IDIOT PADDLING REPORT!

Posted by Kurt Maurer on Jun 7, 2004

Today Leslie and I are a GO for a little paddle on Dickinson Bayou. The weather is super nice, the water excellent: perfectly smooth, except for a couple of refreshingly considerate water-skiing parties upon who's wakes we amuse ourselves immensely. After my demonstrating a few rolls for the camera (I will post some pix later, after I calm down), we took off down the bayou in earnest.

After an hour or so in the hot sun, I remove my PFD and stow it in the rear deck rigging immediately behind me. In fact, this is where I *normally* keep my PFD, although lately I have actually been *wearing* the stupid thing since I am so busy trying to learn rescue stuff. Anyway, I keep my spray skirt on in case I want to roll again, which I do from time to time to cool off. Heck, this is half the reason I wanted to learn to roll in the first place! Ahhhh!!

On the way back, we stop at a trestle to watch a freight train pass over. Afterward, I roll again to cool off, but for some reason, my roll fails; I try again, and in the struggle of a second failed roll my knee slips off the thigh pad causing an immediate and involuntary wet exit. No biggie; I simply enter into my new routine of securing the paddle and preparing for a wet reentry... when I begin to wonder why everything is so much more difficult than in all my so-recent practice sessions. Oh yah - my PFD! So let's see how hard it is to don a PFD while in the water. Ooops, it's gone! Leslie looks around, but finds no sign of it anywhere, and in the meantime I'm getting kinda tired treading water so I perform a cowboy reentry after draining the cockpit. Puff, puff... Wow, this is a LOT harder to do after several hours paddling... Puff, puff, puff! Geez.

When we get back to the landing, I go through my roll again to see what the deal was. One roll just like advertised, good. Second roll, I'm out of the boat again! Crap!! And I'm having difficulty treading water again without my PFD!!! And DAMN, I am just about BEAT now!!!! I attempt a wet reentry, but my roll fails and I'm out of the boat AGAIN. I am far too worn out, and out of breath by now, to attempt any more self-rescues; so to hell with it, I paddle myself and the upside-down boat to shallow water, and then wade ashore as ignomoniously as it gets.

So I ask myself: did I learn a lesson today OR WHAT??? Shoot. As far as I'm concerned, I literally got myself in over my head today, even though, *by the Grace of God*, it was safe enough. I mean, at any time I could have easily abandoned the yak and swam to shore if it became a life or death matter since I happen to be physically fit and can swim like a fish. But the whole situation was vividly apparent enough in its implications that the message came through loud and clear all the same: that new PFD I ordered this morning (good thing, too -- I LOST MINE TODAY!!!!!!!)is gonna get WORN AT ALL TIMES, baby!

Moral:

IF you are in water over your head, you can get really tired really fast keeping your bony bean above by the constant kicking action required for same. Us humans, being the land animules we is, them feets make for mighty poor appendages in a fluid medium. Wearing diving fins would have made it so much easier to keep my snorkel in the air, but then, a GODDAM STINKIN' PFD would have made it EVEN EASIER STILL, DUMBASS. Scuze my French. And as human beans, we sorta instinctively know that keeping our nostrils above the surface is kinda necessary to avoid unpleasant things like drowning, and as a result, guess what: fear springs up when the chips are down. When you are exhausted... AND frightened... AND in water over your head... why, you are fairly BEGGING for a well-crafted box in the ground to call your very own for a long, long time.

And all this happened in pleasantly warm water, thankyouverymuch. So put THAT in your pipe and smoke it if you live 'round points north of Galveston Bay.

Cheers, (today a little wiser) Kurt

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