Once a month over the last three months at Johnston Street boat ramp in Mosman Park, Michael has been meeting a group of friends to go kayaking.
At the first session, Michael had a lot of nervous energy as we were heading down towards the boat ramp. He had never kayaked before and he had lots of questions. When we arrived, he dashed from the bus and ran straight over to the gathering group. Being the social butterfly, Michael rounded everybody up and soon the air was filled with excitement.
The instructor got straight into the basics: how to don the life jackets, correct paddle grasp and how to set up the kayak. Michael seemed to be getting a little nervous, asking how far out we were going.
Soon we were at the waters edge; it was a sunny day with a small amount of wind creating a little chop on the surface. We jumped into the kayaks and pushed ourselves into the water. A little wobbly at first, Michael soon got his balance and was able to propel himself forward for a good four strokes before spinning a 360. (It was happening to everyone: a few strokes forward and then a pirouette.) We kayaked about a kilometre, stopping to play games along the way.
After negotiating a low bridge that throws the kayaks off balance SPLASH! Michael capsized. There was a rumble of laughter as his head broke the surface of the water and the instructors showed him how to empty his kayak and get back inside. On the way back Michael started to really get the hang of it and was leading the pack.
The second session was a beautiful sunny day with no wind. Michael was filled with confidence and paddled straight out, showing a vast improvement on the previous month. In a four-kilometre excursion, Michael led the pack from the offset, shouting and hollering all the way.
By the third session, Michael was keen to give people pointers and struck up a good rapport with another guy a couple of years older than him. We paddled to a jetty where we had a go at entries: being pushed off the jetty while in the kayak. Understandably hesitant to have a go at these on this occasion, Michael made a deal that next month he’d nail it.