April 13, 2009 in Keepers Log

Winds of change

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As the season switches from winter to spring, the winds of change blow fiercely. Lately, the wind has been gusting over 30 mph and creating white caps and 3-foot swells on the river. Anything not lashed down is at the whim of the wind gusts.

Today, I received a phone call from the Coast Guard. “Do you know anything about the boat drifting down the river? Looks like an overturned skiff.” I grabbed my binoculars and took a look around. I recognized the boat. It was my kayak. It must’ve blown off its rack on the side of the deck. “I’ll take care of it,” I told the Coast Guard caller. I quickly grabbed my rain-jacket and paddling gloves as I dashed out the door. As I slid my other kayak into the water, I wondered how the Coast Guard had noticed overturned boat in the river from their station on the creek. My question was answered when I paddled into the river. A large Coast Guard vessel came into view, looming over the lighthouse. It was the 840-ton cutterCatherine Walker awaiting a rendezvous with the local buoy tender. Dwarfed by the 175′ vessel, my wayward 14.5′ kayak bobbed in the wind-driven waves, gradually floating down river. With precise paddle strokes, I came along side the overturned kayak and tied a line to its bow. I towed it ashore, struggling against the wind and current. I rescued the kayak, but it did not survive unscathed. The rudder was torn off, leaving a gaping hole in the stern. A casualty of the wind, but nothing gobs of glue and duct-tape can’t fix.

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