Wednesday, July 12, 2006

In Which I Do Battle with the Mighty Chesapeake

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Many monotheists forget that it's always a good idea to have at least one water deity in your worship basket. It's too late to adopt, say, Poseidon, when that Perfect Storm rolls in and swamps your sea-doo.

I don't know which bored god or goddess saved my girlish rear end last week, but I spread my thanks around liberally. I think I even prayed to the Little Mermaid.

Now, sit right back and you'll hear a tale of a fateful trip. It started from a boat launch on the Chesapeake, aboard a kayak.

The mate was a tween with attitude. The skipper completely clueless about tidal drains.

The weather was balmy and bright, not a cloud in the sky, light inconsequential winds. But don't let that Chesapeake Charm fool you. Danger lurked within. Particularly for a gal who grew up amidst little rushing streams on steep hillsides.

Now try to picture this without laughing:

I launched a two-seater kayak from a small boat launch with my daughter, The Spare in the front seat. Before I could climb into the back seat, the kayak drifted into the water, and The Spare dropped both oars. So she was drifting (and screaming) about 10 feet from shore.

I waded in to grab the kayak and pull it back. But as I moved toward it, the insolent little craft floated farther away. Somehow I could not convey to The Spare the concept of using her hands as paddles. She just bawled for my assistance.

I took one step in the direction of the fleeing kayak. My foot sank into about six inches of muck. I took another step. This foot sank into about 12 inches of muck. Completely clueless in the Tidewater region, I lumbered on. Two strides later, I was up to my haunches in muck, couldn't feel a bottom to it, and I couldn't move. If I extricated one foot from the steely grip of the muck, the other leg slid deeper into it.

The Spare sat a mere eight feet away, wailing. Clearly she was not going to grasp the concept of moving a lightweight plastic boat with her hands.

I started screaming. Don't laugh until you've felt muck creeping up your helpless shanks.

The screams brought my other daughter, The Heir, who had successfully launched her solo kayak. Her response: "Mom, are you all right?"

Well, I might have been had I not seen "Lawrence of Arabia" or "Blazing Saddles." As it was, my life was passing before my eyes, and I was soundly cursing the day I left Appalachia which, though not entirely muckless, is decidedly less mucky than the Chesapeake.

Here's where the bored gods enter the picture.

A pair of nice young dads, out to bond with their tots over a fishing adventure, also heard my scream. They heaved another kayak into the launch. I grabbed it, and they pulled me back to shore. The Heir retrieved the errant paddles, and The Spare paddled all 12 feet back to the launch all by herself. (She has not since quit bragging about her superior kayaking abilities.)

You would think that after such a harrowing experience I would retire to the nearest rocking chair with a stiff mint julep. And I must admit that was my first impulse. But I bit my lip and got in that kayak, paddled a grouchy Spare to a beautiful bit of undeveloped beachfront, and let the gentle low tide lick my wounds.

I felt like I'd just gone fifteen rounds with one of your nastier middleweights, like Tommy Hearns or some other Kronk dude. And all along through this post I've had the good taste not to mention what that muck smelled like.

But. Lessons learned. We at "The Gods Are Bored" are big on messages in our texts.

1. When launching kayaks, always keep an oar in your hand.
2. Make the oldest daughter stand on shore until the clueless kayakers are all in the water safely.
3. If there's nothing growing out of it, and you can't see sand or rock, it's bottomless muck.
4. If you rest to lick your wounds on a nice sandy spit, Sacred Thunderbirds will come in droves to see if you plan on getting up again.

Now here's where the Bored Gods really enter the picture.

Those fishermen were on their way to the boat launch with their tiny tots because the tots wanted to swim in there.

All hail the Great Bored Gods of the Deep (and occasionally mucky) Chesapeake!

(Rock-bottomed and gravity-driven fresh water)


Mary Jones said...

Call me crazy (and I probably am), but I've always had the vibe that Manannan mac Lir is spending his summers off the Mid-Atlantic coast. You know, dividing his time between here and the Isle of Man.

kayakdave said...

Tip # whatever: Always check to see if your paddle will float before boarding.
I would have loved to see that um, mis-adventure. Fact is I’m chuckling- a lot.