Monday, February 11, 2008

My first OBE

And no, I don't mean Out of Body Experience.... I like to call it Out of Boat Experience! Salt Marsh Kayak and Bluefield Enterprises had their first Oyster Roast and Paddle this weekend. While we got there late to the oyster roast out in Bladen county, it was great, big fire, good food, live band.... We camped on the property and ate a huge spread that Bluefield Enterprises CEO and chief cook Scott prepared. Fresh homemade biscuits with sorghum molasses, yellow grits, sausage, cinnamon rolls, I was ready for the paddle! We were all going down the South River ending near Tomahawk NC. Gorgeous day, brisk, blue sky, Black water mmmm! The South is a nice river a bit more gravely than the sandy Black, and low this year. We had a lovely paddle about 13 of us. An adorable little black puppy hovered about as we put in and one of the group just couldn't leave her. She rode in the bow of his kayak the whole way down, 9.64 twisty turny miles! So Robert and I were hanging back, it was after lunch and the river had a bit more current than I, the beginner, am used to. There were plenty of obstacles, some really BIG trees down over the river. So lots of strainers. Robert hung back to gather some wild gourds and the puppy rescuer and I were alone trying to shoot through a tight zig zag of logs and trees down. I got trapped, the back of my kayak pinned between two cypress knees and the front wedged. I couldn't budge. and every time I did try to move I would nearly flip with the current rushing under me. I just sat there waiting for Robert as the other guy went on through. Robert came along chuckling at me sitting there looking glum. He moved to the bank, got out and helped me get unpinned. I backed up to try again. This time he was patiently giving me instructions as to how best to paddle through the narrow passage. Well I made all the same mistakes. The current caught the back end and I lost control of the boat again and got trapped....again. I was irritated, frustrated and mad at myself. The rest of the group was long gone. And then trying to move myself out of my situation I flipped.
This is a big deal for me.
I have never flipped over. I have taken a quick rescue and recovery class in the summer, in warm water, at the beach in which I flipped over hung for a second or so, and then released the skirt and popped up. But I have never accidentally flipped over in freezing cold water with nothing on but a T shirt and pfd. I panicked! It was only waist deep but the current was pulling me under the strainer and I was freaking. Robert was shouting at me to calm down and pull the skirt and get out of the boat. It took a second, I was gasping at the cold. trying to grab gear. He's shouting "leave the gear!", forget it... I was a very cold mammal at that moment, not hearing anything. so I stand up and try to wade out against the current. I shook for 20 minutes from just adrenaline. Robert had brought all kinds of extra dry clothes so I was warm soon. But it was pretty big milestone for me. And evidence as to how quick a reasonably calm looking river, no rocks, no whitewater, nothing scary can become really scary when you are being towed under logs and branches with a current especially for a novice. We are laughing about it now. And I am glad that I have that experrience under my belt. He wants to kayak the Orcas islands and I feel nowhere near ready. I am not a cold water girl! I know there's gear and all... but...I am a big chicken. I don't love adrenaline. I like yoga and making things. I love easy, gentle paddling in pretty surroundings! Needless to say I am sore and slept like a baby last night.


ludwiglk said...

I'm not a kayak but my dh was obsessively until heart issues forced him to stop. I was the crazy climb the rocks photo taker for those waterfall shots... Better a wet exit than drownin', girl!

ludwiglk said...

I'm not a kayaker. ROFLMAO