Friday, April 28, 2006

Te Radar: A salutary lesson in how to appreciate the wife

It was with a heady sense of nationalistic pride that I read of the magnificent maritime misadventure of two of our most intrepid seafarers, and their valiant near-crossing of the treacherous waters of Cook Strait.

The men, Ellis Emmett, from Cheviot, and Dutchman Sander Verbiest, (a modern- day Not So Able Tasman), were reported as having tried to cross the Strait in a rotten dinghy, with a single sail and broomsticks for oars.

Though roundly derided by many, they will rightly go down in the annals of this nation's nautical history. No doubt even Captain Cook himself would have been impressed with their efforts.

Such was the audacity of their endeavour that it prompted Picton policeman, Senior Constable Paul McKenzie, to remark, "It was the most dangerous thing I've seen. [It was] complete stupidity". With this kind of adulation ringing in their ears, I hope the men are feeling justifiably chuffed, despite the lamentations of those who consider their actions to be totally thoughtless.

Not only could they have perished, wailed the worrywarts, they could also have endangered the lives of those who would have been dispatched to rescue them.

Now, while I hold the folk who conduct these rescues in the utmost regard, it is worth remembering that the job they do, albeit rather heroic, is not compulsory.

If they no longer wish to risk their lives saving imbeciles from themselves then perhaps they should consider another occupation. Maybe they could become sous chefs.

The men's actions illustrate the odd dichotomy between the concept of the noble adventurer and the absolute moron. Many of the great adventurers of history were no doubt, when considered rationally, morons.

This country was founded on what were no doubt considered at the time to be rather audacious maritime excursions.

Into canoes shaped from logs people set out into the never-never. After who knows what privations, some finally arrived here to set foot on land, no doubt thankful to be off the canoe so they could finally relieve themselves without everybody listening.

As for Emmett's and Verbiest's waka, the 3.5m boat, for which they paid $200, was not a rotten dinghy but a very small yacht. Nor were their paddles constructed from broomsticks. They were shovel handles, they declared.

Speaking about the prevalence of these kinds of antics, National Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesman Steve Corbett said: "The problem is we have this incredible culture of thinking 'She'll be right' and disregarding the information."

I have a feeling that he didn't really think this was such a good national trait. I beg to differ. Were their actions stupid? Absolutely. Should they be saluted? Without doubt. What will they do next? Who knows, but I for one can't wait to find out.

And the reason for the trip? The pair said: "It was one of life's goals." And these kinds of life-challenging experiences, said Emmett, help to make you appreciate the wife more. What better reason could you have?

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