Monday 28 September 2020

Ordeal at sea

On Sunday afternoon/evening, September 20th, my younger 60 year old brother Billy was fighting a battle for his life. 

Billy was with his wife's brother-in-law, Charlie, and they were heading back to shore crossing over one of Australia's most dangerous bars. They were 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) from land — in rough seas. The boat was large enough where it wasn't legally required to wear lifejackets but, in hindsight, they sure wish they had been wearing them. Billy is an experienced boatie but, everything happened so fast, they didn't have time to grab the lifejackets or manually activate the emergency beacon. 

They were riding the top of a swell when it seemed to suddenly drop out from under them. This sent the boat precariously downwards under a huge cresting wave. The boat rolled and they were both thrown out into rough seas. The boat righted itself after the roll so the emergency beacon didn't automatically activate either. They couldn't get to the boat because the waves were immense and kept forcing them back. Their only chance of survival was to swim for shore. 

It took them about 30 minutes to get past the huge, crashing waves to what was still very rough sea though the waves weren't quite as high. It was getting dark and there were still miles ahead until they reached calmer waters. They knew their wives would alert the authorities when they didn't return at the designated time of 6pm for dinner but that was hours away. Darkness started to set in as they headed towards the lights on land. 

The next four hours were a battle to survive in a well known region for sharks — Charlie trying to stay afloat on his back with water constantly rolling over his face and then paddling slowly to conserve energy. Billy side-paddling so he could keep a check on Charlie and offering lots of encouragement to keep going. 

They thought they were done for but determination won out.

Four gruelling hours later, Charlie heard my brother's excited voice yelling, "Charlie! I can touch the bottom!". After being in the water for so long, working their muscles, it was even harder on their bodies trying to walk out of the water. They hugged each other finding it hard to believe they had actually made it. The first camp they stumbled into was a group of 18 year old boys who quickly gave them assistance — seats by the campfire, water, towels, and also called for the ambulance.

My brother's phone was at the bottom of the sea but the young men gave them mobile phones to call their wives who were frantic. Their wives had notified the authorities and 'search and rescue' were getting ready to go look for them. Thankfully, they rescued themselves so no need.

They weren't out of the woods yet though. Both were taken to hospital. Charlie's kidneys had taken a beating from trying to filter all the sea water he'd swallowed. On top of that, his Creatine Kinase levels were through the roof. A normal healthy male would read between 30 and 200 — his levels were 42,000! Creatine Kinase is an enzyme that the muscles release when suffering extreme stress or injury. CK can actually cause permanent damage to the kidneys usually ten days after the injury that caused it to release. Billy's levels were much better on the initial checks so he was allowed home the next day. He had a huge lump on his shin from where the boat hit him as well as bad bruising all around his torso. Both men were very sore all over after their ordeal.

Billy's CK levels started to rise again a couple of days ago so he was taken back into hospital and put on a drip to flush the kidney. My brother has only one kidney after having one removed due to cancer some years back so it's crucial that his only kidney remains healthy. His injured leg is now swelling up too so an ultrasound will be needed.

Charlie feels that if anything else had gone wrong during their ordeal, he wouldn't be here. He hails my brother as a hero for keeping him focused and encouraging him constantly with, "you're good, you can make it, just keep going, head toward the blue light, head for Inskip". My brother admitted to me that he nearly gave up the fight three times during the ordeal but Charlie kept him going so, in my view, they are both heroes. They are so very lucky!  
The boat was found and towed back by a trawler the next morning with everything still on board and the GPS still running. I don't like to think about how much worse it could have been for them. My brother and Charlie are alive and I am so grateful for that.

I will be more relieved when they are both fully recovered. 

Me with Billy at our Mum's 80th birthday celebration in 2015

Stay safe and well, everyone!

Monday 21 September 2020

Coooooo-eeeeee! I'm back!

Hi everyone!

So I'm finally back after months away from Blogland. It wasn't intentional. I don't really know why except I just lost the urge to blog or post in my Social Media platforms. I don't like Facebook so I rarely post there anyways. The state of the world and this pandemic weighed heavily on my mind.  While Australia has done reasonably well in the face of Covid19, there have been far too many losses around the world. It's heart-wrenching!  

I do need to get back into the swing of things though so here I am — finally! 

I've done a little sketching here and there but nothing worth posting.  I also managed a couple of acrylic pet portraits on paper during my absence. Aaron, my son, wants portraits of all his pets so I still have 2 more to do.

Meet Arlo, Aaron's Sun Conure
Sorry about the glare on the glass; couldn't be helped.

A few of the stages in his progress below

Arlo was painted with Acrylic Gouache on 360 gsm Acrylic art paper. 

Speaking of birds, the neighbourhood plovers have babies! There were 4 but sadly, there are only 3 now. Plover parents tend to inadvertently put their babies in harms way which is why their babies often don't survive. Out of four babies, they would be lucky if one makes it. The parents usually sit on the footpath beside the road and their babies go out onto the road and hang about there. Yesterday, I had to slow down two passing cars and warn them of the baby plovers on the road ahead of them. Thankfully, they slowed right down and the babies eventually moved onto the footpath beside their parents. 

The thing is that, when the plover parents see a car, they call out loudly telling their babies to hide —  and hide they do — by staying put and curling themselves up into a ball of fluff — in the middle of the road! And that seems to satisfy the parents. Thank goodness, those little baby fluff-balls didn't become flattened pancakes yesterday. I have been quite a worrywart over them whenever they are in our street. 

Not the best photo quality as it's taken from some distance away through a dusty window. Do you see the baby? Another one is nestled under the parent's tummy. You may notice the extra pair of legs if you look close enough. They were in our back yard. 

Again, not a clear pic, but this is one of the babies. It's covered in those sticky grass seeds. 

Then Miss Kya suddenly spots them and says, 
"What the heck is that?!!!"

Then settles herself on the windowsill for a closer look and some CatTV.

I'm so glad Kya is 100% indoors now otherwise I'd be a nervous wreck.

So that's it for today. I will fill you in over the coming weeks on things I did in my absence from blogging. 

Thanks to everyone who messaged and commented asking how I was. It's nice to know I was missed. I hope you all stay safe in these times of uncertainty.

On a side-note - It looks like Blogger is forcing us to use the new format. They took away the option to go back to the previous format. Not happy about that but it's a free service so I can't complain really. I'm grateful for this free blog. That said, I did try this new format a while ago and didn't like it because it was so sluggish and it took forever to upload photos. Hopefully, they've improved on it since then.