My neighbor friend, Joe, was the first to be alerted to the sound of "hissing" in the calm of a camping trip on an island, one-quarter mile from the mainland. Economy Lake in Nova Scotia, was serene, its choppy waves subdued from last night's torrent of wind.
"I'll check it out," I said, in a voice braver than spoken words.
Laying my fishing rod down, I walked gingerly towards our yellow two-man dinghy gently lifting up and down from lapping water. "Maybe it's a snake," I said. There, now it's out in the open. Not my fault it's such an unsavory creature, making goose bumps race up and down each arm.
And the possibility of one lurking in the vicinity of our campsite was a fearful thought. Suddenly Joe rushed forward eagerly, beating the bushes, anxious to prove his braveness.
"No snakes here, but I'm willing to bet a donut we're losing air from our ship," Joe said as a matter of fact.
It wasn't a ship but a dinghy. And was our only means of getting off this acre of land. Realization suddenly jabbed me in the ribs as I rushed to the ship. "We are losing air!" I shouted, as the hissing grew louder in my approach.
I made it in five great leaps, quickly checked all three air plug and yes, heat expansion from a warm afternoon had popped the main rubber plug. I hastily pushed it back in and noticed the ship-boat-dinghy had lost more air than could carry two persons.
What if we have to stay a third night, with little food left? What if our wives thought we were lost? What if?
No problem, I thought. Quickly find the air pump and make everything well again. So where was it? Joe and I couldn't discover this prime piece of equipment. Packsacks were dumped, tent checked and the small island scoured, each fern carefully lifted for any sneaky hideout.
We had appointments to keep, schedules of life to follow. And all this was at risk, disrupted by escaping hot air. Now it looked as if our fishing weekend may be extended. It wasn't such a long distance to the mainland, but we did have quite a bit of gear.
Perhaps we could repeat the story of Robinson Crusoe. And eventually push a small raft with all our belongings aboard. But cutting down a few available trees meant having to make about five exhausting round trips to get home.
Well, enough thinking. It's time for one of us to launch and get back to the mainland. And see if the air pump is in the truck. The dinghy was quite low on air and would require some very quick paddling to make it all the way.
"I'll go!" I shouted bravely knowing Joe was also eager to attempt our rescue. I splashed aboard the deflating dinghy and headed out.
My paddle splashing made amateurish sounds, water flying past me in great swirls. Gotta get going, go, go my mind insisted. And I began to sing the opening bars of a dozen songs I knew. This ranting, in a rubber boat, which barely kept me above the chilled water, focused my mind on the goal of reaching shore.
Got to reach it, I thought. OHOH. I forgot to put on my safety vest. Yikes. A broken cardinal rule, since I couldn't swim any farther than one end of my bathtub to the other.
Listen, a hissing. It's that sneaky snake sound again.
Now I looked back and realized the plug had popped once more. In my haste and waves beginning to slosh against the sides, remaining air whooshed from its rubber cage. It was too far away for me to reach and replace the plug. So my paddling picked up speed. Now I was more like a hummingbird with a duck paddle whipping up the water, with hurricane force. Boat and I flew across the surface.
My favorite song, "Michael rode the boat ashore" helped immensely as I called upon every refrain, finally making it to shore. As I scraped the shallow edge of the lake, I realized my craft was almost down to nothing but a flat piece of rubber.
Whew, I made it! shivered up and down my spine.
After a frantic search I found the pump, replaced the missing air, and paddled back joyously to the island, with Joe cheering me on. Later, we celebrated with a feast of beans, wieners, and a cup of java. Then headed home before sunrise, singing a song with Michael as the main character.
This time, it was a nice leisure ride. We made it in one trip, gear and all.
* * *
Richard L. Provencher 2007
81 Queen Street, Unit 6, Truro, Nova Scotia
Canada B2N 2B2 Phone (902) 897-2344
Word Count = 783 for the above story. dinghy,
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