The good news is that nobody got hurt, well at least not seriously.
It was a beautiful day for kayaking. We loaded the 4 kayaks onto Craig and Liz’s truck and headed off for Patagonia Lake State Park, about 60 miles southwest of Benson.
We launched the boats using one of the boat ramps and set out on a new adventure.
Don noticed a Blue Heron in the reeds. I got a great picture but the bird let me know his opinion of being photographed by taking off quickly and yelling loudly!
The water was calm and peaceful as we paddled under the pedestrian bridge to the main body of the lake.
Don was enjoying the peace and quiet.
Craig climbed out of his boat to go off in search of a geocache, which he quickly found.
I noticed one of the Coots seemed to be following Don.
As I got closer, the Coot turned around to face me and came close. He seemed to be looking for a handout, so he might have been fed by people and was hoping to get lucky again.
We saw several Cormorants in trees and on the lake.
When Liz floated by, the birds took off. Although our boats are quiet, I’m sure the wildlife is occasionally annoyed by our intrusion in their space.
Craig sure attracted lots of bovine attention!
We enjoyed our picnic lunch near the swimming beach.
After lunch, we decided to explore the west end of the lake, and headed toward the dam. Craig & Liz went off in search of another geocache, while Don and I leisurely paddled toward them and noticed a fellow with a sail on his kayak.
We caught up with Craig & Liz and were discussing their second successful cache find of the day, when Don looked back and saw the kayak/sail capsize when the wind got a little stronger. We all immediately headed toward him to help out.
That’s when things got a little too exciting. I moved alongside Craig to tie a rope to his kayak so he could tow the overturned kayak to land. I leaned over a little too far and was surprised to find myself in the water, too! It happened just that fast – one minute I was tying a perfect square knot, and the next I was totally wet!
I didn’t take any more pictures, and I didn’t even know if the ones I’ve posted would be retrievable from the memory card until later because the camera was totally submerged while still on a leash around my neck. Fortunately, my little Fujifilm waterproof camera really is waterproof! And my life vest did its job of keeping my head above the chilly water.
Don, Craig and Liz all worked to get Mark (the sailor/kayaker) and me to safety, asking a nearby power boat operator to come lend a hand as well. They found a rocky bank where we could climb out and start drying off, and got our boats emptied of water. Then we all paddled our way back to the dock. It was definitely time to call it a day, as the wind was growing stronger and the waves were big enough to cause problems when we had to paddle across the lake. A big wave horizontal to a kayak can easily tip it over.
Cold, still a little wet and shaky but not hypothermic, I was glad for a change of shirt on the lake (thanks, Craig), then my own dry shirt back at the truck, and some dry sandals. I changed in the restroom and was grateful for a blower hand dryer that I could stand next to for drying my quick-dry pants.
When we got home, I took a long hot shower and enjoyed green chile burritos that Liz made for dinner.
We took away some lessons from this experience. Always wear a life jacket when you’re going in a boat, keep the paddle on a leash attached to the boat, tie down or leash other items like cameras, sun block, water bottles and lunch packs, and don’t try to hang onto the boat after it has capsized. Some extra clothing, drinking water, and rope come in handy, too.
Don’s concern on the lake was first for my safety, but also whether this event would ruin kayaking for me. No, I’m looking forward to the next time, but will be wiser about trying to reach too far sideways!