Boat Day, Saturday 12 July 2008

I got lost on the way to Manson Pike Greenway trailhead this morning. I took the exit after the first Franklin exit, as directed, New Medical Center Parkway, drove toward Murfreesboro, and didn’t recognize any of the road between the freeway and Thompson Lane. A muscular black woman power-walking in a neighborhood back near I-24 gave me better directions, and crossing Thompson Lane, I came to the turn-off, Searcy Road or some such designation, “a left just before the bridge.” Because I’d wasted so much time lost, I didn’t get to paddle before the others from Stones River Watershed Association arrived.

Jim and Terri towed seven or eight canoes and sit-on-top kayaks behind a small, white Toyota truck upon the roof of which was strapped a Mad River Adventure canoe that’d been donated by Dicks Sporting Goods.

My volunteer efforts today made negligible contribution to the event’s success. I raked some foul algae away from the boat ramp, then did a lousy job of removing same from the rake loaned by Rutherford County Parks Department; I helped (set a couple of big, flat rocks) a guy whose name I’ve forgotten with a tattoo of a naked, bat-winged, red-eyed babe on his right calf build a little pier of rocks for boaters to use exiting their canoes; helped one guy into the too-small whitewater kayak he’d chosen to test paddle; helped a super-smart long-haired, bearded guy named Garth move some canoes over to where he tied them by their painters to a line strung for that purpose; assisted a planticologist named Terri by helping a bunch of adults and children into pfds; helped carry and load some boats after the event; and generally tried to act helpful.

I was only able to convince one person, a lovely blonde volunteer who said her husband would be jealous he didn’t get to do likewise, to demo the newskinned E68. Several others said they would like to, but had kids or thought the kayak would tip them out. Maybe it would have, dunno, but I’ve found it a willing enough and sufficiently forgiving conveyance. My guess is the E68 looked unusual, didn’t look like a recreational kayak, looked ‘serious’ as opposed to ‘fun.’ Another brave soul, a 12 year-old boy, got into Campsis Radicans while it was still in the water, and paddled it. Didn’t get a good picture of him in the boat. I did get a chance to talk to his dad during my five minutes on the river. He works for one of the local watershed associations sampling, testing water on the Harpeth River. Guy’s gotta have the best job in Tennessee – he works out of his canoe.

The one bummer today was the lack of sufficient youth and small adult life-jackets, so a number of people with kids had to wait until those using the smaller pfds finished with them.

Toward the end of the day, I managed to paddle about five minutes until it began to thunder, the whistle was blown, and all boats returned to the ramp. Maybe next weekend I’ll get to put some miles under the unscuffed hull. Perhaps the 303 will have arrived by then, and I can get the deck treated.

Photos can be found here.