DIRE STRAITS, Chapter 7C
September 16, 2011
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There were a number of different techniques that could be used to climb back into an overturned kayak. None of them were terribly effective when caught in rough seas.
Clinging to the rope with one hand, other hand gripping the paddle and the gunwale to make sure it stayed in the cockpit of the kayak, Derek timed the waves. The trick – and it would be a good trick if he pulled it off – was to catch the kayak in a level trough or as it was moving down, which would allow gravity to help him.
It was almost impossible to time the waves in the dark. The wind was blasting spray into his face, it was raining, and the waves seemed to come in every direction. But he couldn’t hang by his wrist forever.
Derek felt the kayak rising on a wave. As it rose onto the crest and began the awkward slide down the other side, he pulled as hard as he could, levering himself to sprawl on top of the kayak.
The kayak, with him almost spread eagle on top of it, plunged down the other side. He felt himself tumbling, the kayak starting to roll.
With a desperate, half-rolling, half-jackknifing motion, he jammed his feet into the cockpit and held on.
A wall of water swept over him. He inhaled at the wrong time, and choked, coughing and wretching.
But he was in.
He still had the paddle.
The skirt, practically in tatters, was still around his waist.
But the cockpit was half filled with water.
And the can he used for bailing was long gone. He tried to bail with his hands and made some headway, but not much. He finally gave up and resealed the skirt. The kayak was less stable with too much water, but it wasn’t in any particular danger of sinking. There were floating packets in the bow and the stern, so even if full it wouldn’t sink. Not exactly.
Derek gripped the paddle and instead of fighting the storm, used it as a rudder to steer the kayak, no longer trying to keep it bow into the waves, but running before them, in God only knows what direction. And he prayed that the storm would move on soon.