Captain’s Orders

There are some things you never expect to say:

‘Hello Wembley’

‘Damn it man! I need the launch codes’


But this weekend, I got to cross one of the phrases off the list.

To paint the scene; myself, Alex and Kat were huddled into an inflatable dinghy, motoring over to our friend’s boat for what would eventually be, after some minor drama, a lovely day of sailing. I was at the helms deep, or driver’s side, or whatever the nautical term is for operating the outboard motor. Alex was sat in the middle, and Kat was at the front. Also joining us on the voyage was a large, black canvas bag and some food and drink supplies for the bbq.

It was a 5-minute motor from the launching ramp to the sailboat, which factored in the slight chop-chop of the sea. At around the 3-minute mark, I noticed that the ever-present pool of water in the dinghy and had grown somewhat. It appeared that the small amounts of seawater that were splashing over the sides into the dinghy were beginning to get organised. To put in context, we were at DEFCON 2 – ankle deep water.

We laughed it off, as I held our course steady and true. A minute passed, and the volume of unwanted water had grown from a ‘meh’ to an ‘err’. I noticed the canvas bag start to bob about, and a loose sandal casually float between my legs, indicating we had reached DEFCON 3 – shin deep water.

The sailboat was still a minute away.

‘So, er, you may want to start bailing,’ I suggested.

Alex and Kat burst into action, splashing about in the water in a futile attempt to battle the rising tide. Although in fairness, from a distance it would have looked as if they were just frolicking around.

Thirty seconds away and we’d reached DEFCON 4 – knee-deep water, which was worrying as the interior of the dinghy was about knee deep. As I watched a packet of vegetarian sausages and the sandal escape over the side, I knew as captain, that it was time to give the order.
‘Abandon ship!’

My crew gave a salute, and leapt out, fully clothed, with mobile phones in pockets. The contents of the dinghy soon followed. The outboard motor then cut out and I prepared myself to heroically go down with the ship.

However, the jettisoned weight allowed the edges of the dinghy to remain just above the sea level, preventing it from taking on any more water.

I grabbed the emergency oars and skilfully rowed in circles for several minutes before the sailboat came to my rescue. I was thrown the bucket of shame, allowing the bailing process to commence.

I’d stared death in its ugly face, and won. Which was why it was left to Kat to leap back into the murky depths to retrieve the floating bag of vegetarian sausages.

Alien Vs. The Gnarly Nun

Lactic acid scorches my leg muscles. This must be how those Xenomorphs in the Alien movies feel like all the time. No wonder they’re always grumpy and up to mischief. My lungs feel empty of oxygen, as if all the air has drained from them. No matter how hard I suck air in, it seeps out just as quickly.

Up ahead I can see the shapes of Matt and Adam, waiting by the last responder, cheering me on. Their shouts of encouragement make up for the lack of muscle power I have left. A few more pedal strokes and I’m finished, managing to fulfil my modest goal of completing the Port Hills Enduro mountain bike race without a mechanical failure or crash. I clock in for the final time that day, and relief floods over me.

Enduro racing is a simple concept; you’re only timed on the down stages. The transition to each stage isn’t timed. This amounts to either pushing or cycling up to the stage, and going full throttle for a few minutes downhill. As I mentioned earlier, last time I rode the Port Hills Enduro, it didn’t go well, so this time I was happy just finish the course.

I won’t go into the biking details of each track, as it can get a little alienating (cleaver nod to the opening reference intended). I doubt many people care about how the link track between Pedal Fine and Radi Garden was a nice, loamy edition. Or how deceptively long the Bowenvale Bonus was.

However, what is worth mentioning is how gnarly the Gnarly Nun was. Just to be clear, I’m referring to a bike track that was the second stage, not a hard as nails woman of the cloth. Although I can’t help think that The Gnarly Nun would make an excellent B-Movie horror movie.

Anyway, when all but one of the marshals, an ambulance and the largest crowd is gathered around the track, you know it’s going to be an interesting stage. Similar to the aftermath of a car crash, crowds like to preempt the carnage and congregate where there is most likely to be an incident, which inevitably is the most technical section. In this case, a horrible collection of rocks and awfulness that we were expected to find a route through.

It’s amazing how a bit of cheering and ‘Yeah Boi,’ can boost your confidence levels going into a section. You suddenly switch from apprehension to whatever the emotional equivalent of ‘Yeah!’ is. You can bring all the dark chocolate and cranberry snack bars you want (and believe me, I did), but nothing will boost your energy levels more than a well-placed ‘Yeah Boi!’

So just bare that in mind when you see someone struggling through the 3pm slump at work. A well-meaning shout of ‘YEAH BOI!’ across the office will no doubt be received with appreciation. I just tried it then, and I have to say, it worked much better than intended. Everyone seemed to be jolted into paying attention.

Next Year Then

It’s always important to have a captivating image to accompany a blog post. Something that makes a potential reader think; ‘Ooh, I might read about that’.

All going well, it may even result in a ‘Like’.

So when I decided to enter ‘Peak to Pub’ – an event that involves a 2km ski through Mt. Hutt ski field, then a bike down the 18km access track, finishing with a 12km run to Methven – I decided to take a GoPro with me to film the experience and create a short montage.

