Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Rescue – The Detailed Story

A very large storm was coming.  It had been predicted for days.  I saw it was only going to last half a day, and I love storms at the cottage, so I went up anyway.  The pre-storm had SW gales up to 50 klicks, and I was enjoying it on the deck.  We have a high view, so I can see everything.  The waves were 2 feet on our end of the lake, but the south half has the whole reach in the SW direction, and it always builds up a good wave, much higher.

So, it was with great surprise, that I saw an entire day-care centre paddling broadside to the waves right under my nose.  I was the only one in the bay, and practically the only one on the lake.  The had 2 adult paddlers towing another canoe with 3 5-year-olds.  The other canoe had 2 ten-year-olds and a grandma at the back.  It was amazing they came this far in the full reach.  They should have taken the north shore which was in the lee of the wind.  Even if they had done this, they wouldn't have survived the main reach.

They were paddling in circles, well flagged, and being driven against the cliff.  I still couldn't believe what I was seeing, but I got the big boat ready.  I knew it was a nasty storm because my cell signal had completely vanished, and I couldn't get a radar picture for the thunderstorms.  I kept looking at the sky.

By the time I got there, the mom was out of the canoe trying to hold it away from the cliff.  I said to them that I could tow them, or we could wait out the storm.  They were in a hurry, and there was nothing happening in the sky.  If something had been bearing down on us, they wouldn't have had a choice.  The adults, brother and sister, decided they would paddle, and I towed the rest.  Halfway there, it was too dangerous, so I put everybody in the boat.  The tiny kids were terrified of Roxie the rescue dog, but we threw them in anyway.  Roxie was very polite.

I towed the empty canoes to the marina, and was surprised to see the OPP boat.  There was nobody on the lake for them to harass.  I said hi, and told them what we were doing, and they just wanted to know if we were okay.  I suppose they were responding to something.

Dumping them at the marina, I went back for the two paddlers.  They had just got into the full reach, and I was watching them paddle as hard as they could and not getting anywhere.  I had been in that situation many times.  So I came in close, dinged the damn prop, and got them loaded up.  They were so nice, they wanted to cross the nasty strait, but I said their family was waiting for them

Reminded me when I was in a camp and we were in the same situation.  I think I was 12.  A cottager rescued the whole group.  We pay these things forward.

Safety Note – Canoeing is like driving the 401 in winter.  You have to allow for a bad day, and just stay put.  Do not be crazy.  There is no way these guys would have made it, and I've seen the lake much worse.  They were lulled by the lake being glass smooth the last time they went.  Today it is glass smooth again.

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