The Waters Above, The Waters Below


I got wet Sunday. Absolutely soaked.

Which sort of makes sense, since I spent hours in the Tennessee River, but I don’t know that anything above my calves actually got wet from the river.

I had the opportunity Sunday to go kayaking for just my second time, and had a great time. I had seen that there was a possibility it might rain, so I told the person that invited me that I would defer to him on weather we needed to cancel because of weather. Not a drop of rain fell until immediately after we got in the water, at which point the bottom fell out. Motor boats were coming back into dock as we were putting out, their occupants looking at us as if we were crazy. John had actually told me ahead of that he may be the wrong person to defer to, since he’s gone sailing in lightning before, which is arguably a bad idea. I replied that I was expendable, and he said that if it got too bad, it would make either a great story for us to tell, or a great story to be told at our funerals. And there are worse things in life, right?

As it turned out, we weren’t in any danger Sunday, though there was lightning in the distance for a while. But it was rather exhilerating while the rain lasted — it’s been quite a while since I’ve been outside that long in rain coming down that hard. Eventually, it cleared up, and we dried out slightly.

There were three in my group — myself; John, whom I go to church with, and who has participated in many kayak races; and Randy, who organizes multiple weekly kayak events, and who holds the speed record for the route we paddled Sunday. In other words, two serious kayakers, and a guy going out for his second time. My goal was just to not slow the others down too badly. That said, I was pleased with how much I remembered from the first time, over a year ago. I was pretty pathetic that time, but managed not to get grounded once this time. So, progress.

The advantage of John being a rather serious kayaker is that he had a rather serious arsenal of kayaks, each with different features. The one he picked for me was rather interesting — in addition to serving as a conventional kayak, it had a second mode in which it could be operated with pedals and a rudder, propelled by “flippers” underneath. (It actually could also serve as a sailboat, but that would require the addition of additional parts, which we didn’t bring with us.)

I pedaled for a while. Part of the reason that I stopped was that my legs got tired and I wanted to switch back to my arms, part of it was that I couldn’t get quite the same feel for moving through the water with the pedals, and part of it was that the kayak couldn’t be maneuvered as well or as easily. But possibly the biggest part was that I just felt downright silly pedalling was John and Randy were wielding their paddles like real kayakers.

And, apparently, I’m a bit competitive. Myself, I thought I was just trying to keep up, but John and Randy both agreed that they could see a competitive streak in the way I would paddle just a bit harder when someone would pull too far out. And maybe so. This time, I really do feel like I was just trying not to slow down the masters, but I’ll cop to the fact that I probably did the same thing last year.

Regardless, it was very encouraging when, at the end, John and Randy both said we’d made pretty good speed around the island, and that I did pretty well. I look forward to doing it again sometime.

One Response

  1. I was with you until you suggested that you might be a little competitive. That’s just crazy talk.

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