I was pretty much terrified to take my phone out of my backpack and out of the plastic baggie I had it in. What if I dropped it in the water? I'm not sure I would survive.
I started the trip with a selfie while my dad was getting his water shoes from the car (something I'll later wish I had), because did the trip even happen if there are no selfies?
Look, a LAKE!
Let me just say that this was my first ever kayaking experience, ever. EVER. I have a couple of friends that kayak on the reg (one of which had a pretty terrifying fight for his life and wrote about it here), and they always make it look super fun. I can do that, I said. Plus, it's on my bucket list.
What is this, a kayak for ants?
I think they misplaced the rest of my boat. I guess I shouldn't complain, it is, after all, not the size of the boat that counts.
So we get out on the water, and after a shaky start I totally got this. We mostly paddled within 50-100 yards of the shore because the wind wasn't as fierce and there were fewer other boats to cause waves. We had fun and made fun of each other, and made a pit stop to eat some Zapp's jalapeno chips, my dad's fave. Then we pit-stopped again so I could pee in a real restroom. (I'm not super high maintenance, but if there's a real toilet available, I'm peeing in it. No thanks, trees.)
Now is the part where we circle around one end of the lake to come back up the other side. We paddled slowly, well I did, and my dad wanted to go look at something so he got pretty far in front of me. It's at this point, when he's about 100 yards away, that I start to realize that something isn't right. I know I'm new at this, but is there supposed to be all of this water in the boat? It also became extremely difficult to balance. Every tiny wave felt like a monsoon that was going to flip me over, and I would have to stop and hold my paddle parallel with the water like a tightrope walker to keep my balance. I slowly made my way over to him and gave him my backpack. I knew something was wrong. I wasn't going to make it back to shore without falling off of this sumbitch, and my
life phone was in there.
He watched me paddle around him, and just as he said "Why are you so low on the water?" a wave from a jetski capsized me.
I swear, it was like 15 seconds after I handed him my bag with my phone in it. Thank the LAWD.
Of course clumsy Meg falls off of the yak. Story of my life. If something embarrassing happens to someone in the group, it's always me. (Because I know this about my luck, I will never, ever go skydiving or ride in a hot air balloon. No point in tempting fate.) I flipped my boat back over and managed to get back on it (after several tries), but I could never get upright. The best I could do was lay on my stomach on it, like you do when you're paddling a surfboard. Plus, every time I would get on it, it would sink down into the water. Talk about making you feel fat. That's a dick move, kayak. I wound up having to swim to shore with it, which was only about 50 yards away.
Oh, and my hat and sunglasses? Totally didn't fall off when I fell in. And when my flip flops fell off they floated to the surface. Fuck yeah, cute accessories ftw.
When I got close to shore, my dad sat in my yak
to make sure I wasn't a fuck up to try to figure out the issue.
His paddle is touching the ground here.
Once he got a little further out, it started to sink again.
So we pulled it up onto dry land. Hey, I don't remember this thing being that heavy...
OH COOL, that's because it's full of water.
The kayak is laying flat here, not propped up to drain the water out.
When I say "full of water", I mean full of water.
Well that explains why I couldn't get back on it. Every time I would pull myself up on the yak, the water on the inside would shift and because of physics, I would flip over the other side. (SCIENCE!) It also explains why every wave made me feel like I was going to flip, AND why I kept going so slow. But the question is, how did that water get in there?
It's not the size of the boat that matters, it's whether or not it has a giant gash in the bottom of it.
We guessed about 10-15 gallons of water drained out. Do you know how much heavier that makes a kayak? If a gallon of water weighs 8.35lbs, then at 15 gallons that's an extra 125lbs I was carrying. (MATH!) No wonder my arms are so sore, that's damn near double my body weight.
But how did I make it this far without realizing? It had been over 2 hours of yakking at this point. Remember those pit stops we made? Each time we stopped, some water would slowly drain out.
Aw, cute. Water draining out the gash.
So at this point, what are my options? I'm on an "island" at the far end of the lake and I have to get back to the rental place. Should I swim with it?
Nah, I'll just haul ass.
So I did. I swear, paddling a kayak is so much easier when it's not full of water. It started to fill up again, and since I knew what was happening I could tell the difference between how it was supposed to be and how it was. We made 3 stops to drain the water and eat our picnic before we got back to the rental place.
I didn't get hurt, except for a small cut on the bottom of my foot (I might buy some water shoes for next time), fitting since there was a cut on the bottom of my kayak, and some bruises on my arms. I didn't drown because I can swim and I also had on a life jacket. The life jacket made it a billion times easier when I was trying to flip my boat back over, I'll tell you that.
Would I go again? Hell yeah! I think next time I want to paddle down a river. (Maybe I'll even try to rent a kayak that isn't busted. Maybe.)
Lessons I learned:
1 - Inspect your boat if you're renting it, like you would do to a car. What if I had been alone? Would I have been able to lift the kayak to drain the water? I damn sure would have lost all of my stuff.
2 - Life jackets are SO important! I can swim, but having the life jacket on was the difference between me being able to flip my boat back over and not. You also have to think about unpredictable currents - even in lakes.
3 - I need to get a waterproof phone case. The thought of losing my phone was more stressful than the thought of having to swim across the lake with kayak in tow.