Slice of Life


An occasional series of creative writings about observations of life and living in this region, provided by Write for Community students at La Trobe University. The Write for Community Group is open to all students and members of the community.

Don’t run over the blokes in the tinny!
By Karin Lukin

“Just 5 minutes,” he said. “You’ll need to take the helm.”

My role changed from convalescent in need of relax and recuperation, to deckhand and surrogate captain.

Easier said than done. I balked. But the captain needed a P-stop.

“Steering a boat is as easy as steering a car,” he coaxed. “Control it by pivoting the wheel. Find the centre, go all the way to one side and then two and half turns to the other.”

I gripped the wheel. “‘Do I go quarter to or half past?”

“What the f…does that mean? I don’t think of it that way. From port to starboard.”

“Oh,” I was decidedly dubious. My reluctant, “Ok but I’m trying to get a system,” ignored as his need became dire.

“You’ll be fine,” with another casual parting shot, “Don’t run over the guys in the tinny!”

Clinging even more tightly to the wheel I looked up aghast.

In the channel in front blissfully as yet unaware of impending doom were indeed four guys in a tinny, each with a tinny, their lines trailing casually overboard. Their tinny rode low in the water, gunwale nearly awash.  Surely they were overloaded?

They’d been out for a peaceful afternoon trawl, until now.

We were bearing down on them at a faster rate of knots than I liked, with me at the helm. Throttling back I searched desperately for a horn!

Ever so slowly, realisation dawned. They froze, mouths agape. Now aghast in their own turn, they watched me zigzagging towards them.

They watched me. Watching them. Industriously and frantically working the wheel from right to left. Port to starboard. Same as a car, or otherwise.

What were they going to catch on this peaceful afternoon?  No doubt they were going to catch a Red River Houseboat!

The bow of the boat yawed right, then left. They disappeared from view. We sailed past with an inch to spare into calmer waters and around the bend.

Calmer waters my foot!

A white glossy speed boat, the latest in luxury, trailing a skier roared down on us. He was not quite flat out, but not the mandated 4 knots. With a roar and casual wave, he disappeared behind and around the bend.

Wonder what his wake did to the blokes in the tinny?

I relinquished the helm with a great sigh of relief. I held no desire to captain for any longer.