Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Overboard Brothers

Lake George on a calm day

My father was the one person who really got me started paddling. One of the reasons that we did lots of paddling was that my family was actively involved with Scouting. The Scout troop often took several paddling trips a year. One would be a weekend trip to a local river or pond and the other would be a multi-day trip to a bigger piece of water.

One year, we took a trip up to Lake George, New York and camped for a few days on one of the islands. For those who may not be familiar with Lake George, it's a big piece of water - about 32 miles long and between 1 and 3 miles wide and surrounded by mountains on the East and West shores.

On this particular trip, we spent most of our time eating, swimming, fishing and improving our paddling skills. The island we were staying on had about 10 camp sites on it and we were camped on the two sites that were on the north side of the island. The "shore" such as it was, was a large piece of rock that extended about 15' above the surface of the water. To the North, the nearest obstructions up the lake were some islands maybe 5 miles away.

On one particularly perfect weather day, my father and our Scoutmaster Tom decided to take one of the canoes out for a paddle. The weather was a bit cool and they went out fully dressed, but with life jackets on. They were planning to explore the group of islands that we were in to the South. While they were out, the wind whipped up in a fierce way from the North. Because of the Geography, the wind is funneled down the lake by the mountains. The lake was putting up some really big rollers - about 3-4' peak to trough. I remember the waves were breaking quite far up the large rock that made up the "shore".

At any rate, they returned and came around from the lee side of the island into the teeth of these waves. They were doing just fine until they decided to try to make a turn to get back to the dock. (BTW - the surface of the dock was awash at the time from the waves!) As they got broadside to the waves in this 17' long canoe, over they went. One of my friends and I who were in bathing suits grabbed another canoe and went out to do the rescue. We pulled the swamped canoe over the gunnels to drain the water, flipped it and put it back in right side up. We then used paddles to stabilize the two boats to let them climb back in.

After the fact, my father and the Scoutmaster were known as "The Overboard Brothers".

I guess The Divine Miss M just has it in her genes!

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