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Friday, June 05, 2009

Swimming, anyone?

Now that we have fitted a heater, the weather has taken a sharp and distinct turn for the warmer. We are sweltering in the high twenties (celsius, low eighties 'F) with barely a breeze to cool us down. If this is what the heater did for us, it's worth every cent.

The water temperature, however, is still in the mid teens. That's enough to keep Gesa and I out of it but the little mermaid on our crew is keen to get wet.

Here we are in Smuggler's Cove, a gorgeous anchorage consisting of three or so pools, each a couple of hundred meters wide and joined by narrow channels. You enter through a rock channel barely thirty feet wide, with nervous looks at chart and depth sounder on the way. Once inside, we anchored the bow and took a line back to an eye set in the rocky shore, there's not really enough room for us to swing to our anchor. The setting is magnificent, wooded rocky islands and a network of trails within the park. We have fun exploring.

In the late afternoon, the kids want to go to the 'beach', a rocky slope of pebbly beach covered with barnacles and oysters. Issie is adamant she wants to swim, Max merely wants to take his toy boats. We put Issie into her wetsuit and Max gets his swim shorts just in case he wades in a little further. He has a regular habit of forgetting how long his trousers are relative to the depth of the water.

On the beach, Max plays happily whilst Issie dips a toe in the water. Er Daddy, can you swim with me? No fear kiddo, you're on your own today. She walks out until her knees are covered and stops. Daddy, I don't like all the barnacles and crabs around me. The bottom is crawling with hundreds of tiny crabs, I'm not too surprised she's wary about them. Why don't you go in from the dinghy where it's a bit deeper and you don't have to put your feet down? OK.

I push the dinghy out a bit into deeper water and she hangs her legs over the side. At this point, Max wants something and I help him out, at the same time he takes off his T-shirt, it's hot in the sun. I look back to Issie to find her still hanging off the dinghy, face fixed in concentration and muttering to herself. 'I can do this. I am a mermaid. I can do this' she says quietly under her breath, not realising I am watching. Looking up, she sees me, paddles her legs a little and comes back to shore.

Clearly deciding she needs support, she attempts to enlist Max as an ally. 'Look Max, there's a great place for your boats here, just swim out a little with me'. He's not entirely convinced, but wanders over and into the deeper water. Before I know it, he has nonchalantly flopped down, swum a few strokes then stood up and gone back to playing. No big deal. Issie, still there in her wetsuit and goggles, has run out of options but is still not quite willing to jump in. She plays a bit with Max instead.

Time to go, but she's still telling me she wants to swim. OK, so why don't you swim towards the boat and I'll follow you with the dinghy and pick you up when you want to stop. This seems like a good idea so Max, still unnecessarily nervous about deep water, puts on his life jacket and sets off. I shadow him with the dinghy and motion to Issie to follow. Wait Daddy, wait, I'm not quite ready. We go through a few loops of this before Max and I have to turn around and go back to get closer to where she is. Eventually she jumps in, swims about four strokes and then is lifted into the dinghy. Max could have been at the boat by now but has been hanging around and is cold, so he comes in too, shivering a bit, poor chap.

Back aboard, we have showers and get ready for dinner. Getting changed in her cabin, I hear Issie talking to herself again.

'Phww. Now I know what they mean by cold'.

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