Friday, August 08, 2008

Danger And Rescue On The High Seas...

OK, so my day REALLY consisted of a lake, a dinghy, a near spill in the drink, and an almost removed fingernail...but it DID include a rescue!

As you may have been able to figure out by my plethora o' posts on CHEESE this week, I've had a bit of free time on my hands. I'm currently on my 6 day furlough from my job, so I've had a few moments to catch my breath, catch up on my blog reading, and catch up on spending time with dear friends. Today's activity included the latter.

My friend and now retired work side kick, Merrinuts, invited me for a boating outing that was just my style...a dinghy ride up the Sammamish Slough for a picnic on a bright, Seattle day. You may recall, I've been on the Merrinuts sailing craft before in my prior post, Adventures Aboard The Caranda . And you may recall, my only sailing experience has been aboard a Washington State Ferry and sailing small craft in my bathtub at a young age...neither, of which, qualifies me to knowledgeably respond to a call for "all hands on deck". So the thought of a small, inflatable boat with a motor in somewhat shallow waters in the slough between Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish seemed ideal.

I met Ms. Merrinuts at the marina and boarded the Caranda only long enough to step off the back of the sailboat and into the dinghy that awaited at the stern (or is that the bow? No, I think the back of the boat is the stern...sigh). We quickly motored away from the marina and into the open waters of Lake Washington, crossing the area of the lake where float planes come and go (I only know THIS because Ms. Merrinuts "used" to be a pilot...her life degenerated somewhere along the way...LOL). It was a beautiful, albeit somewhat cool day initially on the water. We traveled eventually up the slough, taking note of the many "duck butts" in the water (aka, ducks diving with only their butt's sticking up out of the water...hence the term "duck butts") and searching for turtles. It was a gorgeous day.

After a short time on the water, a park appeared where we could push ashore and tie up the dinghy. I carefully stepped my way out of the flotation device (dinghy) so as not to fall face first in the slough muck while I got my land legs back (and my MS body uncurled)...something I'm sure Ms. Merrinuts would have wet her pants to see. We then climbed up to a bench in the sun and proceeded to eat wonderful Subway sandwiches and chips and catch up on the happenings of our lives (the sandwiches were "wonderful" because neither one of us had to MAKE them!). It was a great day.

On the way back from the park to the marina, I was promoted to "captain" and got to learn the fine points of the outboard motor and steering...I did OK with my new role, even if I must say so myself. I didn't ONCE run us aground, hit any bridge pylons, or run over any "duck butts". Captain Stubing (of the "Love Boat"?!? DUH!) would have been proud (as would the captain of the Minnow from Gilligan's Island...hehe).

When we reached the open waters of Lake Washington, we noticed an Asian family stalled in a motor boat and attempting to row their way (with only one oar) out of the float plane landing area. Ms. Merrinuts (being the kind humanitarian she is) decided to check out the situation and see if we could offer a hand. It appeared the larger motor boat had stalled in the water, most likely due to sea weed, and the engine had overheated. The family was stuck on the lake (or up a creek without a paddle) and didn't seem to have a clue of knowledge about what they should or could do to remedy their precarious situation.

Ms. Merrinuts surveyed the situation and decided the dinghy outboard had enough horse power to try to tow the motor boat...the only problem? There was no way to tie up to the motor boat and the only line the boat appeared to have off the bow was about the size of a shoe string...the eldest male on the boat made comment that they had not had the boat "in the water for quite a while" (which led us to believe the Driving While Asian distinction should also apply to watercraft).

After several attempts to tie up to the side of the motor boat and only swinging in circles, I got the bright idea to try and HOLD the tow line while pulling the motor boat behind the dinghy...sounds pretty simple, right? OH SO NOT!!!!

We finally got a larger tow line attached to the front of the motor boat which I gripped in my bare hands and attempted to slowly tow the larger craft away from the shore where we had been dangerously drifting toward. This was a very sloooooow process. Ms. Merrinuts (unbeknownst to me) decided in her captain wisdom we needed more horses pulling the craft so we could exit the treacherous waters of the float plane landing area quickly. It was a good decision as we DID need more pull...I only wish I had been FOREWARNED of the decision first!

With a rev of the outboard, the dinghy flew into motion and began its surge across the open waters as I began my "surge" toward the stern of the dinghy while trying desperately to brace myself in the boat and avoid flying into the drink! And, as I scrambled to hold my footing, the pull of the tow line tightened around my right hand and wrists, creating a lovely tourniquet, while squeezing the 5h!+ out of my hand!!! My ring fingernail of my right hand cried, "Foul!", and decided to loosen itself in a feeble attempt to relieve the pressure upon it.

I would have cursed or screamed bloody murder, except I was just so relieved to NOT be drinking "duck butt" lake water, I thought it best not to take the name of the Lord in vain...there was still a far distance to tow the motor boat and I didn't want to tempt fate.

We eventually we able to unload our "dead in the water" friends on a much larger motor boat, who agreed to complete the tow back to the boat launch area, and we returned to the marina. I continued to play it cool (while my finger throbbed and I cursed a Mermaid's grave) and wipe the blood off my hand without drawing attention to my near amputation (OK, it really wasn't THAT bad...just felt like it...and for the record, typing sucks right now, too!).

We returned to the marina and the much larger Caranda, disembarked (I love that word and I can so rarely use it), and walked to my car to say our good-byes. We laughed about our experience and Ms. Merrinuts jokingly said, "Well, we'll probably read about this rescue on the front page of the Seattle Times tomorrow."

I told her I doubted it would make that kind of news...but it would DEFINITELY make a certain person's blog... :-)


have myelin said...

I knew you would save me if you found me floating on a lake somewhere... sounds like me to do something like that!

I promote you to MS CoastguardMother!

atlantis said...

oh sister, you sure know how to have fun ! LOL! when you party you go all the way ...!!!

Denver Refashionista said...

Another great tale!

Weeble Girl said...

I just wanted to let you know that I read your blog regularly and started one myself about life with MS, among other things. It's called Messy Stuff: A Life with MS and other ramblings. You, and other MS bloggers, have given me courage to try my hand at all this.

The link is

if you'd like to check it out and it to your list of blogs.

Weeble Girl