Grand Beach – Part 2

As the day warmed up, more and more people gathered on the beach. Far out on the lake boat traffic increased. After lunch and a rest I went back out onto the lake and paddled along the shoreline to the north. As the temperature rose the wind switched until it was blowing off the beach and into the lake. At one point I watched a young couple in a rented canoe launch from the beach and head west out into the lake. Both paddlers were very awkward as they zig zagged into deeper water. The boy at the back was about 17 years old while the girl in the front was a few years younger. 

The beach was slowly filling up with more swimmers and sun tanners and I was considering hauling my canoe out and heading home home. At some point I realized I could no longer see the pair of young canoeist on the lake. Since the wind  and waves had decreased considerably, I stood up in the middle of the canoe in order to see farther out on the water.  In the distance, almost out of  sight I could see about four or five boats but no canoe between us. Luckily I saw the heads of two people in the water, holding onto the upside down canoe.

Because of the waves, no one on the beach nor boaters farther out on the lake noticed the two people in trouble. I quickly sat down in the canoe and started paddling further offshore. At first I was unable to see the heads in the water but they were directly west of me so I eventually got close enough to spot them clearly.

When I reached the canoe the boy was scared and did not know what to do. The girl was terrified and crying and had trouble swimming. Their life jackets were floating in the water nearby. The canoe was upside down with only a small portion of the bottom showing as both people in the water were holding on to it is keep their heads above the waves.

At first they seemed relived to see me, but when I tried to give them instructions as to what to do, they ignored me. I had to shout at them to listen to what I was saying or I was going to leave them and go back to the beach.

I got the boy to grab one side of my canoe in the middle. I had a harder time to get the girl to let go of the upside down canoe and grab my canoe on the side opposite to the boy. I instructed the boy to hold down his side of the canoe while I helped the girl climb into the other side.  We shipped a little water but soon the girl was sitting in the bottom of my canoe and starting to calm down and not look so terrified.

The boy could swim enough to follow my instructions and we soon had the nose of the upside canoe pointed at a right angle to the side of my canoe. With the help of the boy in the  water I raised his canoe nose until it sat on the edge of my canoe. From there the two of us dragged the upside down canoe onto and across my canoe until it was completely out of the water and balanced across the sides of my canoe. During this time the girl sat paralyzed the the bow of my canoe.

After the water had drained out of their canoe I rolled it upright and then slid it back into the lake.  Once it was positioned alongside my canoe, I held one side firmly while the boy climbed into it from the far side. When the boy was out of the water I told him to calm down and rest while I padded my canoe around the scene of the accident and picked up the two life jackets and two paddles as they slowly blew away. As each item got within reach I had the girl lift them out of the water.  When she was so occupied she seemed to accept that she was now safe and calmed down even more.

When all the items had been collected I paddled back to the boy’s canoe and gave him a life jacket and a paddle.  I made sure they each put on the life jackets. The young woman was having trouble with her life jacket so I just sat and patiently waited until she finished tying it on. It was then that I turned around and saw the other canoeist determinedly paddling his canoe out further into the lake?

I quickly realized that without his passenger as ballist, he was unable to control the canoe and the wind from offshore was blowing him further out into the lake. He was trying to turn the canoe around but the harder and faster he paddle the further west he went.

I had to yell at him to stop paddling but he was so traumatized by the entire situation that he just ignored me or failed to hear me. I ended up having to paddle as fast as I  could until we pulled alongside and I used my paddle to knock his paddle out of his hands.  As we sat there with the two canoes bobbing up and down, all three of us were breathless and highly agitated.

Eventually I had the girl grab the nose rope of his canoe and we dragged it around until it faced the beach. I followed him to the beach and each time he started to lose control I would paddle along side and force his canoe to point towards the beach. When we got closer to shore I noticed about a hundred silent people were standing and watching our activities.

As the young man ran his canoe up onto the beach he was so embarrassed by all the attention he was almost in tears.  I helped the girl out of my canoe and she stormed up the beach glaring at him with disgust. I hauled my canoe to my vehicle and tied it down for the trip home.

The last I saw of the other so called canoeist, was him dragging his canoe all the way back down the beach to the rental shack, no doubt telling himself he would never go canoeing again. On the drive home I realized that in all the excitement neither of the rescued parties ever thanked me.

I doubt they ever forgot their trip to Grand Beach.

One thought on “Grand Beach – Part 2

  1. I really enjoyed this story Glenn. It was written in a way that I could clearly envision what you were dealing with on the lake that day. You must have been exhausted by the time you got them all safely to shore.


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