Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to travel across the waves in a one-man seafaring vessel. I affectionately christened my kayak 'HMS Dulse' (A play on HMS Repulse, also the name of a local delicacy in Northern Ireland that few of its inhabitants seem to enjoy).
Being all of captain, helmsman and rower, I had absolute liberty to travel anywhere in this still lough. That I did, taking in the sights of the encompassing woods, the tall rocks and the hilltop manor.
Paddling into Peril
But all was not to continue blissfully. Whilst in the waters, my craft was approached by one whom I believed to be an ally, one who was meant to be sailing in the same fleet and travelling on the same journey. He then proceeded to tilt my vessel with his paddle. He made use of the conveniently-placed handlebars that were on deck. Alas, the vessel soon keeled, taking both captain and paddle under the waves. Thankfully, I was wearing a life jacket. So this wasn't the point that my life (and this yarn) ended. I surfaced and continued, then made some observations that will be shared later.
I further note this happened to me no fewer than four times. Clearly, that old song 'Rock The Boat' ought to be banned for inciting so much maritime violence.
Now, the observations
- When sailing, always come armed.
- When on the waters, personalities change. Friends soon become foemen. It could be a sense of freedom that comes from rowing so far from civilisation and its constraints. Or it could simply be the salt in the air.
- It is impossible to see the bottom of the lake whilst underwater. I expected I would. Instead, all I could see was a cloudy haze.
- The cloudy haze does not taste like cloudy lemonade and I strongly recommend against drinking any.
- It is very difficult to swim against the current, even if it is a gentle current. Or it could be poor technique.
- The waves carry kayaks with the current. This is desirable when aboard and travelling in the same direction, less desirable when overboard and swimming to retrieve one's vessel.
- It is difficult to swim after accidentally swallowing water. This is likely how drowning occurs.
- Natural lake water doesn't taste like natural mineral water. Water bottling companies are lying.
The Ways of the Waterfowl
Whilst rowing across this lake, I had the chance to finally become one with the waterfowl. I'm always jealous of this rank of bird for they have the ability to both easily fly and swim. Being a man, to do the former I'd have to travel to another world with lighter gravity. For the latter, I'd have to pay for lessons. Either require more effort than I'm willing to exude. Thus, I approached the waterfowl in an attempt to learn more of their ways. Here are my observations:
Ducks: These never fly from danger. They know you are too slow and too clumsy to catch them. Thus they prefer to lure the rower, leading him in endless circles until exhaustion. Presumably at that point he will be set upon by an arranged ambush from the other ducks (signalled by a quack at a pitch everyone of them know) and all artefacts of bread pillaged.
Terns: These are much lazier. They will goad you along the road for a short while, then suddenly take to flight. The tern's destination? Elsewhere in the lake.
Geese: I couldn't find any on this lake. This was a good thing; I haven't a death wish.
Back to shore, would I again take the oar?
Yes. We've nothing to fear from the waves, except drowning, geese and other people.