Sunday, September 16, 2012

"We're not going anywhere, Daddy."

My father, AKA - The Silver Fox - had mentioned on Friday that he'd like to take DS paddling this weekend.   Today was a gorgeous day - a bit cool and breezy, but really sunny and otherwise a great day for a paddle.   So, earlier this afternoon following up on his earlier thought, The Silver Fox called and asked if DS would like to go for a paddle.  DS thought that would be great. 

I've been feeling a little under the weather but figured that it would be fun to tag along, too.   My dad came over, we packed up boats, lifejackets and paddles and a large bag of water. (more on this later...) The Silver Fox looked at me a sideways as I loaded up the water and asked, "Thirsty?"  We then headed off to a favorite paddling spot.

The plan was that my dad would paddle the Wabnaki with my son in the bow and that I would paddle my kayak.  We got the boats off the car and put on life jackets and grabbed paddles.  Once the boats were floating, I grabbed the bag of water and put it in the bow of the Wabnaki.  What I'd learned the last time that I had DS in the front of this particular canoe with me is that he doesn't weigh enough yet to keep the bow down in the water. (...and I'm not that big a guy, myself.)    I'd brought the bag of water as ballast to help keep the bow down!   As we launched, the Silver Fox reiterated one of his favorite paddling mantras for DS's benefit - "The bottom of a canoe should only touch two things.  One is air and the other is water."

We pushed off and paddled out and turned into one arm of this lake with the wind at our backs, making easy way down the edge of the lake.  As we got to the end of this section of the lake,  the canoe stopped abruptly, while I kept going in the kayak.  After I got myself turned around, I noticed that they were stuck on a large rock about two inches below the surface that was basically invisible in the shadowed water near the edge.  I went around to the bow of the boat and pulled downwards to help float the rear section that was grounded.   After a little finagling, the boat was free again.  We got turned around into the wind and started to paddle.  I hadn't paddled very long, but soon got the sense that I was paddling alone.  The kayak is fast, but...

I paddled back over to the canoe and both my father and DS were paddling furiously into the wind, but making little headway.  My father is looking very confused at this point and wondering why they aren't making more progress upwind.  I head over and push the canoe and it moves a bit, and they proceed to paddle furiously, making what appears to be little progress.   I pulled over to the boat figuring that I could help tow the canoe a bit with a strap that I have.   DS grabbed it out of my gear hatch and hooked it between the kayak and a thwart. 

I paddled. 


For quite a bit of time.

I feel the strap take up, but we're going nowhere.  At this time, I figure this isn't going anywhere.  At this point in time, we figure that the wind is getting the better of us.  I know the Wabnaki isn't the fastest boat, but, dang.  Finally the wind pushes the bow of the Wabnaki over to one side and my father starts thinking of heading to a different boat-ramp that is downwind from where we are so I can pick them up with the car.  I paddle up alongside and watch some trees on the shore.  I realize that the canoe isn't moving.  At all.   Even downwind.

Huh.  Now I'm suspicious.

I paddle close to the canoe and take my Greenland paddle and sweep it under the keel of the canoe. 


Ah.  They're on another rock.  Oh wait, that can't be a rock.  Must be hard water - the bottom of a canoe only touches air and water.  With a little re-distribution of paddler weight and ballast I can then pull down on the bow again and off the rock they come with some scraping and grinding, but off they come. 

The Silver Fox appeared to be a little bit shaken by the experience, but DS appears not to have realized how serious the issue could have been and it rolled off his back like water off a duck.  We had a very quiet and distinctly curtailed trip back to the put-in where we relaxed on the shore for a bit before heading home.

Darned rocks.


Kevin said...

Great post! Makes me wish I was able to do things with my dad and sons before he passed.

Canoez said...


I understand where you're coming from.

My mom was ill for some time before she passed away at a relatively young age. She was around for the birth of both of the kids, but never really got to spend much time with them.

Being that she was always God's gift to animals and small children, I am sorry for both her and my kids that they never got to truly enjoy each other's company the way they should have.