After a warm early morning of practicing steady to shot and steady to wing with Carlin, we decided to reward everybody with a nice swim and paddle in the river. We had a peaceful shady spot, with an easy calm current made by the ocean’s tide pushing against the river. The air was increasingly warm, but the water was cool. The photo below shows how beautiful it was, with me and the dogs only about 25 yards offshore at the edge of the channel, me in my 8-foot orange kayak, the dogs out swimming around with me.
We’d been paddling around for a while, Tooey swimming steadily in her usual trolling-motor style and Carlin launching himself into the water from the shore. And then I saw the Sheriff, motoring toward us in his in his skiff. Uh oh. What were we doing wrong?
My first thought was that his issue was the dogs. I turned to Russ and asked if he wanted to put them up in the car. But they were out in the river happily swimming around in circles, and while I could paddle out and herd them in, I didn’t think I could do it before the Sheriff arrived. And besides, Russ said no — we had our permit, not to worry.
Slowly the Sheriff inched closer. He was being careful. By this time, there were several fishing boats trolling or anchored already out in the middle of the channel, filled with people trying to stay cool on what promised to be a day with temperatures in the triple-digits.
Finally, he got close enough to shout. I didn’t hear him, and both Russ and I cupped hands around our ears, and shouted back, “What?”
“How long is your boat?” he wanted to know. Boat? I thought. Oh…, boat! Not the dogs. Whew!
Now, spatial relations is not my strong suit. I’m the gal who bought nine bags of ice to fill a cooler that turned out to hold only three bags. So I guessed, “12 feet.” At the same time, Russ shouted, “8 feet.” Russ and I looked at each other. I clamped my mouth shut, and Russ said again, “8 feet.”
The Sheriff nodded, touched his hat, and motored away.
Turns out that he’d noticed we didn’t have a registration sticker on our kayak. That’s OK for 8 foot boats, but definitely not legal for 12 foot boats.
By then, the river was definitely getting crowded. We watched the Sheriff rescue one boat that seemed to be disabled. We noticed that the numbers of jet skis was increasing, as was the number of boats trailing fishing hooks and lines. Time to pack it up and go home.