Tod wanted to spend some time fishing today, taking the dinghy, so we came up with the plan that we would tow the kayak 2 miles down the river to Paradise Marina, and he would go on his merry way into a more remote slough. Now, 2 miles might not be that much if you walk , however ½ way down the trip I realized that this would require quite some upper body work out, but hey, what's a girl got to do in a bloody hot day in the Delta? So, the good thing, I stayed relatively cool (temps were in the high 90's that day), got really intimate with lots of tule, did not get run over by motor boats or PWC's (every thing motorized seems the preferred mode of transportation in the delta), and did get to take a break ½ way on a private dock.....But boy, 2 hours of continuing upstream paddling does tire you out. I declined a generous offer by some fishermen to tow me as I was now close to Eden Island. Ice cream aboard, a cold drink and a fan powered by our inverter makes you forget your sore arms and the immense heat, until............you get a call from your husband.
Tod was having his own adventure 2.5 miles away:
After spending too much unproductive time in a dead-end slough trying to fish under the hot sun, I found a lovely location-- tied up under a tree that was overhanging a turn in the slough (pictured above).
In preparation to return home, I stood up near the back of the dinghy (to take care of some business), and then heard a terrible ripping sound.... the floor of the dinghy had ripped away from the main tube in a small area, and water was coming in. After a momentary panic, I realized I could make it home anyway, since the two pontoon tubes are really what keeps the dinghy afloat. But anyway, I decided to not waste more time and to get going immediately. As I started the outboard motor, the prop started turning and propelled me straight toward the rocky bank. I tried to quickly turn... but it was too late, and I ran up on the rocks. I knew as soon as I heard the "sppewwwww....." that I had punctured a pontoon! I scrambled up onto the rocks to have a look... I could feel the gash in the vinyl where the air was still pouring out. So, in the course of about two minutes I had ripped out the floor and punctured one of the two main inflation tubes. I felt that I was completely screwed!
I was just about to call Jolanda to say that there was no way that I could make it home... but realized that it was really not an option. I was way too far away for her to reach me by kayak; it would have been nearly impossible to get Bliss
that far down the shallow slough where I was; and to make matters worse, I had no shoes and no wallet or money! So I could not really walk anywhere. Just then I had an inspiration... I wondered if that dinghy could function with only one side inflated? I got in the thing, and it immediately started filling with water. But anyway I got the motor started and slowly started making my way. It seemed that if I kept my weight in the right place, it reached and equilibrium with only about 6 inches of water inside! A couple of times when the motor started to sputter (due to a faulty choke mechanism), I needed to kneel on the floor to adjust it -- and each time I heard the floor rip a little more.
But after about 45 minutes (and several more nerve-racking episodes), I finally made it to the half-way point of Paradise Marina, and called Jolanda to let her know what was happening.
As he called me he said I might need to pick him up. Not thinking clearly, I thought he meant by kayak, and I wisely decided not to comment (later, he told me, he meant I would get Bliss to pick him up)
Obviously I eventually made it home about an hour later. We pulled the resilient but sad little dinghy up on deck, emptied the water (from the floor and also the punctured pontoon), and evaluated the damage (not sure if it is worth fixing or not). And I propped up my box of fishing tackle to drain out without even looking inside :-(
Tod arriving back to Bliss in the half-deflated dinghy. The water is half-way up his calf!