Saturday, August 28, 2010

Manatee and Me Killing

On Wednesday, after a stop at Jersey Paddler, I was kayaking down in Central Jersey.  After a few miles of marshes and streams and a fat river, I found my way out to the Inter Coastal Waterway.


On my way back I heard a motor boat behind me, so I casually turned around to take a look.  The motor boat was speeding towards me.  The moment when the oblivious boater should have seen me, was coming, came, and was gone.  I thought, 'Whistle.  Hands, damn you, get the whistle!' But my hands weren't letting go of the paddle and began backpaddling with all the strength and speed they could muster.  I would have been out of the boat's path quicker if I was turned perpendicular to it, but I didn't want to take the time for the slightly less powerful sweep stroke.

With my hands busy and no whistle available without them I began to scream, my dying chicken scream as loud as I could.  Why is it, in that in that moment of panic, the scream I chose was my dying chicken scream?  I don't know.

Seconds later the motor boat was close, if the driver was looking at me I would have seen the whites of his eyes.  But he wasn't.  He and the woman next to him where having a nice conversation that had them both smiling and laughing.  Yet only a few feet away I was fighting with everything in me to stay of off the Went the Way of the Manatee list.

The woman turned from her funny conversation with a look in her eyes as though she had heard a chicken dying ahead.  She said something to the driver while the boat sped towards my end.  He looked up, startled.  He looked up to see me just barely escape his path.

Moments later he swerved and stopped as I stared at the back of his boat.  The two folk in the boat where now looking at me and I used a communication method that I had previously reserved exclusively for motorists that almost killed me while biking.  Then it had involved taking both of my hands off my handle bars, as now I had to put down paddle.

“I'm sorry, I didn't see you.”  The driver told me.

As the considerable wake rocked me,

Fictional version:

I said something clever that made him reject his manatee killing ways and stop polluting with his loud gas consuming carbon emitting boat.

What really happened:

“Yah, well, you have to keep your eyes peeled.”

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