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Skipper’s big mistake
  |  First Published: April 2012



Watch who you drink with at the Tin Can Bay pub.

There’s a better than even chance that, like Skipper, you’ll bite off more than you can chew. Or suck up more than you can spew. With the southerly swell we’ve had I’d say the Fraser Island dingoes are still eating well. But Skipper fell into a classic “try to keep up with the weirdo” and came second. Badly.

The night started odd for Skipper, as he was first to arrive at the pub, where we were staying for the night. It’s hard for everyone to coordinate getting away from work at the same time. Being self-employed, Boobs will be more than likely working. Being a teacher, Skipper will more than likely not be working.

Not that I’m against them. Some teachers actually taught me things, which is great, and a great advertisement for the occasional usefulness of going to school.

This particular weekend saw me, Boobs and Skipper heading up to Tinny to head through the bar for a crack at some reefies. The forecast was reasonable. Five to ten knots, the forecast said, which should mean it would keep below 20. Probably. Possibly.

Friday night we headed up, and Skipper, being the first one there, (I know, bizarre hey, with him being a teacher and all) he headed for the bar. Not the Wide Bay Bar, mind you. I mean the long one inside the hotel.

So while Boobs and I were making our way up from the south, Skip settled in to some quiet pots. Which is where he made his first mistake. He got waylaid by Old Mate. His second mistake was trying to keep pace with him.

To be fair to Skip, he did keep pace with him. Old Mate looked about 70. He said he was 40. He said he’d been a drover. He also said he been a deckie. And a university lecturer. And a sailmaker. And a gorilla? Or was that a guerilla? With his beer tonsils on it was hard to tell. He sounded like a ventriloquist trying to do a cross between Chewbacca and Steven Hawking.

The problem for Skip was that he may have kept pace with him, but Old Mate didn’t have to get up after 7 minutes sleep, go over the Wide Bay Bar at daybreak and fish all day. Skip did. Well, he had to get up after 7 minutes and cross the Bar at daybreak. The fishing bit he sort of didn’t get around to much. Unless you count chundering your guts up as berleying. So Old Mate could afford to go a bit harder. And he was an ex-commando. Or something.

Anyway, Skip doesn’t get the chance to have a quiet beer with other Dudds all that often, so it was a significant occasion for him. And he just wanted to have a few beers with Boobs, seeing as I was designated driver.

Trouble was, Old Mate wouldn’t take a hint and nick off. He just blithered on and on while Skipper got angrier and angrier. Skipper’s third mistake was to try to outlast Old Mate, so he could enjoy a good yarn with Boobs. From my position of sobriety, I could see that this was going to be a very costly blunder.

You remember that feeling you had when Dean Jones made the umpires tell Curtly Ambrose to take his sweat bands off at the WACA? If you’re too young to remember, Curtly was a cross between Glenn McGrath and a very, very, very angry thing that wants to kill you and bowls much faster than Glen did. McGrath bored batsmen out. Curtly scared them out. And Dean Jones made him even more angry. Silly Deano.

That was the feeling I had as I watched Skipper up against an irresistible force and it was at about this point I took a last masculine hit on my 7oz shandy, and went to bed.

About an hour later (that’s all it took) the two boys wandered in to the motel room. They didn’t take the direct route, more the orienteering one. Over and around the stairs, across the veranda handrail, through the front door, over my bed, over their beds, past the sink, back to the sink for a drink of water, then bed.

Sorry, half an hour of blithering drivel, then bed. There has to be some university tests that show a direct relationship between the length of blither before bed and the amount of gastric contents splattered the following morning. Which for us was not a pretty sight.

We did actually cross the Bar near daybreak the next morning, shortly after which Skip lay down on the front deck; only getting up to berley. I have never seen anyone so sick. If it wasn’t for the fact that we couldn’t move the boat more than 50m without him getting up for another session, I would have felt sorry for him.

As it was, we had to sit on one spot for six hours. We got a parrot and 117 baby snapper. Just as it was time to go home, he perked up. I mean he got better, and managed to take us back across the Bar. It was a bit rough. Luckily we weren’t burdened by any extra weight. Skipper had lost heaps of fluid, and of course, one 40cm parrot doesn’t weigh much at all.

Thanks Skipper. Maybe next time you try to match up with someone at Tinny, you’ll take some heavy reinforcements. Like Doughers, Stuffer and Pommers. Now there’s a team. Bring it on Tinny…

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