Messing about in Boats, Simply Messing

May 11, 2009 at 12:32 am | Posted in Canoe Training | Leave a comment
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garden 004“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,” – Ratty from the Wind in the Willows.

This weekend Mahsa and I spent our first day out on the river. Up until this point we had practiced our canoeing on lakes and ponds. With a beautiful weather forecast and a hankering to get in a full day of canoeing we headed to the Charles River.

We put in at the Community Rowing Boat House just down from Water Town. garden 003Deciding to experience what it is like to spend a good chunk of time paddling upstream (something we will have to do on our trip) we took a left off the boat launch and headed against the current… All was good and fine as we meandered our way upstream. We passed the Newton Yatch Club, some kayaks, another boat house and various groups of people fishing. We also saw a Great Blue Heron and many jumping fish. A Great Blue Heron incidentally is the very kind of bird that cause my very first traffic incident. I was 17 and driving by a park when I saw a Heron just standing on the curb. Now these are particularly large birds with a bit of a prehistoric look to them that makes them startling to look at. I was so mesmerized that I ran up on the opposite curb and nicked a fire hydrant. Whoops!

It has  been awfully rainy her in Boston for the past couple of weeks. A pleasant result of the rain though has been to make the area lush and garden 009bursting with color. The trees along the river were many varied colors of green and positively thick with foliage. Every now and then there would be a tree with striking blue, pink or red flowers that just pops against the greens. Amidst such lush greenery it was simply quite easy to loose sight of the fact that on either side of the river are incredibly busy streets.

As we passed a dock where a couple of people were fishing we noticed a considerable increase in the strength of the current. As we neared a bridge we could really see that the water was running quite high after all the rain. The current continued to pick up and as we went under the bridge and during our first attempt the current pushed us sideways and spun us right our and and out from under the bridge. So, we obviously underestimated the power garden 007of the current. We righted our self around and when in for a second try. I was in the rear of the canoe, so I was doing the steering. I just kept yelling, power paddle! We made it under the bridge and around the next bend feeling like we were paddling through Jello. It was getting so hard. Just as we rounded the next bend white churning water caught my eye. Oh my! We were below a dam! The Water Town Damn to be exact. Now, lest you think that we neglected to consult a map before heading out on the water, we didn’t. We actually consulted many maps. What none of our maps did was accurately marked the distance from the between the boat launch and the dam…plus on no side of the dam was there a SIGN for the dam.

Upon seeing the turbulent waters ahead we promptly let the  current turn us around and high tailed it out of the situation. We then proceeded with the much easier task of paddling down stream for some miles.

This downstream venture was much more to our liking. We were able to practice our strokes more and take in the scenery too. It was fun to go under the big bridges that I normally only bike over. We chatted with a few fellow canoers and a few kayakers.

garden 013After floating working our way down the river for sometime we decided to turn around and head back to the boat launch. Unfortunately this meant once again throwing ourselves against the current, this time with a wicked head wind. Ugh! For twice as long as we paddled down stream we worked our way back. You could tell that we were tiered and ready to be done because we stopped talking much and really gave up on good technique. Eventually we slogged our way onto the boat dock and lugged our canoe and tired limbs to the car. Oh what a day on the river!

The day brings to mind a scene favorite scene from “the Wind in the Willows” where Ratty takes Mole on is first ride in a boat. The two head off to a pic nic down river and Mole is over the moon with excitement about his new life.The way in which ole Ratty describes his life on the river is much how I felt upon reflection of the prospect of spending weeks on rivers come this summer.

“It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It’s my world and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t  know is  not worth knowing. Lord! the times we’ve had together! Whether in winter or summer, spring or autumn, it’s always got is fun and its excitements…”

Well put Ratty, well put indeed.

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