Friday, April 26, 2013

Know Your Boat

It's terrific getting out on the water on a spring morning when there aren't too many people on the beach and the water is still pretty clear from winter cold. Even the same old stretch of shoreline seems new when the tide is unexpectedly low (yeah, yeah, I could look at and plan ahead). What I like is knowing this shoreline and knowing my kayak.
When I can see that iron loop above the water, I know the rock it's bolted into is just below the surface. I can get close enough to the corroded iron to tap it with my paddle, but not touch it with my hand, not before the skeg of my kayak drags on the underwater rock a little.
Knowing my boat at that moment is a good thing. I know the rigid rubbery skeg is a little lower than the rest of the hull, so that if I'm careful getting away from the rock, the barnacles won't scrape the hull of my inflatable. The hull is tough, but let's not take foolish chances with wear-and-tear!
I'm not the only one who knows my boat. Mama Seal came by -- or another speckled Harbour Seal that looks like her -- and nodded at me before ducking down after a fish. There must have been a school of fish that I couldn't see. The only one I saw was in the beak of a seagull, who landed on a rock and flipped the little fish so that it could be swallowed head-first.
I scooted around Flower Island, blooming now with the camas that gave it the name, enjoying all the starfish cuddled into wet cracks. There are a lot more starfish around the bay now than five years ago! Maybe this is a sign of an improving environment.
Then, back along the shoreline to the beach, and putting away the little inflatable. The tarp I pull over the other kayaks in the yard has been moved by wind. The wrinkles are never the same from one day to the next.
It's a darned good idea to know your boat in the water, and on land, too. When a child goes missing in Edmonton in winter, the call goes out on radio for everyone to look in their yards and garages and behind the shed, in case the missing child is shivering in some out-of-the way place. If your boat is on land, keep familiar with it in different ways from when you're on the water. If there's a tarp covering it that's got dust and leaves sifted into the folds and creases, I won't tease you! But you should be familiar enough with your boat and its cover to know if it's been moved by somebody. One day it might save somebody's life.

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