‘If an image gets a like, then a montage gets a share’, as the saying goes…

The race is started with a shot gun blasted into the air, which provides an instant, attention grabbing opener for the action video. Then a 300m ‘sprint’ commences to your skiing gear. The use of the inverted commas is important as running in ski boots, through snow, at altitude, is hard. Harder than most people expect. So the initial flurry of excitement and energy is quickly replaced with wheezing and fatigue before most people even make it to the ski section.

The skiing is generally carnage, and I got a great shot sliding past other competitors who had lost their ski’s, or were chasing after their poles, or were lying face down in the snow not moving.

A quick transition gets you onto the biking stage, where you propel yourself down the gravel access track, gripped in terror that at any second you’ll get a puncture at speed, or go hurtling off the side at speed, or both… at speed. On the plus side, I managed to get some cool shots over the Canterbury Plains, with the blue sky meeting the dark haze of the sea.

The running section is where the fun really begins. It starts with a jaunt through a ‘dry’ river bed. Again, inverted commas completely necessary as at the time the river was in full flow, almost waist deep in places. But that was alright because after that it was a 6km run along a straight road. That was OK though because right after that was a jump into a river, complete with panicked swim to the net on the other side, desperately hoping that you’re not going to miss it as the current tries to drag you out to sea. That was tolerable though because you’re then light headed running through a root covered path, struggling to lift your wet, heavy legs over the numerous tripping hazards.

But then you’re on the home stretch, safe in the knowledge that despite the pain in your hips, the blisters growing on your feet, or the can of crap beer at the end, you’ll at least have got some decent shots for the montage.

Until you realise that you forgot to turn the camera on.


Ill Tempered Mutated Sea Bass

Zombie Vampires?

Meh, bit of a genre mashup, could be confusing.

Chainsaw wielding elves?

Well Christmas is coming I guess, but could be pigeon holed as seasonal.

Venomous, angry flowers?

Jumangji already nailed it.

It can be tough thinking up antagonists for horror stories. Now that I have completed the first draft of three horror novellas, it’s time to complete another three. The aim is to be ‘same same, but different’, so simple really.

Monsters are always fun, until you get to the bit about where they came from? How have they not been discovered up until now? What have they been doing on this time? Questions I addressed in one of the stories by just ignoring them.

Ghosts are reliably scary, but need a motive. Otherwise they’re just drifting about the place causing mischief. Like Casper.

Then you get the mentally deranged, unstable psychopaths who may be violently partial to swinging pointy implements about. Again, all good stuff, however people generally require dialogue which can be a bit tricky.

Normally at this point, I would lean on my extensive knowledge of horror movies for inspiration. Unfortunately, as a rule of thumb, I avoid horror, and scary movies in general, as they’re… well, too scary. This leaves me with my imagination. Some may say this is a good thing, not being influenced or jaded by what has been done before. However, when the best you can come up with is ill-tempered, colourful plants, you do start to question whether you’re in the right genre. Maybe I should just bring out an angry gardening book instead… like Day of the Triffids. Damn it!

Grow Your Own Kahunas

‘OK, I’ll go ask.’ I left Kat browsing the scarfs, and I went to speak to the shop manager. I returned less than a minute later. ‘I bottled it, let’s go’.

This was becoming a bit of a routine. For some reason, when approaching suitable shops to stock some Bitchin Beer Treats, I had a habit of either finding excuses not to speak to the manager, or ducking out of it at the last minute. Worst case, I would walk towards them smiling, but at the last second as they looked up, I was quickly turn and suddenly take an interest in a collection of classic bookmarks, greetings cards, or some other tatt that I didn’t need.

Not entirely sure why. Maybe it was a lack of marketing known how. Or Confidence in myself. Or fear of rejection. Maybe it was the same reason why I preferred Tinder over actually approaching girls in a bar.

Whatever it was, this marketing tactic wasn’t doing me any favours in the sales department, and once again I left a store with the same amount of biscuits that I had entered with.

Over a coffee, Kat and I discussed sales strategies, which essentially amounted to me growing a pair.

During this motivational this pep talk, we noticed that the café we were in was dog friendly, and would the perfect place to exercise this newly acquired ‘go get ’em tiger’ attitude. I turned and saw that there wasn’t a queue at the counter, and the manager was free. Perfect time to approach, once I’d just finished my coffee. I sat, taking short sips from the hot coffee, as I allowed it to cool to a more palatable temperature. The counter was still free. ‘Ooh, still a bit hot’ I said, taking another sip and placing the tepid coffee back down. I looked over at Kat, who just silently stared back unimpressed.

‘…………………………………………….fine,’ I stood up and with a box of biscuits under my arm, approached the counter. Kat watched from the safety of the table as I awkwardly stumbled my way through my sales pitch. I returned several minutes later with a grin on my face.

‘They bought a box’.

As I finished my coffee, we watched as the café manager instantly went out with a pack of biscuits in her hand, and sold it to a couple who were sitting out front with their dog. Obviously someone has a bigger pair of sales kahunas than yours truly.

Ten minutes after we left the café I got a phone call. It was the manager of the café asking if I had any more biscuits I could drop by. She had already sold two packets and thought she could sell a load more.

I’ll leave it to you guys to work out what the morale of the story is.