13 June 2009

Keep Off Grass

No, this is not a drug awareness advertisement.  In retrospect, I wish it was.  

Yesterday, I left around 8:30pm to go over to Akula (3 miles away) for another jog around Fox Lake and some reading on the tundra.  Remember, I was driving a boat because we don't have a road or a bridge between here and there.  (Never mind, neither of those between here and Anchorage 400 miles away.)  

I did not bring the ore 
because I had a box
 of painting supplies to bring to a friend and a bag with boating stuff.  Plus, I had a bag for myself with my book and coat. Ores have a tendency to "grow legs," as the guy who sold it to me said.  So, I didn't want to have to carry all of it.  I suppose I could have just risked it and left it in the boat.  I looked at that ore and justified not bringing it because of all the other junk.  It won't happen again.

The sun was shining in my eyes and I got into a little bit of grass.   Yes, I was probably daydreaming too.  It seemed like a little bit of grass until I realized it was flanking me.  The grass was 6-8 inches below the surface of the water and it's a continuous circuit of roots and mud for who knows how far.  It was too close to the propeller to start the engine, even with it pulled up.  Those of you not familiar with boats, the engine's angle in the water can be adjusted.  My Yamaha 20 HP weighs about 100 lbs., so to adjust mine upward requires me pulling up while pressing my knees against the transom, the back part of the boat supporting the engine. As I was figuring this out, the wind pushed me into even higher, aka more dense, grass.  I used a 3 foot, ~10 lb. (heavy) steal bar to push out of that grass some.  Luckily, That was in there for weight in the bow (thanks Pete).

Once out of that muck, then, I got turned around again.  This time the grass was ten-fold, taller, and adjacent to some bushes.  I was thinkng there was an opening, a path between the grass.  Obviously not.  The wind kept pushing me further into the thicker grass.  I stood on top of the seat for a few minutes contemplating my next move, kind of hoping someone in the nearby houses would see me.  They couldn't have done anything differently then what I did next, lest their boat be in a jam too.  
In that bag of boating supplies there was a rope, in case a tow be needed.  I tied myself to the boat so the wind didn't pull it away from me.  Then, what would I do?  It was Southern wind, so at least it was warm, but it still didn't favor me at the time.  Rather, I didn't favor it!  Remember the sun was out too.  The water might have been 50 degrees.  

Anyway, I tried to go one way, but I couldn't pull the boat over the grass.  I trudged back the other way about 200 yds.  I was in the water up to the top of my thighs most of the time, sometimes my waist.  As I walked along the top of the grass it would give way; it is floating after all.  I could feel the roots pressing in the bottom of my tennis shoes.  It felt strong, but I had to be aware that I might punch through at any given point or I could walk off the edge of one of the plots.  I've never walked on it before and it is in the middle of a river.  Maybe I was in a lake at that point.  The wind steadily blew at my side.
When I tried to get back into the boat the first time I fell in, not all the way, but up to my waist, getting my cotton sweatshirt wet.  It was kind of a high climb for me to swing my leg and as I did the wind pushed the boat back about 5 feet.  Finally, I pushed it out further, to what I thought might be the edge of the grass, and I made it in (aka rolled over the side hoping not to bust a knee cap).  I had to quickly start the engine, which meant pushing in this key clip, putting the engine in the water (not all the way, another adjustment), and pulling the rope.  I meandered my way out of there.

I made it to Akula just before 10:00pm.  At my granny pace it has been taking me just under 30 minutes to get over there.  I must have been in the water close to an hour pulling that boat, maybe 40 minutes.

I didn't jog around Fox Lake.  I was wet and uncertain of how my return would be.  I also didn't see my friend to deliver the box.  It's a good thing that there are construction guys staying in the school, so I just left it in their room.  I wrung out my shirt and headed back for the boat.

I ended up almost going right back into the same trap.  The water has gone down slightly, but I'm still a little perplexed about how I got so disoriented, twice, no thrice.  Usually, I'm Miss Magellan.  

So, I turned around and went the long way home, which I knew would be deep water.  It's twice as long though; that is another hour in the boat.  I was shivering and my finger dexterity wasn't top-notch by the time I made it inside.  It probably took me an hour to warm up, which included doing jumping jacks, jogging in place, and drinking hot tea.  ^_^

It was a good experience, but I don't want to have another one like it.  Once is enough.  

Maybe we need a few of these signs out here on buoys, "Keep Off Grass." 

1 comment:

Ay'atang'aq said...

whew! I'm so glad you are OK, and that you decided against the trip to Bethel.