We were plowing through another day at the office here at SK when editor Chris Cunningham lifted his binoculars from his desk and peered intently out the window into Puget Sound.
“Looks like that speedboat out there’s in a bit of distress,” Chris said.
It was a 19’ speedboat drifting about a few hundred yards from the shoreline in front of the office. Through his binoculars, Chris observed one man in the bow ineffectually attempting to paddle away from the shallows. His boat mate periodically waved an orange flag over his head.
We watched the men struggle as a variety of boaters whizzed by them, each either too far away or too preoccupied to notice. After about five minutes, Chris reported the situation to the US Coast Guard. They’d put out a call to see if any boaters in the area could help.
We watched for another five minutes while the men on the disabled speedboat continued paddling and signaling in vain. It seemed we’d been the only other people to take interest.
Finally, Chris couldn’t deny the opportunity for some excitement on the water any longer. He grabbed a VHF radio, turned to me and said, “Well Mike, look’s like we better go help them.”
In common theory it may not seem logical, or fun, to tow a speedboat by kayak. But, as a fiend for paddle sports and the new associate editor here at SK, I’d been eagerly waiting for a chance to get out in a boat. “Let’s go!” I didn’t hesitate.
Chris and I quickly drove to the SK warehouse where we geared up and carried a tandem kayak down to the beach. Chris grabbed a towrope and tossed it into the cockpit. Not five minutes after we’d abandoned our desk chairs we were paddling across in the gentle morning waters of Puget Sound. “This is our office,” I thought.
After a short paddle, we pulled up along the bow of the malfunctioning vessel. The two young boaters explained they’d made it less than a mile from the launch ramp when their engine shut down. We hooked up the towrope and began paddling toward the shoreline, with the speedboat cruising steadily behind us.
Surprisingly enough, we made good headway. Chris guessed we were doing about two and a half knots. Not too shabby for having close to a ton in tow behind us. The sun cast down without a cloud in the sky and a gentle breeze wafted about the pleasant scent of brine and sea life. A harbor seal poked its head from the water in front of our kayak, sat and watched us for a moment then speedily evaded in search of more interesting things.
We’d gone a few hundred yards when an auxiliary Coast Guard patrol boat, which had received the call from the Coast Guard base, met us and offered to take over the tow. We all agreed the Coast Guard’s assistance might be more efficient, though Chris and I would have been happy to extend our paddling session for as long as possible. We unhooked our towrope and passed the boaters to the Coast Guard.
Chris and I stowed the gear and kayak and headed back to our desks, a morning well spent. Just another day at the Sea Kayaker office.