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Kayak Entry - It's a Handful!

Sonia and I have 2 brand new kayaks and a perfect morning of flat, calm water out on Lake Tahoe. Sonia gets in hers, goes out on the water; says they are tipsier than a canoe. Makes sense as they draw less water and kinda' seem to ride on top of it (no deep keel action). So... I put mine in the water, not parallel to the shore, but perpendicular; rear end at the beach and parallel to the pier and rocks.

Well, the yaks have foldable seat backs and mine is adjusted straight up (big mistake!). I place my right foot into the craft, and lift up my left foot, so now my entire body weight is on my right leg heading for the kayak. Just then the seat collapses which leaves me nowhere to go when I get there, so I make a mid-stream decision to abort the direction I'm heading (towards a folded-down seat and a possible dunking). So I stop, pushing back off the right foot towards the sand so I can try this again after fixing the seat.

Here's where it comes unglued!

Remember how I said the craft doesn't draw much water? Well, you can guess what happens when I pushed off the kayak...it skated away towards Cave Rock, so now it is going north and I'm going south. Imagine my foot still in the kayak and me on a 35-degree angle, heading for the water, left side first --- at great speed!

Now, you will also recall I said I am parallel to the pier...and the many rocks underneath it. As I now realize, "I'm goin' down-down-down..." (As Bruce Springsteen would sing), I throw my left arm out in hopes of steadying myself, but before I can gauge where I am in relation to anything immobile, I crash into the water, landing on the back of my left hand...which, instead of the soft sandy bottom, has found a nice, big, solid granite boulder in the water to smash into! To top things off, the kayak capsizes on my right leg and begins filling with water.

Being in reactive mode, I bolt up, grab the kayak and try to lift it to dump the water out before it sinks. This isn't easy as water weighs a lot! But, I manage to do it. At this point I realize my hand hurts and I look at it and see three fingers cut (two rather badly) with blood all over them, and it kinda' doesn't feel right. I soak it in the icy Tahoe water, successfully get in my boat and start rowing out to catch up with Sonia, who has missed the entire fiasco that unfolded behind her.

Once I reach Sonia, I tell her what happened, and show her my hand, which has swollen a bit. Still, if I drag it over the side to chill it in the cold water, it seems better. We paddle on and eventually come back about 2 hours of kayaking later. My hand is getting bigger. A lot bigger. We carry the kayaks back to the garage and now I realize something is very wrong. My hand now looks like a big purple eggplant shoved into a Latex glove. And it hurts. It hurts a lot. Neighbor Joan, a former nurse, stops over to say she's going off the hill. I show her my hand; she agrees, "You've most likely broken it." Right on the money. I promise to ice it all day, and see how it is by morning.

By morning, it looks like a freaking bear claw pastry, but spending my last day at Tahoe in Urgent Care on a Friday is not what I really want to do, especially since we have to leave early Saturday, drive 8 hours, and be back home on time for the Fleetwood Mac concert Sat. night. I opt to eat Advil and use lots of ice. Ever notice how Advil looks like an M&M? I like M&M's!

Saturday, we get home and go to the show (which is great). But I don't dare clap my hands for any of it. I eventually call the Orthopedic Group and both hand specialists/surgeons are unavailable, one on vacation, the other booked up for a week! Eventually, I get in and they say, "Yup, you broke it". 5th metacarpal (outside, little finger from where the finger connects to the hand, that outside bone broke the knobby part where the knuckle is in two places so the middle sliver is pie shaped and sticking out). No surgery and a follow-up visit later, it still isn't right, but is getting better. After a while, I get tired of the knobby broken part, so I have a Captain Morgan and Dr. Pepper (maybe two) and then hit the hand against a concrete patio to force it back into place myself! And on the follow-up visit to the Ortho, they say, "Wow, this has improved a lot". Then I tell them why, to which they say, "Oh".

So there you go. Entering a kayak really is a handful!

Submitted by Scott Stoddard

For more great stories: See the Archive!


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