DAY 109: White knuckling in the St Kilda Spinner Jet Boat

18 Dec

I DON’T think he’d appreciate this, but our skipper Darren cuts a bit of an Irwin figure. It’s the bounding around in kid-like shorts, the glee at other people’s alarm, and the impish way he stalks danger, then flips it on its back… or near enough.

“I reckon I could sink this if I kept trying,” he says to one fella, who’s expressing distaste at the sedate pace we’re leaving the marina. “We’ll see how cocky we are after a few waves.”

As soon as he guns the thing, we start smacking down on the water like it’s solid concrete. Like, eight tonnes of fuckin’ metal on solid concrete. My legs fly up in the air and drum back down again.

“Oh my god, the boat’s going to break up,” I think; but “ARGH!” comes out instead.

Darren spins around in his seat so that he’s straddling the back of it, chair dancer-style, and starts chatting to us about the specs of the boat: two 360hp engines that spit put 1300l/s; each weighing one tonne…

Problem is, the boat’s still going at around 30 knots. And he’s not looking. Not even peeking.

He beams in delight at our startled faces, then turns back around and spins the steering wheel violently so that we’re in a 270 degree skid which threatens to flip us onto the roof, but somehow doesn’t. The sea turns on its side, though.

“Physics,” I keep thinking to myself vaguely, as the aluminium construction is explained to us over a blasting Nova soundtrack. “Physics has me safe.” Meanwhile, a sick bag gets passed back.

Darren used to manage an indoor cricket team, but wound up buying the $420k spinner from a mate, who built it from scratch. There are only three in existence, all in Australia. He once jumped the boat three metres, but he’ll try not to do it again. “I knew I could open my eyes again when everyone cheered,” he says. After he’d picked himself up off the floor.

“The police divers don’t like it when I get too close,” he continues, slamming us down on another wave so that my vertebrae give a sharp scream of disapproval. “But I reckon if I make a big enough splash they won’t be able to see what I’m doing.”

Thirty minutes in, a shudder of white knuckle fatigue seems to be running through those on board every time we hit a wave sideways on and jump over it. Can it be we’re all piking?

“This is where we quietly cruise in and pretend we’re responsible members of the boating community,” patters Darren, tucking the boat back into the marina at a gentle crawl. There’s palpable relief. “We’ve just been out for tea and biscuits.”

Keeper? Sure, why not.

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