Thursday, September 13, 2012
On the Tiller
I know how to do this. It is late afternoon and the wind is up. I turn the dinghy in a long arc into windward slop and watch for Old Salt to gather himself. I point the boat for the paperbarks. He doesn't need to flick directions at me as he stands amidships but still he flicks the back of his hand towards the shore. A digital Rosetta stone for lesser folk. It's me at the tiller. I know how to do this Old Salt, I think as I roar up to the paperbarks, lift the motor when we hit the shallow coral grounds, ease the throttle. I can see another little boat moored in the flooded trees, its rope threaded through branches, the outboard out of the water and tilted to the right. The dark flash of a solar panel through the forest and a smudge of campfire smoke above. I work the tinny along a bit. There's a boat in there, I say to Old Salt. They'll run into our nets tonight if we set there. Get closer to where the afternoon sun bleaches the trees to ghostly white, full lock to the nor west, pull the gear astern, full lock to the south east, straighten up, back in the boat to where the big old bream lurk. The mountains are a blue grey bruise on the sky. Old Salt fiddles with the tangled buoys. Our wake arrives, shwishing against submerged trees and onto the sandy shore. Then it is only the cawing of jaded crows, the thump and crack of the swell outside the bar, the soft throb of the motor as we play out nets. The mushroomy scent of nets and sweet flowers over the water. A sentinel sea eagle lies above me, watching.