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God Bless Her, and All Who Sail In Her

sunny 38 °C

The main job today, after a lengthy lie because of last night's activities, was to get on the water and go canoeing/kyacking. A group of us, Brits and Aussies, pooled our cars and made our way down to the Colorado River.

I'm not great in water, let alone a hollow piece of plastic that's bobbing in the water. I remember at one Army camp when I had to do a kyack test; the test involved flipping upside down so that your body was submerged in water, banging three times on the upturned kyack and either flipping back over or slipping out of the kyack to the surface. Well I failed that test - obviously not fatally - but enough to know that when I was down on the banks of the Colorado I really wasn't too keen on another kyack. I was fortunate that an Aussie wanted to team up in a canoe, and although a little bit Pocahontas, I had my bright blue life jacket on (I was the only one wearing one!) and it suited me just fine. In honour of its British and Australian crew our canoe was commissoned onto the Colorado as the Commonwealth.

We started off great. The Commonwealth's crew was just a tad competitive so we started beating a fast pace up to the nearest bridge. Of course, everyone else soon lost interest and we were left paddling up stream on our own. This bridge is a local tourist attraction The underside of the bridge is carpeted with Mexican free-tailed bats' nests and at night millions of them leave to hunt. It was obviously pretty silent whilst we were there. Nonetheless, we were there first. It turned out that the rest of our cohort had gone down a split in the river. We turned ourselves around and made our way down there to meet them. On the way we passed terripins hunting in the water and lazing around on branches.

As anyone who has been rowing/canoeing/on water with me before knows, it doesn't take much for me to get involved in some kind of water fight. Well on this occasion an Aussie made to splash us with her paddle (or at least I think she did) and so I flicked my wrists and made sure I got in first. Of course, I couldn't stop there - so I stood up in the canoe to get more leverage with the paddle. This plan sounds perfect and in my head it did too. The only problem was that in practice this strategy completely backfired. As much as I can't right myself in an upturned kyack, I can't balance standing in a canoe either. Within moments of standing up and taking a swipe in the river the Commonwealth's crew were in the river and headed downstream. I was really glad I had put my flourescent life jacket on. It was odd that my first instinct was to save my flip-flops and bottle of water rather than see that the canoe and my other crew member had survived (or maybe its not odd?). We lined ourselves up on opposite sides of the capsized canoe and had a brilliant idea to right it. '1 ... 2 ... 3 ...' and we were able to turn it over. The problem was that we also turned it over full of water. Almost immediately the Commonwealth began heading down to share stories with the Titanic. "Turn it back, turn it back!" We just about managed to get it over and by the time we had done we were joined by a pair of curious Americans. Then told us to take hold onto the backs of their canoes with one hand and the Commonwealth's bow with the other. We were quite a sight being torn apart by the opposing forces of the kyackers paddling hard to the banks and the current of the river dragging the canoe downstream. We soon hit land, righted the Commonwealth and thanked that we hadn't packed our camera or anything else electronic.

Today's lesson; be balanced before taking a swipe with your paddle.

M

Posted by MattOGrady 19:58 Archived in USA

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