Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Don’t Do What I Did!

April 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Don't Do What I DidAt my favorite summertime retreat, Tolland State Forest in Massachusetts, I can pitch a tent and enjoy nature at its finest. Relaxation abounds, especially at the Otis Reservoir, a pristine body of fresh water that is ideal for swimming, boating, and fishing.

One year, our nature-loving group consisted of my husband, our two adult kids and their significant others, my nephew and niece and their two teenage sons. While the majority of the group chose to spend the afternoon hiking, my niece, Dawn, and I elected to rent a small motor boat and go fishing. It seemed like a great idea at the time and we were so excited.

Neither of us had ever piloted a boat before, but how hard could it be? We were unfamiliar with the concept of steering, but after the rental guy gave us some cursory instructions, we were ready to go. We boarded our craft, noticing that there was just one paddle inside. We momentarily wondered why there would be only a solitary paddle, but we dismissed the thought so that our adventure could begin.

Dawn got us underway while I navigated. We found a nice spot in the middle of the reservoir and cast our lines. After some time passed, we felt simultaneous tugs. Giddily certain that we had caught “the big ones,” we struggled to reel in our dinner. Suddenly, we saw that all we had caught was each other!

After taking the time to untangle our lines, we decided it was best for us to just cruise around and enjoy the scenery. However, we hadn’t noticed that the gentle current had maneuvered us close to the shoreline. Very soon, we were stuck on a bed of huge boulders.

Wedged into the rocks, it became clear to us what the oar was for — I grabbed it and struggled mightily to push us off the rocks. While the effort was great, the result was futile. After a half hour, we were still jammed in. Then we noticed the phone number of the rental place printed inside of the boat, and so we called for help. Though they promised to rescue us as soon as possible, I continued my efforts to release us from the rocks.

Eventually, my efforts (and maybe a change in the current) freed us. “Okay, let’s go,” I told Dawn, but all I heard was, “Putt, putt, putt.” Dawn refused to give it a good rev, reminding me that the rental guy had warned us not to go fast. “You could flip over,” he had cautioned. (Why didn’t he mention the rocks?)

We ended up heading directly towards the swimming area. So many big and little people were enjoying themselves, completely unaware of the bungling boaters heading towards them. I began flailing my arms and screaming, “Look out! Look out!” Yet no one seemed troubled by my warning, and not a single swimmer budged. They just stared at us. I guess they noticed that we were hardly moving.

A kind gentleman waded out to us, turned the boat in the right direction and gave us a good shove. Dawn became convinced that if she didn’t give the engine some gas, we would never get out of there. Maintaining an acceptable speed, we headed back (as we passed our rescuers on their way to save us, we waved). We realized that we were lucky to escape harm, and understood how much better the day would have been if we’d learned how to be safe boaters before we ventured out.

We reached the pier and noticed some kids sitting on its edge with their fishing rods, catching one right after the other. Shaking our heads, we got into the car and proceeded back to the campsite. This time, I drove!

By Linda Heit

Comments are closed.