Wow! What a year!

curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

So it's been an interesting year. I started 2020 with a polar bear dip. The coldest water I've ever been in. And the other day I ended the year with another dip in 48 F water just to complete the cycle. However, like most of 2020, this wasn't exactly planned.

I haven't been swimming this year except for a brief stint this summer. The lake was a welcome respite and I really enjoyed a little time back in the water. But by October, the water was just too cold for me and so I ended my season.

I haven't been going to the pool because we have a system that you have to reserve your lane spot for the week. Apparently the schedule is full almost immediately. I remember back in my younger years that if you wanted a good lane position, you kind of had to have a good qualifying time. I liked that system, but I'm not sure that the local pool would support that. We'd wipe out the aerobics ladies, that's for sure.

Anyway, my kayaker and I thought it would be fun if we got another kayak and I accompanied her out on the lake this winter. She would get to paddle around and actually chat with me as we looked at eagles and ducks and stuff. And I would get to enjoy the sights in bigger chunks than half second glimpses every third stroke.

We got a kayak and some gear, like a PFD and I found the top of a dry suit at the second hand sports store. It was a bargain. Also got some neoprene booties and gloves. Got the sump pump because I think that's required. And a whistle.

So off we go on our maiden voyage. Nice day. Water 48 F and air a little bit cooler. But sunny and calm. Perfect for my first time out. We started heading out on one of our usual swim routes which takes us across the lake to a point that's a mile out. I was doing pretty good for a first timer. I kind of got the hang of paddling and could keep in a reasonably straight line. We were about a half mile out and my kayaker stopped for a drink of water. I'd forgotten my water, so she offered hers. We just needed to get the boats together and I'd grab a sip.

I said that there was some sort of sculling stroke that you can do to get the boat moving sideways. So of course I tried it, not actually knowing how to do it. I leaned into the paddle and started trying to scull. And that's when I gracefully leaned the kayak over and I went into the drink. Ten minutes into the maiden voyage and I flip the darn thing! It was like the infamous sinking of the warship Vasa.

Water felt pretty good as it was warmer than the air. But it was cold for sure. It's a sit in kayak, but I got out pretty easily. My kayaker wanted to do the official rescue thing where you get the bow up on the other kayak and pour the water out, but I didn't want to screw around with that. The kayak was floating, but low in the water. I just had her steady my boat and I climbed on from the back. I kept aligned with the long axis and scooted up to the cockpit. Then I straddled the boat and grabbed the sump pump (required for a darn good reason). I had to pump quite a bit to get the boat reasonably empty. Then I popped back into the kayak and we were on our way. I was sitting in sort of a puddle with my stupid wet jeans, but amazingly I wasn't too cold.

My kayaker wondered if we should head for shore, but since I wasn't too cold, we paddled around a bit more and she started trying to teach me how to paddle correctly and balance the kayak etc. It was pretty fun and I'm looking forward to going out again. However I think I now have a little more respect for my kayaker. She makes it look pretty easy. I always thought she was just being a stickler for marathon swimming rules when she forbid me to touch her boat, but actually, I now know that these things are kind of a balancing act and me touching her boat unsettles the whole thing. I'm pretty sure some of the waves that she hits would flip me in a second, so I guess I'm kind of impressed. She and I determined that she's pretty good on the water and I'm a little more comfortable in the water.

So that's my story which is in keeping with the theme of 2020. We all start out with plans, but things change and we adapt. Life and marathon swimming. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and let's hope that next year doesn't flip us into the drink!



  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member

    I love this story Curly! Glad you weren’t mangled in the process of breaking in your new ride, and I join you in raising a toast to all the kayakers out there who look so serene and graceful while paddling like hell to make it seem so easy.


    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...

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