Fall Row 2012: A Race?

People were right about Blake Island State Park: it was woodsy and touristy, although the tourists didn’t seem to venture into the woods.  I liked it for what it was, but it was time to move on.

B2 and I glided happily out of the harbor, momentarily forgetting the morning wind that had made rowing such a challenge.   Our next destination was Bainbridge Island, just a few miles north, where I’d visit my old friend Carol and her family.

Rowing dead into the wind in a Guideboat (which has pinned oars) turns those oars into little parachutes that catch the breeze and fling drops of water – which usually blow back onto me – and occasionally take the top off a wave and heave splashes everywhere.  I love rowing in weather, so I welcomed the increasing chop, swell, and spay.  B2 mostly hid under the dry bags.

It soon became apparent that two sailboats and I were on the same course: and a race was on!  One, a beamy, blue keelboat, had a steady, persistent gait.   Further behind me was a white racing catamaran.  Not my style, but it was admirably swift.  Both were pointing as high as they could and neither seemed likely to cross my path   And unlike the container ships I so feared, these boats were likely to see me and take evasive action to avoid running me down.  Considering the conditions, I made good time against the blue boat.  It didn’t seem to be gaining much on me, and the effort to keep it at bay made me row harder to stay ahead.

Rapidly coming up in the rear, the catamaran was clearly going to overtake my current opponent.  On and on it came, until the crew was visible.   We made eye contact, but the captain didn’t see me  – or didn’t want a closer look at my puny craft.  Like those oft-misbehaving motor cruisers, the catamaran approached too close for comfort; then the crew stared, as if unable to believe that a small, loaded boat like mine would venture this far from  shore.  Reluctant to let go of my oars and wave, I gave them my biggest smile, nodded to them and checked casually on the blue boat, still some ways distant.  I was soon left behind with their wake  – and my remaining competitor.

The blue boat gradually gained on me, but in the half hour or so we were together I grew fond of the craft, which pulled away as I entered the lee of Bainbridge Island.   I can’t prove it, but the blue boat’s crew seemed like better sports and to look on me more kindly than those yahoos in the catamaran.

When I neared my rendezvous point, I drifted lazily along, tidying up the cockpit.  I looked at the people on the shore and felt like an adventurer pulling into a foreign port after a long voyage.  Although many sailors had traversed these waters, Carol greeted me as if my arrival by boat was something out of the ordinary.  And for me, it was.

[Check in next week for: Floating Vagabond]

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