My wife and I LOVE being on the water whenever possible. We recently purchased kayaks after moving back to Florida and try to use them whenever an opportunity presents itself. I wouldn’t call us avid kayakers by any means, but we do try to get out when we can.
Saturday morning brought sunshine and perfect temperatures, which prompted us to load up the kayaks and find a nice spot to go out for a bit. We originally had plans to meet some out of town friends for lunch around noon and planned to go kayaking after, but when timing shifted and we would now be meeting them at 1PM, it was time to hurry up, get the kayaks loaded, and head out for some time on the water!
I guess the first clue that this might not have been the best idea was when I was throwing the kayaks on the roof rack by myself. It’s not that Lindsey didn’t want to help; believe me, if she had known I was already in the garage loading up, she would have come down to help; but I didn’t want her to help at 7.5 months pregnant as I didn’t want her to hurt herself. Why on earth I didn’t think through that more about the whole kayaking trip in the first place is beyond me.
Thankfully, without too much strain, I was able to get the kayaks tied to the roof. We loaded up our other gear and we were off. We headed for a beautiful preserve near the open water which is located right by the restaurant where we would be meeting our friends. After methodically unloading our kayaks and gear, we launched off the dock and we were on our way.
What we should have done at this point is communicate. This is where the failure always seems to happen. Instead of discussing the plan on where we would go, we both just started going in somewhat of the same direction and eventually we were following signs for a trail through the preserve. The problem was neither of us knew where the trail went, or how long it was.
The trail started out great; we followed streams into lagoons and back into streams. The water was very calm and relaxing. It did take some time to navigate the trail as it had narrow stretches with low hanging branches which made paddling hard. When we arrived at market #12 that indicated we had traveled one mile, we paused. It had taken us nearly 50 minutes to get through that mile and we only had about 20 more minutes before we needed to be back at the ramp to start loading up. Lindsey asked that dreaded question that is now on repeat in my head – “should we turn around and go back?”
Of course, as a guy, my answer to that question is “absolutely not – let’s keep going”; I am sure we will make it back quicker if we continue following the path, especially since it is wider and we can paddle quicker. So we pressed on. The streams began to widen and soon we were out in protected, but open water. We were able to paddle like normal again. Now clearly there are multiple problems going on from not knowing where we are or how much farther we need to travel, to the shrinking amount of time we had remaining; but the bigger problem is that my wife is almost 8 months pregnant!!! Guys, next time your wife asks – “should we turn around and go back?” the answer should always be “yes”. The only reason that question would come up is if there is some type of unknown ahead. And when your wife is pregnant, just don’t be stupid (like I clearly am) and risk it.
I will save you the rest of the details on the additional 3 miles we paddled, but my wife is an absolute saint. You could see the pain on her face. Her back was hurting, her feet were numb, her legs were asleep, and she had lost hope that we were ever going to make it back. The markers just kept coming and one mile turned into two and two turned into three. When we were paddling the fourth mile, we were no longer in protected waters and we could see boats going through a channel.
Do you ever have a one track mind and just want to do whatever you can to help your wife? I was paddling so fast that I could barely see my wife behind me anymore, but all I wanted to do was get around the next corner, see the dock we had launched from, and give her the thumbs up that we were back. Turn after turn I would stretch out in hopes of seeing the dock so I could put a smile on her face. But that moment never came.
So, I did the next best thing. I paddled closer and closer to the channel until I could see the faces of those on the next boat about to go by – and I flagged them down. Thank you God for those good Samaritans who stopped and asked what I needed! The only words that I could come up with were “do you have a rope”? As I paddled closer and explained the situation, this couple that stopped was more than happy to help. I raced back to Lindsey, told her they would tow us, and got her near the boat. We tied up the Kayaks, climbed on their boat, and were pulled the last 3/4s of a mile to the dock.
Now this alone would have been enough stress to last a week. But remember the entire reason we were doing this in the first place – we were meeting some friends for lunch at 1! Well, it was already 1:30 and not only did I feel awful for what I had just put my wife through, but our friends had already been sitting at the restaurant for the last 30 minutes waiting for us! After a call to them to update on our tardiness, we loaded up the kayaks and made it to them at 1:45. Thankfully they were forgiven and we can move on, but I am sure that is the last we will be kayaking until after the baby comes!