On every Tour you have your Eureka moment when you realize that there is nothing else you’d rather be doing, and no one you would rather be doing it with. You are having the best time of your life.
On the Crocodile Tour, I thought my Eureka moment would come between Lion’s Den and Chinoyi on the drive back to Harare, after having set fire to the HMS Inedible. But my Eureka moment happened early on Day 3 on the leg from Binga to the start of the Chete hunting area.
We started paddling at 07.30 and incredibly, I was on time. And even more incredibly, we had the wind and the waves coming at us from behind. I know Kariba weather to be fickle and to change on a Tickey, but our tail wind blew us all the way to Sigarira hunting camp. It was glorious and we flew.
I had no idea you could use the words kayak and exhilarating together in the same sentence. Billy taught us how to ride the bumps, the small two-foot swells that were running with us at about 8 k.p.h. You have to paddle like crazy to catch the wave as it surges past you, and then you have to lean forward slightly as you crest, and then you get to sit back and just enjoy the ride.
With Jack Johnson and the Florida George Line playing loud on my speaker, Ryan and I were way out in front, playing like kids in the snow. It was such fun.
Until Dave Frank almost ran me over in his catamaran. Apparently Yachts don’t have brakes, especially when their main and jib sails are flying. I had to scamper for safety after Ryan warned me that I had a yacht looking to ramp me. I’m going to buy Dave Frank a foghorn hooter for Christmas.
Debate raged around our fire that night about who has right of way, sailors or paddlers and pedestrians. I don’t know my maritime law but I’m going with the biggest boat wins.
Ryan is paddling the HMS Penga – a 5.2 meter Cruze touring surfski out of Carbonology. It is a thing of beauty and incredibly light, mostly because it has no seat, just a bum-shaped hollow . Because he is a trail runner, Ryan’s bottom is soft and pampered and almost died on the hard seat. So I gave Ryan the seat out of my old Yellow Submarine, in return for all his jelly babies all the way to the Skeleton Coast.
I tried to do a similar deal with Mark Johnson, offering him all my instant oats on Tour plus my mothers top secret instant oats recipe, but got nowhere. Mark Johnson is a tough nut.
We lunched on the beach in front of the Sijarira hunting and fishing camp. It is the longest beach in Kariba complete with miles of golden sands and Pamela Anderson would have felt right at home, apart from the baobabs and the fish eagles. Overlooking the massive bay that stretches away as far as the eye can see, it is quite the prettiest bush camp I’ve ever seen. I want to go back there for weeks and not catch fish. I am a very crappy fisherman .
After lunch and a snooze, we had to paddle across the massive bay that stretched away in front of us forever. But with the kindest tailwind still in place, we made good time to our overnight camp in the Sengwe bay on the edge of the Chete safari area.
We paddled 33 kilometers today in 6 hrs 22 minutes, my longest paddle ever.
Mark Johnson struggled manfully all day, courtesy of a bout of flu given to him by Ryan. Which he has now passed on to me. What a load of bollocks. I’ve avoided the flu all the way through the Coronavirus pandemic, but am now paddling Kariba with a nose running faster than Usain Bolt. I know I will paddle all day tomorrow trying to figure out how much snot can fit in one head.
The Sengwe bay is lousy with crocodiles, but so far I’ve not seen a single hippo, apart from the one dead one, which is weird, like not seeing sheep in New Zealand. But I expect we will start bumping into them sooner or later, unless they are extinct.
We are paddling to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. Please help us help them by following the donate prompts on www.oldlegstour.com
Until my next blog from somewhere west of the dreaded Sengwa basin, enjoy and avoid being run over by yachts – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.
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