Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the rules of the boat

(photo by Nick Adams)

1. The boat is not a democracy.
2. Never let go of the boat.
3. Always disembark upstream.
4. Aim for the V.
5. Hold onto your paddle.
6. Engage both short and long range sensors.
7. A canoe needs water to float in. Not much. But some.
8. Standing waves can be fun.
9. Barking orders is acceptable. In an emergency, politeness is a waste of time.
10. The boat is not a democracy. (It bears repeating.)

Those of you who know me are well aware that I'm not someone who naturally follows orders. I ask why, I countermand, I suggest alternatives. But not in the canoe. When you have someone as skilled as Michael in the stern, it's a joy to let him take charge.


I'd paddled on NH lakes in my YMCA camp childhood and on the Delaware as an adult, but neither of these required acute judgment or fast decision making. The John River was an education.

On the John there was no time for shilly-shallying. We'd hear the riffle of shallow water and have only seconds to decide if the water was deep enough to float our boat. (Amazingly, we only ran aground once during the week.) A canoe requires surprisingly little water to float; 6 inches was plenty with our load.


Were those standing waves the result of high water volume (in which case, they'd provide a fast, fun ride) or did they signal an underwater rock or log (in which case, no fun at all)? Would the fast current take us too close to the sweepers on the far bank? ("Paddle like you've never paddled before!")

(photo by Nick Adams)

Don't agonize. Remember the rules, make the best choice you can, and commit to your decision. With any luck your reward will be a beedi on the beach and a welcoming camp fire.

(photos by Nick Adams)





5 Comments:

At August 23, 2011 at 10:40 PM , Anonymous frank@nycg said...

Very sound. Any rapids?

 
At August 24, 2011 at 8:44 AM , Anonymous Leda Meredith said...

I'll keep the rules of the boat in mind - R. wants to go canoeing, and is definitely more experienced than I am.

 
At August 25, 2011 at 12:23 PM , Blogger Marie said...

Haha, I don't see Michael tolerating democracy in the boat, no!

I think Vince and I discussed things way too much when paddling, but we did not have standing waves.

 
At August 26, 2011 at 7:01 PM , Anonymous Zoe said...

Oh, wow. This scenery looks so amazing. Whether you're in the front or back of the boat, I think it is a feeling of mightiness... working with the water like that.

 
At February 20, 2012 at 2:35 AM , Anonymous long island used boats said...

Looks like you had a really great trip, thank you very much for sharing it.

 

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