Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fishing for a Bottle


It was late.  I was coming back to my sailboat home and ready to hit the sack.  The boat is tied to the pier by a rope and pulley system.  I bent down to grab the rope and pull the sail boat in.  My Nalgene water bottle fell out of my pack into the gently lapping water below me.

I have two one  liter Nalgene water bottles in addition to my three and ten liter water bags.  They are important pieces of my equipment since I can use them both for additional water storage as well as places to put my lunch, keep leftovers from dinner, and even soak beans in overnight.

I needed to get my water bottle back.  I was not excited about a night time swim.  The water was about five feet below the dock.  The bottle was almost full, but refused to sink thanks to a small air pocket inside.

I had some slack rope, one end tied to the pier and the other tied to the sail boat.  I grabbed it in two places, fairly far apart, and threw the slack in between my hands down to the water.  Pulling, I was able to repeatedly roll the rope across the top of the bottle, gently nudging my Nalgene towards me.
I could now keep my water bottle from escaping.

I maneuvered the slack under the bottle, and then flicked the rope up.  The bottle shot up into the air, only a few inches from my face.  Startled by my success, I did not grab it out of the air in time and it fell back into the water.

That was easy, I just needed to be faster about grabbing it.

I tried again, only this time the bottle came just a inches out before falling back in.  I tried again, and again, unable to repeat my beginner's luck.

If only I could lasso it.  But I didn’t have the end of the rope.  It would be cool if I was a cowboy and knew neat rope tricks.

I went back to trying to flick the bottle up.

Wait a second, I know lots of knots.  I may not be a cowboy, but I’m a kayaker!

I made a slip knot in the rope, then holding from either side I lowered it down to lasso the bottle.  With some effort, I got the loop around the bottle and began to gently tighten it from above, using the weight of the bottle to secure the knot.

Just as I thought I had it, the bottle slipped out.  So I tried again, and again.  After adjusting my knot severall times, and nearly losing the bottle to the sea before calling it back a few more, I managed to combine the techniques.

I did not need to make the lasso tight enough around the bottle to pull it up.  Every time I tried the bottle slipped out.  But I was able to get the loop around the bottle tight enough, so that when I flicked up, the bottle shot out of the water and landed behind me.

I saved my Nalgene, and I didn’t have to swim.

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