Wow, where to start, today there was no shortage of excitement, for those that complain my blogs are too long are out of luck on day 10, simple fact that it's 10:30pm and just got into the tent for the first time should be a hint, today was action packed. Will try and do today's events justice but it's one of those things where you just had to be here.
Woke up at 7 to the sound of hard rain hitting the tent, I have no issues paddling in the rain (that's what waterproof equipment is made for) but trying to pack 200+ pounds of gear in the rain just sucks, even though everything in dry bags things will get wet, we decide to wait it out.
Walked to local coffee shop for warm coffee, guess this place is the local morning hangout, everyone was there, couple of people playing crib and thought maybe I would get a chance to get in on the action (love cribbage) especially when the lady said the old man in the corner can't be beat, but he didn't have my grandfather teach him, I play a mean game. Alas it wasn't meant to be, game broke up by our second cup and rain started to let up.
Cook at the coffeeshop/restaurant is an artist, sweet older lady, only started drawing 4 years ago and man does she have talent, will post a picture when I get home and the detail is incredible. If you are ever in Merrickville check the place out, very cozy small town feeling, reminds me of home.
Rain finally stopped so we scrambled to pack up camp before it set back in, we both dressed long sleeve and I decided to wear pants in preparation for a long cold paddle, Julie said I was going to be too hot but I shrugged her advice aside.
Now comes the first of my two dunks in the water, take all this time and care to make sure rain stops before packing, waterproof jacket and kayak skirt on, bring on the water, well... While getting into kayak, leaned the wrong way and over she went, it was only by sheer luck that I didn't go right over, over enough to fill the kayak with water and completely soak me before I even started
Was an absolutely gorgeous first half paddle, sunny and calm water, fairly strong head wind but did little to slow us down, was just a nice pleasant paddle with lots of pictures and good conversation. Really cool thing was this little dragonfly which stole a ride ontop of Julie's deckbag for an hour, let us take pictures about an inch away and another landed on her finger, more pictures, was really cool, will upload when we get home, got some good detail shots.
As we were pulling into Kilmarnock lock, site of the thieving racoons and our lunch spot for the day, 3 cruisers blast by, now 1 ok, 2 annoyed, 3 downright pissed, canal is literally 100 feet wide and he was 20 feet starboard on full plane, 39 foot cruiser on full plane throws a big wave, now we can handle the waves and more but based on principle well, you know me, I paddle off quickly to catch at lock and say my piece. As always ask lockmaster (idiot who also wouldn't let us put our warm beer in his precious fridge on hottest day of year) if I can say something, he says yes, after lock and to him not boaters, WTF buddy, satisfaction comes from direct confrontation. I bite my tongue.
Julie catches up, lock closes and lockmaster asks the boaters if they are staying or continuing, then asks us and before I can open my mouth, Julie makes me so proud, she yells out "continuing, if we don't get swamped along the way", it's a win.
Lockmaster did warn them about wake and after he told me I could fill out a formal complaint, me? Nah, just want then to be more appreciative of the little guy. Lockmaster joked, welcome to Montreal week.
We stop for canal side picnic lunch and I tell Julie I need to get out of my wet clothes, in reality, sweating like a pig but not about to give her the satisfaction after telling me I'd be too hot in pants, two wins for Julie in less than 3 hours. And now it starts to rain....
We wrap up quick and set off, not raining hard yet, turn the corner and decide to button down hatches and get waterproof, lucky thing because the sky opened up, one of those raindrops bounce off the water an inch type ones, have to cross 5km lake diagonal which brings away from shore, go/no go decisions, did I mention 40 second rling thunder and black sky where we are headed? Go.
Kept eyes on the lookout, was nervous but lightning never showed, whew, hate lightning, the only weather I won't paddle in, for good reason. Rain lasts for about an hour and a half then clear sky again.
Remember I said I got dunked twice today? Locking through I decide to stretch legs and sit on back of kayak, well I guess Kayak had second thoughts, I literally flipped 90 degrees, only by the grace of God did I not go under, I caught the lock cable with the tips of my fingers and managed to pull up right, now sitting in a bathtub, kayak cockpit filled over my legs and I had to get the pump out. We shared a good laugh, Julie obviously laughing longer because she started the second I flipped.
We get to Smith's Falls at 5pm after 23km, our longest day in 5 days and actually made up two days for the return home. We quickly scramble to set up tent because looks like rain again, we do it in record time and then it happens.
Hope I capture the next sequence of events accurately, it all happened so fast, will be interesting to read Julie's post as we don't read each others until after we have both sent for the day.
Right in front of the lock gates, the ones we just came through 5-10 minutes prior there is a cross over street with a swing bridge which is under construction so left open, leaving a gap over the canal of maybe 50-75 feet or so, we are camped about a hundred yards away and are just organizing our stuff from the boat when we hear a loud bang and Julie sees stuff flying in the air, we figure some sort of accident so we go to see what it was. As we come around the lock house we notice a car in the channel, it went through the barricade and hit the bridge on the other side and then bounced back into the water and was starting to sink, front of car and roof all pushed in and big smash where driver hit windshield.
We run down to the water to help and there were two men already in the water and a third lockstaff member about 17 just swimming over, guy at drivers door said the person inside wouldn't open the doors and kept saying he wanted to die, Julie starts to take off shirt to jump in and help and I tell her to hold on, three people there already.
Car starts sinking fast and all doors locked, Julie and I go under bridge to find something to break window with and nothing at hand, lockstaff kid grabs 2x4 in water and hits window about 7 times and finally gives in, there is only about 6" of roof left visible at this point, guy won't come out, lockstaff kid literally reaches in and pulls him out (wasn't wearing seatbelt) took what seemed like 2 minute struggle to get him out of car because he braced himself inside and about a minute of that the car was fully submerged.
About this time the police showed and then undressed, and seemed like more worried about getting equipment wet than saving a life, response time was quick though, kudos on that. They did go back in after pulling the driver to shore to check if there was anybody else in the car, even though the guys that saved the driver checked when they got there and seems like checking 10 minutes after car sank instead of when you were in first time is a little after the fact, no?
Hats off to the little hero dude at Smith's Falls detached lock, you saved a man's life today even though he wanted to throw it away, hope the cuts on your hands from reaching in broken window heal fast.
It's a very unsettling feeling standing there feeling helpless and knowing that you may be watching a man die, at the same time guilty for not going in, at that point there was three people already there, glad I don't have to know the guilt had he not made it.
Whoever you are, I hope your life turns around and you find happiness in whatever form it may come, beyond that, you selfish dick, forget what you did to yourself you could have seriously hurt other people.
Most disturbing part was the locals who seemed to be more concerned about how much longer the bridge will be closed for now.
Went for coffee, did laundry which almost didn't get done because we were so late but fortunately we are on first name basis with the owner James so we texted him and he let us know we could stay later. Whew clean clothes.
Quick bite at Pizza Hut (only thing open) and back to ten for some sleep.
Tomorrow is a new day.