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In the teeth of Haros – rowing in Alaska

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I still think I’m 10 years old. I went rowing yesterday, in Alaska, in the pouring rain, in not enough clothing, not knowing how to row, with 8 other people in the same boat. I was the tallest one, just like when I was 10. At least I know enough to play clueless now so I don’t surprise people with how  dangerous my presence can be in an athletic endeavor.

The first problem arose in carrying this behemoth vessel down to the lake. We put it on our shoulders, but being the tallest that meant a huge amount of weight fell to the oldest person, (who thought they were 10). I was almost crushed and the coach ran over to assist before I was driven into the ground like a pile. Somehow we got the thing into the water and the oars in. The cox warned us not to feather. I had no idea what feathering was so I didn’t do it but apparently I had no idea how to square my oar either which is quite important.

I always draw outside the lines and lack precision in just about anything I do so I don’t know why I thought this rowing thing was going to amount to something other than torture for all involved. I had seen photos of people who were completely spent after rowing races so I thought I would not overdress. Unfortunately, hypothermia kicked in within 30 minutes. I began to actually pray for her to call my number so I could row as I was sentenced to sit completely still otherwise. I began to hear “Number 4” or “Bow 4” when it wasn’t being called. The 4 position put me in front of half of my companions who then had to follow my lead. I never got to follow anyone’s lead. as the stern 4 operated independently.

It is highly entertaining to lead when you haven’t done the thing before. I therefore was never at ease, as if I ever have been at ease in my life. The cox kept telling me to relax my hands, which she could not possibly see as she was a tiny lady seated 4 people away from me in a little hole but somehow she knew. I was shaking with anxiety and had a death grip on that oar.  It’s hard to relax when people yell at me to relax. At no point was I one with the oar or the boat. I wasn’t even at one with myself until I got back in my car and began to breathe for the first time in an hour. Anxiety woman survives another near death experience that was probably not as deadly as she thought but felt like it!

I suppose there is something about being soaking wet, confused and freezing cold that would make people feel they had accomplished a great Alaskan deed. The thing I accomplished was a realization that it is very easy to die in the water. If I was that miserable in the boat, how long would I last if we capsized? At least I would be able to move around a bit in the water.

I will be going back tomorrow night, when it is supposed to rain again. My guess is that unless they allow singing on the boat I am not going to have as much fun as the others. I am strong like an ox but I don’t see many oxen rowing boats. I think they swim across rivers, as do 10 year olds.

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About polarflares

My head is so big because it has so many holes and air gets in.

2 responses »

  1. you can come sing on My boat when the sun is shinning and the sea otters are loafing on the water. no rowing involved as there are 2 quiet 4 stroke engines

    Reply
    • Though somewhat stressful, the rowing really clears your thoughts. I can’t think about anything else when I know just shifting my butt might turn the entire boat over. It’s like meditation with someone holding a stick over you if you move.

      Reply

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