A friend gave me this sleek little surfing kayak; I was excited and suited up and went surfing.
So excited I didn’t think of attaching a leash (connecting me to kayak should I get dumped), forgot a life jacket, and was wearing a 15-year-old 4/5 mil wetsuit that was stiff from age.
You can see where this is going, right?
It was kinda rough in the channel, and I wasn’t in paddling shape, but I went out and got a small wave — and was impressed that the kayak surfed pretty well (which most kayaks don’t).
I was tired, thought I’d go in, but — maybe just one more wave. And got dumped.
The kayak headed shoreward and I was getting slowly swept out to sea in an outgoing current (heading towards a minus tide). Tried swimming while holding on to paddle, but was getting nowhere, so abandoned paddle. Tried swimming to shore but the suit was so stiff I could hardly raise my arms. PLUS the the way it floated me, I couldn’t get horizontal to swim. I couldn’t get closer to the beach. (Same beach where I was a lifeguard 60 years ago — ironic.
I didn’t panic, but was worried, even contemplative: what if I can’t get to shore? How long do I have? I mean, I’m a lifetime swimmer, surfer, swim instructor, lifeguard at Lake Tahoe, Santa Cruz, Stinson Beach, and this was the first time I couldn’t swim to where I wanted to go. Shit!
There were a couple of people on the beach. Guess I could wave arms and yell “Help!” but “…the shame of it all” (a la Lee Marvin in The Wild One. Kook!
Well lo and behold, here comes a surfer, towing my kayak out. I was too tired to climb aboard, so I grabbed the back of it and he started towing me to shore. Halfway there, a girl on a longboard paddled over, let me borrow it and I paddled on in.
The kindness of strangers.
My rescuer turned out to be Kater Murch, who I remember as a kid in town and who was now a physicist living in St. Louis and home for the holidays. (This was on the afternoon of Christmas eve.)
Beyond the call of duty.
You saved my ass, I said, and hugged him.
OK, OK, if I go kayaking again, I’ll use a leash, wear a lifejacket, and wear a new stretchy wetsuit.