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Falling Apart

It was a very hot summer day in southwestern New Hampshire, more years ago than I care to remember. My wife and I were camping with our three children. The campground was forested, and as a result could be very warm when there was no breeze. The campground had a beach across the main road, and about a quarter of a mile down a dirt road. We decided, along with some friends who were camping with us to take all of the children and spend the afternoon on the beach.

We arrived at the beach without too many incidents other than a couple of scraped knees as one of mine and one of our friends children had tripped over rocks, as we made our way down the dirt road. Altogether, there were six adults and eight children.

The beach was rather a surprise. It was an area of 150' x 150' that had been cleared at the end of the dirt road that had been filled with beach sand. To our surprise, there was a small store that sold ice cream, candy, snacks and cold drinks. The store also rented kayaks and canoes.

Having never been in a kayak, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it. I paid my three dollars for a half-hour and was given a life vest and paddle and told to pick one of the kayaks. I selected a bright yellow kayak, and asked about instructions. The guy working the store, said just get in and paddle. That seemed simple enough so I dragged the yellow kayak, the 125 feet to the water finally setting it down on the water's edge.

I put on the life vest. Well I kind of put on the life vest. It just went over my head and I discovered the strap was to short to secure it around my waist. The kayak had floated on its own out about 6 feet from the edge of the beach. Next, it was time to squeeze into the little hole on top of the kayak. Where the kayak was there was about six inches of water.

I sat in the cockpit, and after a while, in many different contortions my legs were inside. After getting settled I realized that my bathing suit, had not appreciated the pulling in stretching as I went through the contortions. It was no longer a one-piece boxer style bathing suit. The darned thing had split almost into two pieces. The only thing holding it together, was the waistband. Well, at least the kayak was covering me. I decided to worry about the bathing suit after finishing my first adventure in a kayak.

As my paddles began digging into the water there seem to be something wrong! The kayak wasn't moving! It didn't take long for me to realize that I had got into the kayak without having enough water under it. This was solved by having several people who were nearby simply push the kayak out until it was floating. This worked very well. After about five strokes of the paddle a new problem had developed. This was a two-piece kayak! The top section was supposed to be attached to the bottom shell. To my dismay I discovered that the sections had become almost separated. Water was pouring in the front, which had taken on the look of a fish with its mouth open. It was definitely time for emergency procedures! I managed to get the two pieces, still partially attached shallow water where it came to rest on the bottom. This left me in a water filled kayak, with my almost two-piece bathing suit, sitting five feet from a beach filled with 75 to 100 happy campers enjoying their afternoon.

It was time to deal with my bathing suit issue. I began shouting to my wife was quite a way back from the shore. The noise of the other people on the beach drowned out by shouts. I began waving frantically, and finally one of my children noticed me. He told my wife will began waving back at me! Then I started motioning for her to come to where I was. She sent one of the children down to see what I wanted. I sent him back with the message "Bring me a large beach towel!"

The towel arrived and I managed to get it around myself and get out of the kayak. Now, I had to return the kayak and equipment. In the process of getting out of the kayak it had split completely in two! It must have been quite a sight to see a towel clad man in an orange life vest dragging a paddle and top and bottom of a kayak the width of the beach, to the store. The proprietor was giving me strange looks as I approached. He asked, what happened and I told him my tale of woe. His reply was not what I expected. He said simply, "I thought that was cracked!" I returned to the camper, changed and went fishing from shore. That seemed to be the safest thing to do!

Submitted by Paul Waldron - Brockton, MA

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