All my friends seem to be going on cruises. Big ships, beautiful destinations. While I love the idea of a cruise, loyal followers of the blog will remember I have a particularly irrational fear of gastro, especially vomiting. This has singlehandedly stopped me from even entertaining the idea of going on a family cruise. But this did not stop us from dipping our toes into the water of the cruising experience and taking on the challenge of our very first houseboat holiday!
With a sense of excitement and trepidation, we boarded our houseboat, raring to get cruising! But before they let us loose on the mighty Murray river, our instructor – Sam –– had to show us the ropes.
While Sam was teaching us the basics, we fired some questions at him. Without missing a beat, he answered them all. However in hindsight, it is entirely possible that Sam was a little loose with the truth. I suspect Sam is actually a sensational salesman who would be just as comfortable in a used car yard as he was in the loungeroom of our houseboat.
Here are just a few of Sam’s answers:
- “The river water is 100% safe to drink. In fact, it is just as good as tap water.
First of all, blind Freddy could see the amount of duck and pelican shit on the deck of the boat and work out how much of that is in the “100% safe” drinking water, not to mention the colour. Or the smell. Yep, that water is about as safe as picking up your drink in a bar after you have left it unattended for several minutes next to a serial killer with a pocket full of Rohypnol.
Thank God for our foresight in bringing 40 litres of boxed water on the boat to avoid contracting Murray Mouth or whatever the local equivalent of Bali Belly is.
- “Parking is a piece of piss, mate!”
If you mean the only way to successfully park is by going in full throttle, mounting a sand bar and ramming the riverbank with the same force as the Titanic rammed the iceberg then yep, “piece of piss”.
- “Nah, no snakes. In 2 years, I’ve probably only ever seen two snakes”.
I’m not sure if Sam measures time in the conventional way or in dog years because we saw a snake on day 2. It was as we were coming in to park. Let me tell you we went from full throttle forward to chucking the oversized paddle boat in reverse so hard we possibly burnt out the clutch.
- “It’s great weather for swimming. The temperature of the water is exactly the same as the outside temperature”.
Again, I’m not sure on the units of measurement Sam was using. Whatever they are, how would Sam explain my son suffering from hypothermia throughout his body while simultaneously getting thoroughly sunburnt on his face? Not the same temperature, Sam.
- “The toilets are a bit sensitive”
No shit, Sam. No, really. That is what you should tell people.
Do not under any circumstance use the toilet for the purpose it is intended for or it will block up. And smell. The heady, aromatic smell of sewer mixed with river water (you know, that delightful brown water that is 100% safe to drink?).
- “The boat absolutely does not rock”
You’ve got us on a technicality there, Sam. You’re right, it does not rock in the traditional sense, but there is a definite horizontal swooshing movement that sees the boat move several metres from side to side, making it impossible to find your centre of gravity.
It was after enjoying a night of this regular “swooshing” that we returned the houseboat to its moorings (full throttle all the way in until we launched onto the bank), packed the car to the rafters with all of our sleeping bags, pillows, clothes etc and with our stomachs still swirling, set off on the drive home.
Eager to get home, my husband helpfully suggested we take the quicker route home, otherwise known as “the back way”. Otherwise known as Gorge road. Otherwise known as the windiest road known to man……..
Y’all know how this story ends, don’t you?
Ten minutes into the journey there was groaning and complaining from the back seat. I sprung into action, dispensing Chuckeez sick bags and lollipops. By the time we reached the Big Rocking Horse, we had to pull over so that the 12 year old (aka Mr Sensitive Stomach) could sit in the front. That meant I was now crammed in the back with my youngest son (aka Stomach of Steel: nothing fazes this one), and the Leaning Tower of Pisa of luggage between us. Ignoring the continued groans now emanating from the front seat, Mr Iron Stomach declared he was starving. So we fossicked through the leaning tower until we found a pack of BBQ shapes, which he started to demolish quite happily.
It wasn’t until I realised the snacking had stopped that I looked over the top of the leaning tower to see the sheer horror on the face of my youngest offspring.
While Master 12 was sitting pretty in the front with his three sick bags and lollipop, his brother had regurgitated nearly an entire box of biscuits into nothing but his cupped hands.
This was a vomit explosion of epic proportions.
Luckily our travelling companions pulled over to help and between us, my sister in law and I managed to mop up the mess with packets of wet wipes and towels, just enough to get us home (windows down all the way).
The next day as I was drowning under a pile of washing and the toxic fumes of car upholstery cleaner, I reflected on our houseboat holiday which was – despite the small setbacks – truly sensational. I even laughed about Sam and his gift of the gab, his skills akin to a used car salesman. Which leads me to the point of this post: if you’re in the market for a new (used) car, there is a fantastic Holden Commodore for sale. Lovingly cared for, comes complete with its own unique smell from the back seat. If you need any more info, please call Sam……