I like snorkelling, but I’m certainly a novice.

For a start, squeezing my body into a wet suit can be a marathon business and far from a pleasant sight. How those stitches hold together I’ll never know.

And once I do make it to the water, it’s like someone gradually drowning.

Despite my best efforts, water inevitably gets into the goggles and rises steadily before my eyes.

a snorkeller

I’m on the surface spluttering and coughing more often than I am underwater – until I usually give up and head for the shore in utter frustration.

It’s probably inevitable, therefore, that one of my most embarrassing travel moments happened when Sue and I were snorkelling off eastern Australia.

The beach, near the northern New South Wales town of Port Macquarie, was deserted when we dived into an ocean pool known for colourful fish.

Sue is a natural and was soon weaving among rocky outcrops and swaying weed on the sea floor as fish darted around her.



I tried to keep pace, but as usual I soon encountered problems and was forced to surface several times to empty water from my goggles and tighten their straps.

Glancing around each time, I noticed that the beach was still deserted.

After several attempts to join Sue, I finally gave up in exasperation and decided to return to shore.

With my head looking down in the water, I managed to catch a wave ashore – stopping only when my chest and face ran onto the sand.

Lifting my head from the water, I looked up and realised to my horror that the beach was no longer deserted.

Worse still, unbeknown to me, a young woman had apparently sat on the sand at the water’s edge – and I’d swum ashore head first between her knees.


She moved backwards laughing; I rolled away apologising profusely; and her husband – quickly on the scene – gave me death stares.

And, to top off my embarrassment, Sue had surfaced just in time to see the whole thing – and was roaring with laughter.

That’s another place I won’t revisit!

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