jet-ski v kayak (from Jan 21)

Noisy, smoking, dickhead fool

On your loathsome leisure tool.

– Michael Leunig (Ode to a Jet-Ski Person)

jet ski
Image from

Calm and peaceful.

Nothing but the swoosh of paddle-blades through the water.

The occasional splash-slap of a fish as it jumps from the depths, flailing briefly in the air, before flopping back into its safe space.

The call of an unseen bird.

The distant, distant hum of traffic … it may as well be another world away.

The distant hum, I said … why is it getting closer?

Gripping the sides of the kayak, desperately hoping we’ve been seen.

Cursing as the Jet-ski zooms past, totally oblivious to the fact it has just hit tranquility for six. (Not to mention, coming way to close to us, and leaving us rising and falling precariously in its wake.)

I have often wondered about the safety of jet-skis around other water users. The noise has always been annoying, but other than that they haven’t particularly worried me … until now.

Jet-ski person, selfish fink,

May your loathsome jet-ski sink,

Michael Leunig’s Ode to a Jet-Ski Person was just another amusing poem until I took my kayak out at Nelligen and had the misfortune to share a perfectly wide river with not one, but several of the infernal beasts.

The river is not mine, I do not resent other people using it as well. I do, however, abhor a lack of manners, nil etiquette and a total inability to follow rules.

Powered craft are required to give way to non-powered. The jet-ski people in question did not cut us off, or deliberately bear down on us as such, there was no illegal or malicious activity. However, having a jet-ski zig-zag in your direction and only veer off at what seemed like the last minute (although I do not doubt my distance perspective what somewhat reduced by fear) … well, let’s just say my life expectancy may have been shortened.

How much can you see ahead of you while on a jet-ski? How easy are they to steer? How quickly can they stop? How much damage could they do if … no, don’t go there.

I know there are ‘road rules’ out on bodies of water. On our lake at home, the rules are ‘keep to the right’ and ‘give way to smaller craft’. We tried to figure out the rules at Nelligen, but with powered dinghy, house-boats, jet-skis and water skiers being towed behind speedboats, plus a host of other kayaks all over the water weaving their tangled web … we were at a loss.

Kayaking is awesome! Sadly, on this particular day, it was stressful. In hindsight, we should have stuck to our usual haunt (which does not allow jet-skiers and appears to be frequented by people of a considerable more considerate nature) but we thought we’d try something new.

Chalk that one up to experience.

If you want to look up Leunig’s amusing ode, it is easy enough to find. If you don’t want a spoiler, stop reading now.

If you don’t care … Leunig’s jet-skier met his match with a shark. Oh, what it is to dream … not that I would want to be in a kayak at that moment though …


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