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Self-Launch!

On a cold morning last winter my kayaking buddy, Tony called and asked if I wanted to go kayak fishing on Olalla Lake. I jumped at the chance, even though it was cloudy, and 40 degrees, but that's typical for the Oregon coast in March. He arrived about 8 am; we loaded my boat in his pickup and hit the road.

We stopped at the sporting goods store and picked up some new line for Tony's reel on the way, so when we arrived at the lake I unloaded my kayak while he replaced his old line.

"Go ahead and start!" he said, so I dragged my boat down to the ramp and got ready. The lake was really low for some reason, (certainly not from lack of rainfall,) and the ramp was steep and muddy. The kayak kept trying to launch itself because of the slippery mud and the incline, so I decided to get in and just slide into the water. I got one foot in and the boat took off with me half in and half out, the paddle in my right hand.

What a catastrophe! The kayak picked up speed and hit the water on its side. No matter how frantically I pushed on the water with my left hand, the boat just rolled on over and I went for a swim. The first thing I thought of was the camera in my sweatshirt pocket, and I grabbed it and held it above water as I waded back to the shore. I laid it on a rock and looked back at the disaster; the kayak was upside down and full of water, my little tackle box, my creel, cap and dry bag were floating, but my fishing pole and sunglasses were on the bottom in about 6 feet of water. I waded back in and started retrieving my gear. I was chest deep in the lake trying to drag my favorite fishing rod toward me with my paddle when Tony backed his truck down the ramp to unload his sit-on-top kayak. He took one look at me and said "Uh Oh!" (At least he didn't say 'Whatchya doin, Bob?")

After we retrieved everything, I said, "Let's go ahead and try this again, I'll dry out eventually." Tony, being a Paramedic and a lot smarter than me, said, "I don't think so!" I took off my sweatshirt, which had soaked up enough water that the lake had dropped several more inches, and started to wring it out, still thinking about toughing it out and going fishing. It was then that the cold hit me and I started shivering and shaking. I realized that Tony was right.

"Get out of those wet clothes," he said, " I've got a sweat suit on under my outer clothes and you can wear that." So after promising each other not to look, we undressed and I put his triple X-size sweatsuit on my 145 pound frame. I can't describe how good it felt to put on that warm clothing even though it draped on me like a tent. I sat in the truck shivering with the heater going on high while Tony loaded my boat and soggy gear.

As we headed home I realized how lucky I am to have a kayaking buddy who is willing to literally give me the clothes off his back.


Submitted by: Bob Cleland - Waldport, OR

For more great stories: See the Archive!


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