A romantic weekend adventure spent on the Clarence River celebrating the Cornell’s 17th wedding anniversary has been deemed a success, despite Husband Darren Cornell adopting a flamboyantly gruff seafaring persona for much of the trip.
“At first it was charming – funny, even” recalls wife Meredith. “We were both excited at the prospect of a weekend away from the kids, so on Friday afternoon when Daz started up with the ‘Y’arrr’ pirate noises as soon as the lovely houseboat operators had given us the orientation briefing, I didn’t nip it in the bud.
“You’d think after almost two decades together I’d know not to get him started, so it’s partly my fault for encouraging him by asking ‘Permission to come aboard, sir?’ but even so, the man’s 49 now, old enough to know better.”
Prior to this weekend getaway, the extent of Mr Cornell’s maritime experience has been limited to a handful of ferry rides, an awkward fishing expedition with a brother-in-law, an ill-fated Gold Coast barbecue-pontoon corporate Christmas party, and piloting an inflatable crocodile pool toy around the backyard pool.
Nonetheless, casting off from the Brushgrove dock on Friday afternoon marked the beginning of a profound transformation over the next 48 hours – from unremarkable-but-dependable husband and father of two, to salty sea-dog with a steely thousand-yard gaze to the horizon, staring Poseidon in the eye and refusing to blink no matter what fury the four winds may conjure.
“We set off upriver to Ulmarra the first night, just getting used to the houseboat, which is really simple, just use your common-sense and follow the instructions, but pretty much straight away Daz started bellowing all these random orders about hoisting the mainsail, avasting this and that, and heaving-to off the starboard bow.
“He’d squint his face up and speak out the side of his mouth. For a moment I thought the poor dear was having a stroke, but when he went to the bedroom (or ‘stateroom’ as he insisted on calling it) and came back with a captain’s hat and a pipe, I knew it was just Daz getting carried away, as he does.
“By Saturday afternoon – we’d had a celebratory swim – (Daz insisted we’d just crossed the equator, which was strange as we’d just had lunch at the Ulmarra Hotel) when I told him to take the whole Captain Ahoy thing down a notch.
“He just told me that if I’d seen the things he’d seen at sea, I’d understand.
“I think he mentioned a battle between a giant squid and a mermaid at midnight or something, but by then I was on the couch with a book, so I couldn’t really tell you.”
It really was such a fun adventure
Despite her husband’s puzzling, borderline-personality-disorder metamorphosis, Meredith was happy to declare their houseboat adventure along the Clarence River a memorable and delightful way to celebrate 17 years of marriage.
“It’s a special and unique way to experience the river, in all its moods and colours through all the different times of day. Calling in to the riverside villages, all the ever-changing views. It really was such a fun adventure.
“Sunday evening – the same night we got married on 17 years ago – we were anchored outside of Grafton, the sunset was breathtaking and reflecting in the glassy water like a mirror, we were surrounded by orange and pink, purple and blue, and it really felt like we had the whole world to ourselves.
“It was so sublime Daz even let the whole seafaring thing go for a bit. We just sat there on the deck with our nibbles, reminiscing and laughing and drinking champagne.
“Actually, I had the champers to myself – Daz would only drink rum out of a chipped enamel mug”
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