the rules of the boat
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!")
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.