Just Junk But it beat the odds

In the dim light of the moon the crest of a breaking wave loomed for a split-second in front of me. Then it crashed into my chest. I swallowed a whole mouthful of the saltwater that hit me full in the face
Issue date: 12 September 2008

- Advertisement -

In the dim light of the moon the crest of a breaking wave loomed for a split-second in front of me. Then it crashed into my chest. I swallowed a whole mouthful of the saltwater that hit me full in the face. Soaked to the bone, tried in vain to grab my loose bits of tackle as the wave rushed past me in the dark. was sitting on my new Honda three-wheeled beach-fishing bike, up to the seat in foaming seawater.

When the wave pulled back felt the bike sink away under me as the wave washed the sand out from under its wheels. Trying to reverse up the beach, the back wheels helplessly spun and just dug deeper into the sand. was hopelessly stuck. With the engine miraculously still running, jammed my rod into the bike’s rod-holder, quickly dismounted, sat down and tried to dig away the wet sand from under the wheels.

Before was finished, the next wave struck and not only almost washed me away and filled up the holes again, but with each new wave the bike just sank deeper and deeper up to its axles into the sand. started to panic and not without reason. was all alone in the middle of the night, stuck well below the high water mark on a lonely, deserted beach in Mozambique. The danger of losing my new bike to the sea was real and to replace it again was beyond my means. With a rising tide and without the physical strength to pull the bike out, was literally up to my neck in deep, deep trouble.
Digging out n total despair could hardly believe how it had happened.

- Advertisement -

It was our last night at Pomene, where my wife and were camping with our old friend Jan Greeff. The fishing was lousy and hadn’t caught anything but pouters the whole week long. wanted to try my luck one last time on the wide open beach beyond the point with the ruins of the abandoned hotel on top. So without telling anyone where was going, took my rod and tackle and without a care in the world drove along the endless beach, where apart from the stars and the moon, there were no lights of any kind or any sign of humanity as far as the eye could see.

After about 8km came upon a nice gully in the flat rock ledges and baited up with a pouter fillet. Like any beach fisherman, followed the receding wave down the beach before made my cast, but unable to walk, did it on my bike. After the cast, with the reel still running, would flip the bike’s gearbox reverse-lever back and race away before the next wave could catch me. O n my first cast, my bait hardly landed when felt a terrific strike, but caught by surprise, missed it. With trembling hands baited up again, but this time not only made a super cast, but also made a terrible blunder. With the reel still spinning, waited till the last moment to get maximum distance, before reversing. But forgot to flip the reverse lever back and as I slammed the accelerator, I shot headlong into the oncoming breaker.

 Now, fighting frantically to save my bike from the pounding surf, I was almost at the point of giving up when I realised something. The reliable Honda engine was still running, although it had several times been totally submerged in seawater. If the bike could fight, so could I. Determined there was no way I was going to surrender, although up to my shoulders in foaming surf, I decided to continue to fight the sea until the tide turned. As an experienced ski-boater I knew the incoming breakers always vary in height and, while digging, I continually kept an eye on the sea until I noticed a lull in the waves. With renewed effort I cleared away the sand, stood up and pulled with what little strength I had left and continued to keep the wheels turning. The first small wave hardly reached us and inch-by-inch we crept backwards. Another small one gave us another chance.

As if the bike could see that high on the heels of small waves a foaming monster comes rolling in, it suddenly gripped the hard-packed surface and streaked backwards up the beach, dragging me along. Hanging onto the handle-bar like a monkey, I kept the juice flat-out until we reached the dune vegetation. With pockets and underpants full of sand, I got up, mounted the bike and reeled in my line. Suddenly I realised I had a fish and, judging from the bend in the rod, it was the big one I had come for.

When I fought it too hard and it cut me off on the reef, it became one of the few fish in my life I didn’t mind losing. What I saved was much more important. It was a freezing ride back and entering the camp, shivering and covered in sand, the Honda gave one last cough and stalled. Jan gave me a look and in his dry, unemotional way said: “You look pretty damp. Caught anything?” “Nope,” I said, “Only lost one.”