Yesterday, we went to the Mannasquan Resevoir for a day long outing. Our objective was to do some row boating, and have a leisurely picnic. There were about 16 of us. Now of course these plans seem pretty sedate and simplistic, but oh boy did we have an adventure!
My whole family (except my wife, who was working – very important to this post) went to the Resevoir and rented rowboats and kayaks for a leasurely adventure on the lake. My warning flares should have gone off when the attendent said “rowboats” are harder than kayaks.
We rented 3 rowboats (4 in a boat and) and one kayak.
As soon as we got into the rowboat we knew we were in trouble, because none of us had past experience in rowing a boat. Oops, let me say that only one person had done any rowing before this and this person was NOT on my boat.
Well how hard can paddling a rowboat be? Very…
First off: if you are not well coordinated between you right and left hand you already have one strike against you.
Secondly: If you don’t know how to row a boat while not facing the direction that you are going, this second strike will get you in deep trouble.
Thirdly: Always make sure you have able bodies on your boat, in case you need relief from Rowing.. Also make sure your navigators (facing the direction the boat is going, know how to naviagate the rowing.
Ok, back to the videotape.
We start off and we start spinning, because we decided to have two rowers and if the two rowers are not synchronized, you will spin in circles with endless futility.
So we finally got our act togther and we started to “row, row row your boat down the lake”. No.. let’s just say we were drifting and spinning in the lake. That’s more like reality.
After about an hour of this activity, we realized we were about 1 to 2 miles off shore and we needed to get back.. this was the beginning of the end.
Of the 3 boats, only one boat got back without help (Speedboat Tow).
We had somehow managed to exchange passangers in midst lake and I had my daughters and my friends teenage daughter (my co-captain) on my boat.
My younger daughter “N” was on the aft and the older one “P” was on the front side facing the front (our so called navigator).
Me and my co-pilot “V” were trying to go straight (with not much luck). Keep in mind that after an hour of being on the lake, we knew we were in trouble and making it back to the boathouse was going to take a miracle.
So “V” and I kept on rowing in unison trying to make it back to shore, with no luck. For every 15 feet we rowed in a straight line, we were sent back 30 feet by the strng wind on the lake. Of course we didn’t realize that the wind was doing this to us until “after” our rescue boat towed us to shore.
Our other boat with my sister-in-law and other kids, was in deeper trouble than we were. She fell ill and was in need of help. Fortunately my wife who was at work called us on all our cells and was getting the blow by blow of our misadventure. So she initiated the rescue of all of us.
So after 2 hours of being on the lake, both boats were making no progress of making it back to shore. “V” and I were determined to make it. We got to within a mile of shore before we were rescued. My sister-in-law was about 2 miles off shore when she was rescued.
Getting rescued was ok, but “V” and I knew that it would take us at least 2 or more hours to make it back to shore with the wind conditions.
Both “V” and I were determined. Yet we were so embarassed/upset that we kept our head down until we got back to the shore. We had the utmost confidence that eventually we would make it back to shore.
Lessons to be learned from this adventure:
- Always have keep track of the wind conditions when you are on a row boat. we were facing a head wind and didn’t even realize it. In between our spins ,we were making forward progress , yet every time we stopped, we got pushed back double the distance of our row.. 😦
- Before you go rowing, pick a day that has very low winds, as the winds will wreck havoc on your rowing experience.
- Rowing looks easy, it is not. Unless you have a concerted effort, spinning (360 degrees) will be the result, if you cannot keep the rowboat straight.
- Always keep track of how far from shore you are, otherwise you will drift further and further from the shore.
- Have a cell phone, plenty of drinking water, and protein bars on board when you go row boating. With the sun and efforts, you will dehydrate quickly and hunger will set in.
- Never underestimate the difficulty it takes to row a boat in a straight line from/to shore.
When we finally got back to shore (after out tow), we took off our life preservers and had an exhausted picnic.. Of course we had to make an emergency run to the local store, as we had forgotten to get enough Soda/Water and utensils.
Personal thanks to the Monmouth County Parks Park Rangers that came out and towed us back to shore!