Saturday, March 24, 2012

Back to the Safety of Kayaking

I feel a lot safer kayaking in Stonington Harbor than I did sailing a sloop in the Chesapeake Bay

Cindy is delighted I finally realized there's no boat like her kayak. (But I do recall a recent T.V. show where two kayakers were swept out to sea. The stronger paddler finally reached shore, leaving the weaker one to fend for himself. Note to self: By nice to Cindy!)

Just Say "NO" to Sailing!Monday I took a sailing lesson where I sat all alone in a little sailboat and was taught to tack and jib by making figure eights around buoys. Trying to coordinate my movements with the wind reminds me of why I begged my husband, Jim, to let me drop out of the couple's dance lessons we had been taking. I just can't seem to move when and where wind (or music) dictates. Every time the sailboat was actually being pushed along by the wind, I let the sail out so I would stop--I just don't like being pushed along by a force outside myself. Although fun to go up the Mystic River in one straight line, to get back, I had to tack and jib the whole way. Running aground twice and needing a tow to get back to deeper water, I finally asked the instructor just to drag me back to land once and for all. I ended my lesson early, hopped back into my convertible, and took command of my gas pedal and steering wheel. Always obedient, they do what I tell them to do, when I tell them to do it.

A few days later, I visited the open, three-sided seaside chapel facing the sea at Enders Island. It's a place I go to pray when my friends or family need serious help. Formally a lonely, old woman's tea house, it now covers a stone alter where people leave written notes of prayers desperate for help or comfort. One such prayer was one I should have left right before my sailing misadventure. On a tiny scrap of paper held down on the alter by a rock, it read simply: "Oh Lord, your sea is so great and my boat is so small. Help me." There were two initials, then the date: March 17, 2012.

End Note: My friend Cindy was thrilled to get my call begging her take me kayaking again, thrilled that I would no longer paddling alongside her making comments like, "I wish I could find a friend with a sailboat--now that would be a real adventure!"

So yesterday, like Dorothy of “The Wizard of Oz,” who clicked  her ruby slippers together and said, "There's no place like home," I zipped up my life vest, plopped into Cindy's kayak, and thought, "There's no boat like a kayak!"
(I have to admit, however, that when we paddled past luxurious yachts docked along the Mystic River the other day, I did think, "If only I could find a friend with one of those!")

Kayakers have the advantage of paddling close to sunken ships like the schooner Marmion, which still has exposed masts, rigging, and a mossy deck. According to her former captain, the Marmion was used by Ernest Hemingway as his “mother ship" (floating hotel) when sport fishing in the Bahamas (I need to confirm with the captain that the above ship we found in the Stonington Bay is the Marmion, which she said is still exposed there).


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