A couple of years ago some neighbours gave us an old canoe which had been sitting in their garden for many years. It then sat in our garden for a couple more years. I can’t say I was too excited about it (it didn’t ‘float my boat’ as the expression goes!) as it was just a ‘shell’ with two rotten wooden benches inside – but my partner loves a ‘project’ and at last, in August, it was finished and declared ‘sea-worthy’.
Our ‘favourite’ lake is Darnius in Spain because it is a lovely setting, easily accessible, free to launch boats, dog-friendly and also there is a restaurant! Monday 2nd September was the perfect day to take go, being officially the ‘end of summer’ (so the roads to Spain were clear as there are less tourists), and also it was an overcast day so no danger of sun-burn. In fact it was so overcast that it felt almost chilly on the lake so I didn’t complain too much about being made to wear a life-jacket despite my protestations that I can swim and also had no intention of going in the water (famous last words …)
All went very well – it floated. I sat behind, checking for leaks, and J-M rowed our way across the lake all the way to the other side. We stopped in a little inlet and got out to celebrate the successful launch with a little ‘Apero’ – but as the canoe didn’t have a name it seemed more sensible to drink the Cava than to smash the bottle against the hull. That was probably the cause of what happened next. I got back into the canoe, then J-M climbed back in, lost his balance, and in what seemed like slow-motion, the canoe overturned and we both ended up underwater.
Having managed to rescue the shoes, picnic bag and oars, we rowed back in soggy silence. Luckily I was wearing a bikini – but it was underneath a dress, a t-shirt, what turned out to be a very water-absorbent fleecy jacket and also the life-jacket. It took ages to wring ourselves out as best we could, and then we dripped our way into the restaurant to dry out and warm up with chicken and chips.
Lessons learned: Bring spare clothes, put your telephone/car keys in a waterproof pocket and above all, don’t drink while canoeing!