The Battle of Dewatto Bay

Some events have to be remembered instead of immortalized with imagery. All those old sea battles and Biblical beheading scenes were painted from memory, or imagination, well after the fact. There’s just no way to set up an easel on a ship that’s being shelled. Mutinous crowds don’t tend to stop for the artist who shouts “hold that pose!”, or “can you please lift the head a little higher?”

This is why I have no pictures of our Labor Day, Hood Canal kayak crossing. (Though no one actually lost their head.)

A storm had passed through during the night but the morning was bright and looked pretty good for a leisurely paddle trip (insert oddball, Quentin Tarentino style soundtrack here – something like Livin La Vida Loca.) The kayaks were the open type so taking anything along was impossible. I could have bagged my camera in a Ziploc, but as it happened I wouldn’t have dared open it.

Half way across the canal the wind that had torn through during the night came back around for another pass. Suddenly we were slogging against a head wind, pelted with rain. In other words, typical Puget Sound kayaking conditions. Waves crashed over the bows of the little open boats. I noted, with appreciation for the irony, that the brand name that kept getting washed under sheets of frothy green water was Tropic. The shoulder that I’d injured a week before began to ache. I’m afraid I whined a bit. I wanted only to make it to the lee of the far shore where I could rest a moment.

Ha ha! Not happening. As soon as we made it across the wind shifted, coming straight down the beach. We could hardly haul the boats out, they wanted to blow away like so many dandelion seeds. Dressed in drenched shorts and windbreakers, frozen by wind chill, we decided to head back. Which should have been easy and wind aided, except that the wind changed direction again and now came directly down the canal so that the swells hit us on the beam and we alternately rolled up and side slipped down the faces.

After the fact I can claim I’m not complaining. I love this stuff. I love every minute of the adventure, the hard work, the need to keep going even when it hurts. I love facing down the elements, I love a challenge. But admittedly, I love it better when I’m sitting in a warm house, clad in dry sweatshirt and jeans, a hot cup of coffee warming my icy hands, remembering.

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