Saturday, June 20, 2009

HMS Titanic, Highland Bayou Style

The captain of the Titanic was confident of a smooth, productive maiden voyage of his ship, no doubt. I was mostly confident that today was going to be a good day on the water with my youngest daughter for our first fishing/boating adventure.


We drove down to Highland Bayou in my neighbor’s truck with a borrowed pirot. I had never used a pirot. Have heard about them all of my life; a shallow flat bottomed boat with the bow and stern interchangeable. This one is fiberglass and has two seats molded in. During the drive down, I mentioned that if we were to go over due to wind or other wave action, that she should not panic. The water is warm and shallow, and we’ll just be wet, no big deal.

I found a place on the Southern side of the bayou, a place fairly unfamiliar to me. It was either that or park where I usually do, and carry the sixty pound watercraft for 300 yards, OVER the levee and to the water. No thanks.

We had a bucket, an ice chest (I don’t really know why, now that I think about it), my tackle box and the rods. I got in the boat myself, then encouraged my offspring into the back of the boat to find a seat. I knelt in the middle to paddle the craft to our destination.

I had decided on the way down that this was going to be an adventure rather than strictly a fishing trip. My young protégé is a casting neophyte, the pirot is a new kind of vessel for me to pilot. I wasn’t planning on trying to bring in a couple of limits of fish, we were just out to have some fun.

So back to the water; the pirot is kinda twitchy when it’s loaded. As I shoved off, the quick action made some extra side-to-side motion, and we took on a couple of quarts of the bayou. My daughter tensed up, but didn’t panic, and I told her that we were OK, just stay low and don’t move too radically. Me, on the other hand, had to paddle the whole cruise liner out into the watercourse necessarily shifting my prodigious weight as I propelled and steered the boat.

As we progressed, my girl wondered how deep the water was. I had brought along a five foot piece of pvc pipe as a nod to my Grandaddy with his “calcutta depthfinder” (a cane pole). I invited her to poke it down into the water as we were gliding along and see how deep it was. She was pleasantly surprised with the two and a half foot depth of the seas. She was less pleasantly surprised with the amount of water that was in the boat with us; up to her ankles. I was informed later that each time I paddled, the water was within an inch of so of the gunwales.

We had progressed about 150 yards out to the channel, and I was notified of some more water invading our sanctuary. That was it. I decided to come about and steam back to our berth. In the middle of the turn, my first mate announced, “Daddy, Daddy, we’re sinking!”… and it was true. The stern sank quickly with her bailing out vertically as the hull slid beneath the surface. The water made rapid progress in my direction as well; past my feet, up my calves, then inundating my back pockets and finally my chest. The last bit of “dry” was the bow as it looked to heaven one last time.

By this time we were laughing in surprise and shock. The bucket with my cast net went down, down to Davey Jones’ locker; really only about three feet. But the mud was pretty deep. I grabbed my (luckily) floating tacklebox and put the rods on top. The crew was confused about the depth of the water, since the mud was so soft in that particular spot, she thought it was deeper. She seized the sunscreen and tried for the paddle. I retrieved that after getting the ice chest.

After gathering all of our floating cargo, laughing, I made sure to hem it all in for my fellow castaway to hold while I salvaged the ship. I turned it on its side, then lifted it over my head, then plopped it back on the surface. No big deal. We then tossed our flotsam and jetsam in, and I let my crew climb my leg and flop back in the boat giggling.

When I made sure that we had everything, I allowed myself a time to laugh at the ridiculous outing we were in the middle of. My thoughts of earlier came back to me; this was not solely a fishing trip, but was to be an exploration. Well, that it was! My girl asked if I were disappointed, and I replied, “How could I be? We had an adventure!”

While making our way back to where we put in with me towing the boat (which was riding nicely in the water minus the 255 extra pounds), I took the time to have the wee lass practice casting my Shimano Calisto reel. Suffice to say, she will continue to practice.

The epilogue to this escapade is that my gal got to skipper the pirot around a little bit while I learned her how to paddle a boat around. She made several large circles in the channel, paddling, switching, back paddling, digging deep and using the paddle as a rudder. She did really well, and was excited to be the captain of such a fine, albeit low capacity, craft.

The moral to this story is to always be ready for something different. Don’t be content to follow plans every time, and a good hint is to leave your cell phone in the car like we did.


innominatus said...

1992: H. Ross Perot "That giant sucking sound you hear is NAFTA causing all our jobs to go to Mexico."

2009: HMS aA Pirot "That giant sucking sound you hear is me trying to slog my ankles out of this mud."

aA said...

That's about the size of it! Was that you paddling the kayak past us, smiling quietly to yourself?

the photoSmith said...

hahaha! what a great adventure! I'm glad I read this before everyone got into work b/c I'm laughing hysterically!!

Anonymous said...

McGar boys would be proud of your if ONLY you would have nearly been caught in some type of TRESSPASSING! Wish I coulda been there with the camera.