I thought we could think about life lessons. This season there was at least one incident of folks being on big water with wind and waves that should not have been out there. After the motor boat rescue, they were fine but the boats were not as happy being smashed against some rocks. It seems like all of us could use a lesson in physics and the power of wind and water.
My first lesson in physics was an ill-advised ride on the back bumper of a soap box derby looking wheeled vehicle down a paved side road that happens to be part of the Niagara Escarpment. Although I did not inspect the steering system I suspect now that it could be best described as post and beam with a cheap rope as a nod to technology. Who needs brakes as this was a pure-bred racer! Ricky (his last name was not Racer) was at the rope and you could barely see his noggin above the aerodynamic plywood. His hair was blowing in the wind in true racer style.
As we started down the hill I quickly learned what Newton said about gravity. We were going awful fast and the hill had just begun. The car was not answering to the rope and was already weaving back and forth taking up a whole lane which after taking driving lessons I learned was the wrong side of the road. Perhaps the steering was off because of the weight on the back bumper.
Due to my newfound appreciation of Newton I concluded that jumping ship was my only hope; which I promptly did. Although I was a quick runner for a ten-year-old I was not that quick. A few rolls on the road took off all the excess speed and I was safe but left to watching Ricky hit terminal velocity. I am sure it was Ricky’s finest moment driving as he managed to stay upright all the way down that hill. I was bleeding but not broken. Ricky was ecstatic to still be alive. He had learned a lesson about gravity as well.
What has this got to do with paddling lessons? Good question and as soon as my blood pressure returns to normal I will come up with a few conclusions.
How would this have gone if we had a lesson prior to this episode? A trained professional (any mother) would’ve noted the faded rope steering and the possibility of high speed instability. They would have mentioned it was a one-person-only sort of vehicle. They would have asked where we planned to ride? Our planned route would have raised eyebrows and Ricky would have been sent to his room for even thinking about it. They would have advised something more substantial than hair covering Ricky’s noggin. I would have been sent home for being so stupid to get on the back of the racer at the top of a steep hill that also happened to be a road.
We do something similar in White Squall lessons. We go over what the craft should have to be safe. We show folks how to get in safely and mention things like falling off a SUP board onto a dock is going to hurt. All seemingly simple physics, but with any new thing, to figure all ramifications is difficult at first. A gentle introduction to the joys of being upside down in a kayak is always better than it happening somewhere off shore in big waves. We give folks some skills to handle canoes efficiently and to always think about how the waves will look when you are going to a windy side of a point of land. We ask people about their intended route and think about safety factors with that. We do not send you to your room if there is some crazy idea about a route but we may raise our eyebrows.
Have a great fall and get out on the water!