FEATURE: Up the Creek Without a Paddle


July 14, 2014

Living on the Eastern Shore, bounded by water on two sides, makes owning something to float on a necessity. I have this little kayak, a short, round, cute little tub. Not a streamlined kayak, just a little basic kayak. Used it every so often, not too often. After a long, painful trip out to the Barrier Islands a few weeks ago, I realized that my paddling days were not so enjoyable any more.

I also have another boat, a small aluminum rowboat. Has been sitting in my backyard as an ornament for years, slowly turning into a planter. So a few days ago, I decided to purchase a real, small outboard engine at a local marina. Next day I was ready to head out with my new toy. Eureka! It felt like having my first car, after riding a bike for years. Freedom!

Started out early to avoid the searing afternoon heat. Made it to the boat ramp just fine. Backing up took (quite) a few tries. The boat ramp looks much wider close-up when on foot. (Note to self: Should practice backing up in my driveway — and remember, turning left means the bloody boat turns right!)

Slid the boat off the trailer without any problems — even remembered to tie it up before I parked the car. Tried to lower the motor into the water. Where on earth was that little gizmo Tom showed me at the marina that I had to pull out first? Ten minutes later — oh, this one! (Note to self: Things look different when viewed standing on land behind the boat.)

Then tried to start the motor. Pump … Choke … Pull … Again. Took a few pulls (Why did it only take ONE at the marina?) And then the motor stopped. Again — see above — nothing, just a few sputters. Ten minutes later — Success! (Note to self: Do NOT stand on the gas supply hose while trying to start the motor!)


Tide was still going out quite rapidly, but for whatever reason the motor stopped again. Boat washed ashore on the other side of the channel, by the mud, grass, and oyster beds. (Note to self: Just because now this rowboat is an engine-driven boat, do NOT leave the oars at home in the shed!)

Stuck my foot out and tried to push the boat away, holding on to an oyster shell. (Note to self: Do NOT touch oyster shells. They are razor sharp and will slice your fingers!)

By now, while bleeding profusely, I tried again to start the motor and tried to get out of the mud in reverse. Another boat came by — thankfully with a kind and helpful man. He pulled me away from the mud. Asked if I was all right. Of course I was all right — blood all over my shirt and pants!

OK, start motor again — more tissues on that wound to stop the bleeding — engine smoked — ohhh, the choke. I have been driving stick shift most of my life — how could I forget such a normal procedure?!

Finally, off to the Barrier Islands. Very low tide, but I did remember all the low spots and made it out there without any incident. Once on the beach, I was fine. Naturally I had all the land necessities with me: gauze, band-aid, second shirt, and of course chocolate! Walked around for a few hours. The island was busy, lots of people walking and having fun in the sand. Found a few pieces of sea glass, nice ones, very well done. Made me happy.

By then it was 2 p.m. and getting incredibly hot, some wind, hot wind. Lots of those big biting flies. I had my special mixture of black seed oil and fresh garlic with me — keeps all biting insects away. Nothing came close — no people either.

Time to head back home. Trip back was uneventful. Maybe — just maybe — I should peruse that owner’s manual that came with the motor?

(When she’s not exploring the barrier islands, Gertraud Fendler produces works of art, some of which may be seen at the Ellen Moore Gallery at 223 Mason Avenue.)



16 Responses to “FEATURE: Up the Creek Without a Paddle”

  1. Doug Shomaker on July 14th, 2014 8:11 am

    Informative and comical, too!
    There are many great tips for boaters written within.

  2. Carol Zuccarino on July 14th, 2014 9:04 am

    What an adventure! I’d like to sign up for a trip.

  3. Mary Ann Connelly on July 14th, 2014 9:24 am

    Gertraud! You have an attentive Guardian Angel: thank goodness! Read the manual please…….

  4. Nancy Proto on July 14th, 2014 9:39 am

    What a fun read!

  5. Gail Rasmussen on July 14th, 2014 11:12 am

    Good reason only to sail! Never trust a motor. Funny story — I say let the cat have it!

  6. Jacqueline Noteboom on July 14th, 2014 11:14 am

    I can picture it all! Thanks for the laugh!

  7. Dana Lascu on July 14th, 2014 12:48 pm

    Wonderful story, Gertraud! Reading instructions is boring — leave that to others.

  8. Steve Kane on July 14th, 2014 1:07 pm

    Made me laugh out loud. Reminded me of a number of close calls I got my own self into as a novice: backpacking, roof repair, use of nail gun, etc. I learned to carry bandaids and Polysporin. And ok, read the instructions.

  9. Donna Adams on July 14th, 2014 1:58 pm

    What an excursion! What you won’t do to find a few pieces of sea glass!

  10. Catharine Perry on July 14th, 2014 2:23 pm

    We have all been there, though probably without such a sense of humor! Very cute.

  11. Karen Kinser on July 14th, 2014 11:20 pm

    You are such a “pistol”! It takes GUTS to go out all by your lonesome out to sea in a boat. YOU GO, GIRL!

  12. Ellen Moore on July 15th, 2014 7:59 am

    It takes a lot of work first to find the sea glass and then to make the beautiful jewelry. Keep it up — we sold many pieces in the gallery over the weekend.

  13. Eliza Hoover on July 15th, 2014 10:28 am

    Have admired your paintings at the gallery and now equally admire your adventuring. Please give garlic and black seed recipe. Black seed? Sunflower? Thanks.

  14. Gertraud Fendler on July 15th, 2014 10:38 pm

    Recipe for Insect and People Repellent:

    Discovered this by chance. My cat (the one in the boat) loves to nibble on dry food throughout the day. So do ants. To discourage ants from crawling into the cat bowl, I placed the dish in a saucer filled with olive oil. They came –– and drowned themselves. Ran out of olive oil one day and substituted black seed oil (http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/Black-Seed-Oil.htm) and noticed that the ants did not even go near the bowl. They vanished. Tried it on me while working in the yard. Nothing bit me.
    Made a tincture and for good measure I added freshly pressed garlic –– a tradition for a girl from the Balkans. I am 1/2 Hungarian, 1/2 Yugoslavian, 1/2 Austrian.
    It worked! Nothing came near me! Nothing! And Nobody!

  15. Dana Lascu on July 16th, 2014 5:51 am

    Hey, Gertraud, those origins add up to 150% – that pretty much sums it all up: you are all that and more, the essence of fun and creativity on the shore. Great reread when the bus is stuck in traffic. Even the recipe is fun.

    Everyone else, as a Transylvanian (also Balkan), I can attest to the fact that people put garlic in everything to ward off bugs, but also vampires.

  16. Gertraud Fendler on July 16th, 2014 9:03 am

    Three halves?
    Never claimed to be a mathematician!