Thursday, 19 February 2009 - 5:40 pm


Getting to the riverside was tricky. We had to be sure to avoid the Sharks – I referred to them using that name yesterday, and it seems to have stuck. We might have seen them off, and we might have gained some confidence, but we’re all far too bruised to assume that it’s over. None of us are foolish enough to think that they might not come after us to wipe the smiles off our faces. We’re not cocky enough to lose our hard-earned paranoia.

It was slow going. We didn’t bother with vehicles – we weren’t far from the place where Matt said he’d seen the boats, so we decided to walk. Or rather, creep, checking around us all the time, trying to walk along the edges of the road and stay out of sight. Sax needed support and a couple of the others were moving stiffly as well, still healing. I’m sore too, but not so much that I’ll complain.

We managed to avoid being seen, and we found several boats washed up on the scrap of riverside that Matt took us to. The jetties around here were mostly wood and had been worn down to useless nubs by the rain, their ropes burned through to set the tethered vessels free. The ones on the shore had been unlucky enough to beach themselves in their attempt at freedom, and we found a couple that were still lashed to their trailers.

We had to search them one at a time, boosting one of the smaller members of our group up to see if it was worth the rest of us following. A couple of the boats were full of water, and we quickly left them alone. There was hesitation over whether to try the ones that weren’t completely out of the water, until I went down and stuck the end of my broomhandle into the river. It came out with a soft sucking sound, but it wasn’t marked – no scores or burns. None of us wanted to spend any time standing in it, but at least we knew we didn’t have to be terrified of the river’s water any more.

We found one boat that was still dry inside, big enough to hold us all, and with engines that we thought we could get going. It was tricky work, mostly because the boat was listing to one side and I’m not familiar with boat engines. Sax wasn’t able to help me figure out the electrical stuff, but Ben gave me a hand. The others had to find a way to get the boat back into the water.

My hands are a mess of scrapes and broken nails now. There was a time when the latter would have mortified me. Now it’s just inconvenient.

The rain came before we had a chance to finish, but we should be able to get out on the water tomorrow. Sax is going to take a look at the radio on board as well, if he’s feeling better by then, as it should have more range than the hand-held one that Thorpe has. We keep checking, but we haven’t had any replies over the radio waves yet. Maybe tomorrow.