collaroy 14 missing booee

Usual suspects atwitter

Above: Glistening Dave's photograrphic essay from Collaroy @glistenrr

Collaroy, Sunday: Rescue parties have searched into the night for a missing marker booee that repeatedly absconded from its post at an ocean swim on Sydney’s northern beaches today.

The missing booee, coloured bright yellow and made of light vinyl, was placed at the northern end of the Collaroy Ocean Swim 1.5km course, shortly before 10am.

But as soon as it was placed in position, the booee ran away, taking advantage of a stiff, southerly breeze.
Search crews used motorised rescue craft to chase after the booee, returning it by force to its station, although slightly out of its original position.

Witnesses said they could hear the booee resisting.

“Clearly, it did not want to come back,” said one witness, northern beaches swimmer David Helsham.

“It was chilling. The marker booee definitely was agitated. It had hyperventilated and was all puffed up from its escape.

“I was out there kite-surfing at the time. I couldn’t quite see it, because the sun has this effect on the area around me when it hits my wet head. So all I could hear was the sound.

“It was yelling, ‘I am not a marker booee. I am a free inflatable!” Helsham told

“OMG, srsly, it did not want to come back. It was definitely forced back against its will.

“It was #bloodcurdling.

“I don’t ever want to hear the sound again of a marker booee in distress.”

He added: "#lol."

But as soon as it was placed back in position, the marker booee ran away again, egged on by an even stiffer southerly breeze, aided by an anchor that was too light and an anchor rope that was too short.

It was a brilliant sight, the booee skipping gaily across the white caps towards Narrabeen.

But it was caught again and placed back in position, for the third time, again despite vigorous resistance to arrest.

But that wasn’t the end of the booee’s adventures for the day.

When the 1.5km swim started around 10:30am, the booee left its post again, taking advantage of all eyes turned towards the earlier waves of swimmers.

This time, it headed north once more, even faster than its earlier escapes. Right on the high tide, the anchor jiggled joyfully, even higher over the scattered reef on the bottom below.

collaroy 14 daveSources said the booee was understood to have formed a relationship two weeks earlier with a hot pink booee with a pointy top that had been employed by the Narrabeen swim.

Sensitive Dave gets the pampering treatment from The Invisible Hand... er, Body. We trust you all slip-slop-slap on swim day.

The booee is believed to have told friends it considered the Collaroy swim its one chance to re-establish contact with “The Pink’un” – os.c understands this to be a pet name – before swims on Sydney’s Northern Beaches are completed for the year.

While another swim is scheduled prior to Xmas at Bilgola, the booee is believed to have told friends that, if a southerly blows that day, then it would have no chance of hooking up again with “The Pink’un” off Narrabeen.

“I don’t want to have to go looking for a new partner in the Avalon-Palm Beach stretch of the northern beaches in the lead-up to Xmas,” a close friend of the marker booee claims it told him.

“It reckons people just have no idea how lonely it is for marker booees over Xmas on the northern beaches. They’re all stuffed away in gear sheds, with no chance to socialise or to get their presents to their kids. They’ve just got all those old surf reels to talk to, and everyone knows how boring they are.

“They just go on all the time about the ‘good ol’ days’. They haven’t been out in years.

“It’s inhuman for marker booees. How would you like it? You’ve got all this gas inside you, and you can’t get rid of it in such close company. Not without everyone knowing it was you. And the old reels are letting out their own slack all the time, too.”

According to the close friend, “The marker booee told me, there aren’t many petrol stations up there, and it had no chance of re-inflation if the worst happened and it went down, especially if it happened at a critical moment during a hot date with The Pink’un”.

Caught unawares

Swimmers at Collaroy did not notice the 3rd absconsion until they were upon the booee during the longer of the two swims.

“I looked up, and there was the booee heading off in the other direction behind a rubber ducky,” said Bondi swimmer, Septimus Plodd, hastily folding his road map, with a course marked on it, “Eastern Suburbs to Northern Beaches”.

His Bondi colleague, Fergus McTravers, added: "Och! Hogmanaay! The stars are bricht tonicht! Dear Rabbie wouldn'a tekkin this roobish!"

He added: "You lookin' at me, Jimmy?"

Another swimmer told os.c: “I swam an extra 150 metres to get to that booee, but when I was almost there, it was gone!

“I turned around, and there it was behind me, with a hundred swimmers who’d been behind me, but now they were all in front of me,” said the other swimmer, who requested anonymity because she had not been authorised to speak on behalf of the peloton.

A third swimmer said, “It was terrific. I usually finish at the back of the pack. But this time, I was near the front!

“Gee, I swam well.”

Organisers urged swimmers to treat the official times for the 1.5km Collaroy swim with caution.

"They bear little relationship to what actually happened out there,” said a swimmer, who normally podiums, grumbling on the beach.

For balance, tried to find other swmmers who cared, but at the time of publication, no-one else had come forward.

The absconding booee was a godsend for the organisers, who’d dumped 110 tonnes of seaweed on the beach earlier in an effort to even out the race.

“We get sick of the usual suspects winning week-in, week-out, so we wanted to come up with a different set of podium finishers,” said a source close to the organisers.

“The weed didn’t quite work, even with the billions of bush flies hanging around it.

“But the runaway booee worked a treat.”

But the source had advice for the errant booee: “Don’t waste your time, mate. Those hot pink ones aren’t worth it. They're all very flashy, but when ya need ‘em, ya can’t see ‘em, anyway.”


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Everyone has a story

Collaroy 14 -bendall
A bloke who lends truth to the adage, Everyone has a story. We first noticed Denis Bendall when he was a straight-running, hard-running centre for the Balmain Tigers, at the time one of the most exciting players we'd ever seen on the field (although we wouldn't say that to Denis himself, because he's a Tiger, and basically, we don't talk to Tigers, ever since 1969). Denis played league in the days when 1st graders had real jobs; they didn't just divide their time between training, hanging out in sleazy bars late at night, and attending tattoo parlours. Denis was a teacher, and he injured his back. By rights, he probably shouldn't be walking. But swimming is good for him. Denis is an ocean swimmer, and he swims with a pull-buoy because he can't kick. Denis does a lot of work these days with Men of League, the charity that works to help people -- not just players: the tuck shop ladies, n'all - who fall on hard times. Denis can also announce, as he did all morning at Collaroy on swim day, from that oven of an upstairs balcony. Denis is one of the founders of the Collaroy swim. And he is one of the nicest coves you'll ever meet on the beach. Everyone has a story.

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