Whether you're a resident here on The Island or one of our many visitors, here's wishing all of you and your families a wonderful 2016 filled with an abundance of health, happiness and prosperity!
'Iron Man ' came to me in a flash shortly after last year's Anything That Floats event - and I owe a big thank you to Laura Franklin for lending me her old iron (which reminds me, do you need it back? I am pretty sure the water reservoir is full now...). Here's a couple of photos of 'Iron Man ' in action (including the propulsion system - more on that in a moment):
I began preparations a week or so ago, but then got to work in earnest a couple of days before the big event.
.My original idea was to use a cordless drill with a propeller to power the 'Iron Man', I even went into George to talk to the guys at El Shaddai Marine to see if they had an old trolling propeller lying around.
Despite their enthusiastic help (everybody likes a project!), it would have required a further trip to an engineering/machine shop to drill out part of a propeller shaft (and there was still a risk of burning out my drill). hmmm, just rock up to a machine shop, hope they're open and would bump my little job to the front of the queue? I didn't think that was likely on December 26th. So, I continued my hunt.
Why not try George Electric, I thought. Turns out they had a broken room fan that had previously used by a butcher to make biltong - I kid you not). It was in a jumble of stuff in the back room. R200 and it was mine. "But I can get a proper propeller and part of a shaft for R300 from El Shaddai," I exclaimed. "I was going to give it to my Dad," he said. hmmm, hard to beat that one, I thought. The best I could do was "Seriously, you're going to give him a broken fan?" But it worked, and we shook on R100. So out I went, smelly, greasy fan under my arm and bewildered wife looking up from her Ruzzling in the front seat (don't click on that link, I warn you - Ruzzle is to 2015 what Candy Crush was to 2014 in our household - it will consume you if you show the slightest hint of weakness!).
And then I whipped into Cash Converters on a whim. What's this? A cheap little mini-fan - even better! Unfortunately, that didn't really work too well when I took her out for a test spin on Dec 27th.
The good news is my secret 'Blue Bottle' or 'Water Bug' hadn't yet been revealed to the curious - and no doubt - bemused neighbours!
"What is this 'Blue Bottle' or 'Water Bug' you speak of that has now become your secret 'propulsion system' designed to tow 'Iron Man' swiftly through the water, ahead of all the competition and across the finish line to victory," I hear you ask. Good question. Maybe a couple of photos will help.
Here are some shots taken from early test runs of 'Blue Bottle' aka 'Water Bug' (as you might have figured out, there's some debate about the name...) on the morning of the big event.
We did get a bit of wind in her sails during the race, but at the end of the day, it took good, old-fashioned human power kindly provided by my unwitting (and lovely) assistant.
It was quite a mission getting both the 'Blue Bottle' aka 'Water Bug' and then the 'Iron Man' across the 500 meters of sand to the starting point. Turns out my little kayak caddy had a flat which didn't help. But we got there in the end, thanks in large part to help from Alison, James and our unknown local hero. Then we had to assemble 'Iron Man' in time for the 4:00 p.m. start...
So, about 4:15 or so, we get under way. Us and a bunch of rather ill-disciplined people of all shapes, sizes and ages who happen to be crowding our flight path - drat, foiled again!
How'd we finish? We were in the top 10. Just barely. We finished 10th out of 11. Despite taking it more seriously than most of the other 12-year-olds who entered. hmmm. Well, there's always next year! But we did receive the Booby Prize, so it was worth it (thanks to head judge and organizer Brian Gibson - I owe you a pair of crisply starched & ironed boxer shorts or a beer - your choice!).
Here are a few photos of 'Iron Man' at the end of the race - and then we had to slog home the 700 meters around the back of The Island and under the bridge. No wonder it felt like I did a marathon that day - clambering through the silty river after a 55 km hilly bike ride earlier in the morning really was exhausting, no kidding.)
Oh, but you might be glad to see that I've put the clothesline to good use!
Some thank you's: to Laura Franklin for letting me press her iron into service (sorry, couldn't resist), as well as for many of the action photos; our neighbouring holiday-makers, Alison Gaylard and son James, for helping me push, pull and lug the unwieldy bits of 'Iron Man' across the sand - as well as a huge thank you to the friendly and helpful young fellow from the village who lent me a hand while on his way to go for a swim off the rocks. I never got your name, but thanks a lot, dude! Oh, and, of course, to my little engine that could, Monica - you really are a good-natured trooper to put up with the antics I spring on you!
You can check out more photos from this year on the Flickr Album I've put together (43 more photos are being uploaded as I type this, so check back there tomorrow) - or previous years on this Flickr Album - or even better, get a bit of this history and see a couple of videos from some of the first events way back in the early 1980's.
There have been more bands from the village this year than I ever - so many, I can hardly keep track of them all! I am pretty sure that I heard one or two the other night - and there was another one out this afternoon (perhaps even two...). Here are a few photos from the Great Brak River chapter of the Verenigde Geref Kerk SA Brigade:
A decadent Christmas brunch!
A few photos from this year's Island Christmas Service at the tennis pavilion
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