akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
[personal profile] akawil
This past weekend, [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen and I went to Northampton to visit my mother.

On Saturday, since it was a gorgeous day, Mom and her boyfriend G. suggested we go canoeing. This seemed like an entertaining prospect, so we agreed.

We went down to the marina by the Connecticut River, and rented two canoes -- one for LMG and me, and one for Mom and G. After getting down to the dock, though, it occurred to us that while LMG had gone canoeing since she was at camp (some fifteen years ago or so) and pretty much remembered what she was doing, I had only ever gone with my father, probably while I was still in elementary school, during which he was essentially doing all the work while I wiggled my oar in front and made like I was being helpful.

Additionally, my mother (in her inimitable way) had rushed everyone out of the house go-go-go and we didn't have a chance to point out that we hadn't had lunch, so we were approaching this on low blood sugar. Furthermore, the current and the wind on the river were both noticeably strong.

So between the current, my lack of experience, and our poor communication (I interpreted LMG saying "since you don't know what you're doing, I'll steer the boat" as meaning "you don't have to worry about which way the boat is pointing, just keep paddling") we quickly found ourselves discovering the joys of a) travelling downstream with some rapidity, and b) arguing about it.

Several experiments with what we could do about this failed to improve matters, including an attempt at having me sit backwards in the canoe, which ended up with us forgetting several times which one of us was supposed to be paddling backwards (and arguing about it).

Eventually, Mom and G. gave up on waiting for us upstream where we'd originally planned to meet, and came back downstream to find us. We explained the difficulties we were having. So they suggested we switch off who was in which canoe, since by this point it was unclear we'd be able to get back upstream to the boat dock by the time the canoes were due back.

Unfortunately (how that word keeps coming up), this would have required us to actually reach the shore of the river, in the same place as they were. An attempt to achieve this led to us getting the canoe caught in the branches of a tree, about ten yards or so downstream from the spot we were supposed to reach.

"Aha," I thought. "Since there's a tree here, I can just reach out to it and pull the canoe along, which will work better than actually trying to paddle."

I can just ... reach ... out ... it's a little further ...

(Canoes are remarkably unstable things. You need to stay centered in them.)


I'm very glad we were both wearing life jackets. I'm somewhat less glad I was wearing my watch, glasses, and (only pair of) shoes, and had my wallet and keys in my pocket.

Additionally, turning a canoe right-side up doesn't work very well when it's full of water.

So we're bobbing in the water, next to an overturned canoe. Fortunately, at this point a very nice (probably) lesbian couple on Ski-Doos noticed our predicament. One of them tossed a line to me so I could hook it around the canoe, and then let me clamber up onto the Ski-Doo while she towed the boat over to a beach on the other shore. Mom and G. meanwhile picked up LMG in the other canoe, and followed us over.

Our rescuer helped me turn the canoe over and dump the water out, while her companion made sure that LMG had been picked up successfully. They then Ski-Doo'd off, and I took off my socks and shoes while I waited for the rest of them to come on their way over.

By the time they got to us, it was about ten after five, and the canoes were due back at 6. So we decided that probably the most sensible way to approach things would be for G. to take one of the canoes on his own, and Mom, LMG and I to take the other.

This approach actually worked quite well, and along the way Mom instructed me in the Central Dogma of canoe-paddling: while the nose of the canoe is pointing to the left of where you're going, paddle on the right, and vice-versa. This would have made things *so* much easier, before...

The three of us managed to make approximately as good time as G. on his own (he being a scary athletic type), and we got back to the dock at about ten to six. We gratefully, and exhaustedly, hauled our way back out onto the dock, found a towel, and made our way back home to showers and dry clothes.

Remarkably, my digital watch (still a pretty neat idea!) came through perfectly intact, and everything in my wallet dried out fine, over the next day or so, except my stamps. The only thing that got lost in the river was the Amoco hat I'd been wearing -- a pity, since it was from my uncle's old service station and it was the only hat we could find that would fit me, but it could have been a *lot* worse.

LMG has informed me that we're never going canoeing again, though.

(An overview of the scene of this adventure is available here.)

Date: 2005-07-04 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladymondegreen.livejournal.com
For the record, I do know how to get water of the canoe when it's been turned over, but I was holding onto a branch, and trying to catch all the things in the canoe (including my oar) as they floated rapidly downstream. I did manage to keep my hat, my sunglasses and my oar, as well as four out of the five water bottles, which I had to tie into the water-filled plastic bag, while in the current. While holding onto the oar, and the branch.

Thankfully I was able to pull myself along about twenty feet onto a log and get stable while I waited for everyone to stop mucking about.

Date: 2005-07-04 10:27 pm (UTC)
camwyn: Me in a bomber jacket and jeans standing next to a green two-man North Andover Flight Academy helicopter. (Default)
From: [personal profile] camwyn
Oh, dear. Sounds like a bit of a mess. had fun, though, right?

Date: 2005-07-05 08:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chanaleh.livejournal.com
Wow! Makes my recent canoeing adventure sound utterly... well, never mind that, it was already utterly placid. :-} I'd actually have traded you one or two notches of excitement.

In fact: where was the marina/canoe rental in question? I'd been looking for canoeing options along the Connecticut River, before we ended up deciding to go north this time.

Date: 2005-07-05 04:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tayefeth.livejournal.com
Please excuse the snickering from over here. LMG clearly failed to explain what "I'll steer" means in a canoe. It means "You will sit in the bow and do what I tell you to do." Just, you know, FYI, in case she relents and you go canoeing again.

Canoes are actually remarkably stable, up to a point. Past that point, there's not much you can do to prevent them from capsizing. Sadly, one of the easiest ways to get past that point is to lean out and try to grab a branch. [livejournal.com profile] frutbat lost a pair of glasses to the Delaware River when his bowman did that, many moons ago.

If you want an unstable watercraft, try a kayak.;-)

Date: 2005-07-05 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] auntiemisha.livejournal.com
Sorry that you didn't have a good canoe experience. I guess this means that sailing is right out as well?


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