crazy person, I gave up the chase and went back to the kayak and waited….and waited…

I decided to head back to the boat, rather than stand there and catch pneumonia. Then I could take the dinghy to shore and take the car around to the park with a torch as it was almost dark. As soon as I got changed, there was Doglet, on the shore, barking indignantly for me to come and get her! I was not amused.