Today's Report

Posted by Kurt Maurer on Jun 12, 2004

Today was a true Texas scorcher, and as usual, I took a little paddling break during the hottest part of it. I headed straight for my favorite practice-grounds on Armand Bayou. The put-in can be a mighty popular place on weekends, but still I tend to get it all to myself since most folks go paddling in the morning or evening to beat the heat. I did see a few "stragglers" returning to the landing, and among them was none other than my first roll coach in his solo canoe (he's training for a 100-mile race in September). He watched a few of my turnabouts, then pronounced me a "rolling fool". Cool!

I have been hearing stories about people getting "rescued" while practicing rolls, and today it was my turn...

But first, lemme set up the scene: I am getting pretty darn comfortable holding my breath while playing around in upside-down boats. Also, I've been having fits rolling on my "off-side", so that's what I was working on mostly today. I never did manage to get it (YET!), but at least I can go so far as to catch a breath of wind and then try, try again. That's what I was doing, when after a string of failed roll attempts, I finally said t'hell with it and snapped upright on my good side (with my new C-to-C, thankyouverymuch, whee!). What greeted my newly-surfaced eyeballs came as something of a surprise: several people lined up at water's edge looking at me intensely, and a Sheriff's Deputy in full uniform standing on the dock looking ready for anything. It was plain to see from the way his cruiser was parked (dang near *on* the dock) that he arrived on the scene in a state of red alert. The folks on shore laughed and clapped at my sudden salvation, and the cop grinned broadly and shouted "I was fixin' to call the Coast Guard on you..."

I instantly apologized to the officer for having caused him alarm, but he just waved it off with a smile and laugh, then stayed around to watch a couple more rolls before rolling on himself. (I really ought to try and remember cops and firemen in my bedtime prayers...)

Anyway, today's practice session lasted all afternoon, yet included only perhaps two hours actually on - or in - the water. The rest of the time was spent talking to folks on shore about all sorts of kayak-related stuff. Some wanted to know more about my homemade boats; others about what I was doing.

One guy showed up for his second-ever time in a kayak, and so I wound up showing my enthusiastic new "student" some of what I know about paddle-and-boat. He was an old yachting type who professed to swim like a fish in explanation for his reluctance to don his rather crappy rented PFD; and as birds of a feather (his sun-browned hide was unmistakable), I sympathized and let it slide... although I made it clear that we were near to, and upwind of, safe ground, and that was WHY I let it slide. He was sufficiently accustomed to the water that he ultimately capsized his (also rented) Perception Carolina 14.5, just as I *knew* he eventually would, from watching him, while having a blast edging turns: his new trick for the day. It was GREAT!! I stood off and gave instructions while he endeavored to rescue himself. He couldn't do it. Then I attempted to steady his flooded boat while he tried a ride-em-cowboy, but he found that impossible also. When he finally began to visibly tire from his exertions while treading water all the while, I delivered a quick sermon on the virtues of the quality PFD you do not mind wearing at all times, then walked him through a T-rescue and got the rascal in a dry cockpit once again.

Then I dumped my boat and demonstrated an inverted reentry and roll-up, then dumped again, and showed an unassisted cockpit drain (thanks again to Lee G) and self-reentry, cowboy-style. Nuthin' to it, though it caused wide eyes among other parties.

I'm not puffing my chest out at you, though it's starting to look that way; but rather, I am trying to tell you that I have invested the time and energy to learn and practice some real live sea kayak techniques, and that I was able to actually *demonstrate* what I have gained like a friggin' expert ---- to the untrained eye, that is.

But I am not done practicing all this sh*t yet, and I will tell you why: because I almost desperately want all this stuff to actually WORK if (when?) the time comes where the chips are indeed down, and human life hangs in the balance on what I know -- and can actually DO.

And here is another little gem for the day: I find that with the more confidence I gain, the more FUN I have in my boat. And it was considerable FUN to begin with! I just cannot believe what a perfect BLAST these sea kayaks are!!!

Cheers, Kurt