So what were the highs and lows of the trip?
The low point had to be tipping over off Burleigh Heads. It was probably good that it was a few kilometres out to sea so I did not get caught in the surf or the rocks. It felt very isolated though, as there was no other silly bugger out in that stuff. No doubt it will be part of the book, where I can explain the anxiety, the struggle and the exhaustion after 45 minutes of battling to get everything back together. It was probably good that it happened because I never broke the new rule I made at the time: "No sail at sea."
Shark sightings made for an adrenalin rush and some concern but for sheer exhilaration the close encounter with the whale tops the list. Paddling along quite peacefully there was a very loud noise just behind my left shoulder: "Thrrrrwhooooofff". "Phaark!" I yelled instinctively as I turned my head. There was a whale less than two paddle lengths away. People have asked, "Was it a humpback?" Who knows? Who cares? It was grey with white bits, and barnacles, and it had given me the fright of my life. It took a very long time before my heart stopped racing and the image is etched in my brain forever. You just can't get this sort of experience unless you are out there and are vulnerable. It was interesting that the whale came up from behind, but certainly it was just curious and wanted a look at the top side of this strange yellow thing.
The article in Water Engineering incensed me and you have seen some of my response. Maybe this is the turning point though. Maybe the board of Engineers Media will realise that they have failed in their duty to us, the members, who pay our dues and expect more for our money. We certainly do have some major problems in our media and our infrastructure delivery. I believe it all stems from the disempowerment of engineers in the process. Long term, sensible, scientific evaluation has been replaced by political expediency and a growing number of subservient engineers happy to be subjugated by the process.
How does the body feel? Indestructable, strong, fit. But there is a slight negative side. There is a bit of soreness especially in my crook shoulder. Because of the hard work with the rudder at sea there are strange callouses on my feet that remind me of what I have done every time I walk in bare feet.
I do hope the support guys enjoyed the trip. I think they did, and I will always be grateful to them. Without them we could not have done it. Together I reckon we have made a big difference.
Would I do it again? I doubt it, but it was certainly worth doing once.
I am looking forward to the paddle across the harbour to the finish.