Yesterday, while paddling on the Columbia River, I noticed a couple of young fellows on the beach preparing their rubber (actually vinyl) rafts for some kind of adventure. It was a windy day and at that particular time there was an uptick in the shipping traffic, so the river was not in the best of shape for what I perceived that I was about to see.
No, this is not going to be an account of a disaster, or a near miss. It is more about me learning to bite my tongue and still do my mother-hen act.
Anyway, as I suspected, these two young guys finally got their little rafts loaded and pushed off for places unknown; right out into the heavy outflowing tide which was all the faster, because of a strong downriver wind. This was obviously their first time out, because neither one had any clue about how to row their crafts with the oars that came with them. The oars must have cost all of $1.25 a pair; were way too short and bent as they pulled on them. However, they did manage to make it out into the shipping lane and at this point, I decided to tag along as a sort of escort--just in case something started to go real bad.
I was very restrained and made no comment about neither yute (a little cousin Vinny lingo) wearing a pfd. I did notice that one of them had one in the boat. I didn't see one in the other boat. By this time, I think it was obvious to both paddlers that they had gotten themselves into a bit of a pickle and there was no turning back. Someone besides me must have been watching over these two would-be adventurers, because at least they made it across the shipping lane before I noticed a freighter about to round the bend.
We were close enough to the island that I was pretty sure they would make it without further concern. Their plan was to spend the night on the island. How they expected to make it back across the river, I don't really know, but they did mention something about calling a friend who had a real boat. I bid them farewell and set about getting myself back to the Washington side through the slop.
As I said, this was about me doing what I thought was prudent without being obnoxious and authoritive. I hope the two paddlers come away with a good impression of kayakers. I sensed that both of them were grateful for the escort--such as it was.