Racing to SafetyIt was a beautiful day in June and I was paddling my 17' Perception Eclipse on the St. Lawrence River. The family was back at camp doing the weekend chores of mowing & spring cleanup. I figured I would take advantage of the glorious sunshine & relatively calm waters of the River and head out for an adventure. I paddled along the shore of Grindstone Island - "our island" - wanting to explore the bay adjacent to us; knowing that there is a lovely sand bottom beach, in which I can get out into the water of about a foot in depth to look for beach glass & other River treasures.
I was moving at a decent clip and checked to make sure that both ways were clear, as far as the eye could see, before making my way across. I had enjoyed my exploration for about an hour and was in a deep state of calm & quite relaxed. Feeling a bit guilty I decided that I should get back to help the family so I got back in my vessel and started to make my way back home.
I was about half way across the channel when I heard the distant rumble of engines. I looked to the North end of the channel and that is when I saw THEM and remembered…
THE POKER RUN WAS IN PROGRESS & NOW I WAS IN THE MIDST OF IT ALL!
What could I do? I couldn't paddle forward as the FIRST of the 30-plus foot cigarette/race boats turned into my bow and I couldn't paddle back; as I had another group of boats heading right towards me! I braced my legs in my thigh braces, said a little prayer and hoped that I was actually seen!
The first boat that went by must have been going around 80-plus miles/hr and the wake that it produced was at least a 5' wave. I held on and hoped for the best. After the leaders passed by, I paddled as fast as I could, nosing my way into the onslaught of waves. My heart was racing, my boat was taking on water and I was soaked by the time I got close to shore. Some onlookers from the shoreline were watching quite intently, making sure I was going to be alright. I gave them a wave once I got myself out of the path of the boats and felt I was out of harms way.
After I emptied my 'yak of water, I was still bobbing to and fro in the wake of the powerful boats, I felt the awesome power of being watched over; it was almost a mystical sense... until I looked up and saw a helicopter hovering over me! At first I wasn't sure exactly what he was up to; until I realized that he was photographing the poker run event. As I paddled for home that sense of peace was broken as I thought, OMG… I hope he didn't happen to take any pictures of me in my frantic state - I was only wearing my bikini! I have yet to see any photos posted on the internet.
Written by: Dawn E. Lewis - Liverpool, NY
For more great stories: See the Archive!
Got a story to share? Want free stuff?
We'd love to hear from you. If you've got a funny story, adventure or misadventure, or just want to sound off about something related to paddlesports, we want to hear from you. If we select your story to be published you will receive a $40 gift certificate to the Paddling.net Store. Just type up your story and email it to us at email@example.com