Yesterday, Bob and I made a trip to the lake to let the new boat he recently built (name intentionally withheld…) take a maiden voyage. Kind of like the kayaks he’s built where he builds a frame out of sections of wood, then covers it with ballistic nylon and coats it with polyurethane. Except instead of having a hole cut out so you sit in the boat, it’s all sealed up and you sit on top of it. It’s basically a stand up paddle board.
When this was built, he had to put a hole in the top with a plug because if it was just solid, the wood would implode when first put into the water. So it had to be unplugged to allow air in and out at first. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the plug back in which didn’t seem like a problem because it was in the front and only a small opening–about 3/4″ in diameter—and stayed above the water line.
We paddled a good way out into the lake, only to find our usual beach was under water due to the abundance of rain. So at Bob’s suggestion, I got off the boat and swam for a while next to it. (Because of my leg injury in June, I have been unable to exercise like I had before and swimming puts no pressure on my leg, so it’s something I can do.)
And that’s where the problems began.
I swam for a while, then suddenly Bob saw a large fish (he could only see about 3 feet of it, so who knows how long it really was) in the water by me. There’s some large catfish in that lake and one took all of the skin off of a boy’s leg who was water skiing a few years back. Anyway, that startled me a bit, but nothing happened with it. Then it was time to get back on the boat so we could paddle and get back to shore.
Getting on, the bow went under the water and the boat took on some water.
Then the waves started coming heavier, splashing over the top and making the boat take on even more water and making the whole thing unstable.
While trying to stabilize it, the boat flipped and we both fell off.
It took a few minutes and pushing the bow under the water again, but we both managed to get back on only to row about ten yards and have it flip again.
We flipped probably seven or eight times. Each time we got back on, it was more and more unstable. (Of course at the time we didn’t realize how much water was on the inside and that the weight of the water inside the boat mixed with the waves on the lake were making it so hard to stay up.) It was so low that water was up to my waist when I was sitting on the thing.
After we tipped once more, I got back on and Bob stayed off to swim beside the boat as I paddled.
About two hundred yards later we were both out of energy and decided I’d keep paddling the boat and he’d hold the back and kick. We didn’t make it but maybe another 50 yards. Fortunately the boat wasn’t still sinking lower, but it wasn’t going very fast. So…we made our way to the closest shore and decided I’d climb up the rocky cliff and walk through the trees close to the shore, he’d get back on the boat and we’d meet at the shore.
After scaling the rocks on the shore to high ground I found a trail that moved with the lake so I followed it, but at the end Bob wasn’t there and neither was our car and it didn’t look at all familiar of where we’d parked.
Panicking, I started screaming for him and turned to go back to find him to see where I’d made a wrong turn. But I couldn’t find Bob anywhere. Where he’d let me off was near a very rocky shore with huge, sharp rocks both above and below the water. He’d stayed by the shore to wait for me to make sure I scaled the cliff and got to the ground okay, but that had been the last time that I’d seen him so in the mind of a fiction writer here, I was imagining all sorts of awful things: the boat had tipped again and he’d hit his head on one of the rocks and was passed out floating in the water.
As it turns out, he was somewhere else entirely, but I was totally lost. I made my way nearly back to where I thought we’d parted ways, then tried to take another trail, but when it met up with the main trail, I was disoriented with worry about where my husband was that I didn’t know which way I needed to go. I wasn’t really ON a marked trail before, so I had to decide on a way to go, then decide what to do when I reached the end.
I made a wrong choice and did a complete circle of a place I’d already been.
After about an hour or so of being separated, my goal changed and instead of looking for Bob I was looking for a main road so I could find someone to help me find a park ranger. Just as I was cresting the hill to the park ranger’s shack, Bob came into view walking toward me.
I’m not pregnant, but you’d have thought I was with tumult of emotions that caught up with me seeing that he wasn’t floating unconscious in the lake somewhere and that I was no longer lost.
I know, I’m a wimp, and normally I take things in stride, but gracious the fiction writer in my head who’d conjured up the possibility that my husband was at the least hurting or possible dead had me very frazzled.
When we were reunited, I was literally on the verge of sobbing and his response was, “Well, I guess you do care for me a little.”
Thanks dear, you’re so right, who knew that I actually loved my husband. I certainly didn’t.
As for my poor phone… Though I had it in a life-proof case that should have protected it agains the water, when Bob flipped one of the times, he fell too far under the water and the pressure made the end pop open and my iPhone got submerged pretty good and now it doesn’t work.
I probably didn’t do a good job here of explaining the horror I felt at being separated, and I’ll agree some of it was unnecessary, but here’s a way most of you can relate to the horror and fear I felt yesterday. When I was twenty one we took our boys camping at Fort Pillow a Civil War fort an hour north of Memphis. They had these two huge cliffs connected by a suspension bridge that looked old enough to have been built by the soldiers that I refused to walk across while carrying a wiggly one one year old (Bob carried Eddie who was two across without a second thought). While we were waiting for them to return, I sat on a nearby log with Henry and wouldn’t let him down because I was terrified he’d crawl to the edge and fall. For the past five years, I’ve occasionally had a recurring nightmare that we’re back there and Bob convinced me to go across the bridge and at the halfway point Henry wiggles and slips from my arms and falls down the giant drop. For as gut-wrenching and horrible as that nightmare is and how sick with worry it makes me, yesterday I had the same feeling when I couldn’t find Bob and I thought he was out floating helplessly in the lake.