Even if the weather’s been crap, sometimes you’ve just got to go. In Iain Rennie’s case that means flying off in a Piper Cub to a remote beach with his buddy Roger Griffith for some salty soul searching for The Mission Issue 43.

Leaving the smog behind and flying low level over the trees, we can see the coast of Wakanda ahead. As we pull up over the coastal dunes we send a WhatsApp back home to let those that need to know that we’re nearly there, then we drop down to low level again. There’s no cell signal in Wakanda, yet another big positive of this magical location. Working our way up the beaches we check out various spots we’ve eyed out on Google Earth. There is the odd Wakandan fishing party who have driven up the beach throwing bait and chugging beers. We are looking for a more deserted spot. We decide to run north, sus out all the possible locations, then fly back to the one we like best. With the wind thumping, the little Piper Cub is fairly dancing about.

“We watch satellites wandering overhead, a blanket of stars pricking holes in the cosmos.”

After a couple of passes we choose a spot that has a nice flat section of beach without too much cross fall and an easy approach with a good go-around option. It also has some decent fishing prospects as well as a sheltered area with big casuarina trees to camp under. Running low down the beach I drag the high flotation bush wheels along the surface feeling for loose sand or hidden rocks. Satisfied that all is in order we circle around for a pretty straightforward landing.

Once down we busy ourselves pulling the plane up to the trees above the storm tide marks, a hatchet takes down a few saplings and we soon have a camp. With the necessary out of the way we stand looking out to sea, neither of us really wanting to voice the obvious. The sea is dirty, proper muddy, chopped-up soup. Wakanda has had continuous rainfall for months, some of the highest on record. Our proximity to a series of large estuaries, all of which have been blown open by surging flood waters, is not going to help us one bit.

“Any species will do.”

We agree that even if it’s just one decent fish caught on fly, we will consider this mission a success. Any species will do. We just need to catch something. With more positive vibes than a gap year student at a yoga retreat we rig up and head for the surf. High tide is pushing in, but we don’t let that dampen our enthusiasm. Crazy Charlies on and off we go. A couple of casts and I get dumped by a chocolate-coloured wave. A few more and I try a lighter coloured fly. Hours later and I’ve been through nearly every fly in the bag kindly sent to me by a fly tying friend of a friend (@flydreamingkzn on the ’Gram). Neither Dodge nor I have had a twitch of the line, much less a bite.

“We live in a world which we try and make as certain as possible. Fly fishing isn’t. Nothing is guaranteed.”

We retreat up the beach, brew some Earl Grey tea with a solid dollop of condensed milk and reconsider our tactics. More positivity; it must have been the tide that stumped us on the earlier session. Reinvigorated by the brew I decide to walk up north on my own while Dodge has a crack closer to camp. Beautiful, deserted beaches stretch away ahead of me, not another person for literally miles. I throw a cast from time to time as I stroll along. An old shipwreck pokes out of the sand. Eventually I turn and fish more carefully back to the camp, methodically assessing the sets and tide. Long before I get there, I can see Dodge has given up and is relaxing in our beach lounge (a driftwood log and some other flotsam) with a beer in hand. Soon I follow suit.

Piper Cub camo.

Watching the sun slip below the horizon, we crack a bottle of sacred Scottish amber liquid, Jura Journey. We toast life and living, while the skies morph into various colours, eventually fading to black as the show ends. A simple camp dinner fit for kings cooked up and eaten, we make ourselves comfortable. The gurgle of the bottle recharges our tin mugs, Dodge passes me a cigar and lights one for himself.

“The hours tick by as we come up with solutions to the world’s problems and our own.”

There is something healing in being so truly disconnected from the world, no sign of the metaverse, no algorithm predicting our thoughts and trying to sell us anything, free of the trap of social media we voluntarily throw ourselves into. An hour or two later lying on the beach, the bottle significantly lighter, we watch satellites wandering overhead, a blanket of stars pricking holes in the cosmos, the waves play base to our chatter as we dive into life and death, love and agonising heartbreak, loss and ambition.

The hours tick by as we come up with solutions to the world’s problems and our own, trying to let go of the things we need to and refocus on the things that matter (a process I call “broga”: bro-yoga). Eventually we clamber sandy and salty into our sleeping bags (along with some unobserved sand fleas) and fall asleep to the sound of a tender breeze wandering through the casuarinas and the gentle sighing of the waves. The earth spins gently around its rotational axis.

Read the rest of the Iain Rennie’s Piper Cub story in The Mission Issue 43 below. Free like your spirit.

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