The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Part 2

Day 2


Da got up at 0600 to pee. Well I don’t think he even had to wake up as he never slept. I’d dozed on and off, even at one point sleeping on my back. An almost unheard of phenomenon.

Dad did his usual, rolled over onto me, kicked off the sleeping bag, took cramp, rolled back onto me, eventually made it out of the tent, peed, took cramp again and made it back to the tent.

We feasted on bacon, soda and potato bread, washed down with the little packet cappuccinos, that have the annoying tendency to coagulate when you add hot water forming little, submerged coffee croutons that surprise you like a fly in your drink. The flies in the cappuccinos weren’t a surprise at all.

It was sunny. This took us all by surprise. The lough was like a mirror. This also took us by surprise. Instead of the plan of cautiously hugging the shoreline up the west coast lough, we abandoned sense and reason and set off straight down the middle for the top left of the lough.

We could see as far as the land went, from the shadows of the mournes behind us to Divis at the north east and Slieve Gallion on our left. Lough Neagh was a little oasis of blue sky surrounded by clouds. Huge, billowing clouds, stacked up on each other like hay bales in a barn. Great big James and the giant peach clouds.

I felt like something out of Lord of the Rings, or Narnia. Simon said he was listening to Sigur Ros in his head. That type of a scene.

We had lunch beside a graveyard, where a cow was drinking out of a motorboat. As one does. And it was then the wind began to pick up. It was then I started to get wet.

On the trip we have a proper kayak, with skirt and all the rest. Designed to take a bit of chop. We also had a Canadian style canoe. The lime green wonder boat pudge the first as she’s been christened.

Pudge isn’t really designed for chop. More for keeping my Da busy with redoing the wood bits, or for cows to drink out of in graveyards. It may, at a push manage a drift down the river Bann.

There was at most a foot and a half swell. A bit of chop for a lake, but nothing wild. But if felt like that. We were broad siding a lot of the waves, up and down the crests and troughs. We were on our knees in the canoe, largely for balance but the occasional petition along the way.

I doubt there was ever any danger of death or even injury. But there was definite danger of getting pretty wet and losing a barrel or two.

After an hour of this we began to settle into the routine of zig-zagging to and from the shore, to avoid broad siding on the bigger waves, or worst of all, when a shallow sand bar would push the swell up into breakers. We made almost 3 mph. Not bad considering. I have no idea how many knots we were making. I’m not even sure we were supposed to make knots.

In the end we made Ballyronan marina for 4pm. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and the crowds were out to see us. Well, what I mean is that the crowds were out to see the sunny Sunday afternoon and happened to see us.

And so we got the first wash in two days and realized how burnt we’d got. (Despite the factor 30 we’d all applied religiously Liz.) We’re staying in a campsite, conveniently placed right beside the marina and yes – a Chinese restaurant. Oh how I have missed monosodium glutamate.

It is 9pm. All three of us are in bed. There is a three year playing with his trike outside the tent. Must be well past his bed time…

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July 2007

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