Man Overboard (or Over-Kayak?)
The ocean is often esteemed as an asylum for comfort, as well as a haven for the peaceful mind. Those courageous enough brave the wild waters, while those not willing look to the horizon from a safe shore. I remember looking upon what once seemed a tranquil ocean. The waves wish-washed calmly back and forth, only to break against the firmly standing placement of sand one may call the beach. Who would have known in during that time, that I—a humble yet fledgling kayaker—would be looked upon by the sea as able prey? Surely even I could not have foreseen such a fateful occurrence, which would ultimately set me apart from the brave, and end me up only able to watch the water from a safe distance. That destined event would change me forever, and even now I cannot look at the ocean without contempt.
It was around 9:00 in the morning, yet I still was trapped in a somewhat groggy state. The red glow that reflect from my friend George’s kayak could not stop beaming directly in my eyes. George’s father assured us that this trip would be phenomenal, but possibly difficult for Julia— my sister—and I, being as we were both only novices of the art of kayaking. With the smooth hull of the kayaks only our shoulders, George and I carried them to be saddled and tied to the roof of the truck. Julia helped with the sandwiches for lunch.
We made our final preparations for travel and finally departed. It was abnormally sizzling for a day in the early summer. The stench of hot leather pervaded inside the truck. An appreciator of speed, George’s father was not afraid to pass eighty mile-per-hour. I can remember clenching to the armrests while my body was glued to the back rest. I can’t recall if I was sweating from fear or sheer heat.
It was a blessing to finally reach our destination, Short Beach. By that time, the shady clouds that had sinisterly gathered together blocked any sign of sunlight. Truly an ominous sight it was, especially when one’s usual perception of the beach is joyful and filled with sunbeams of happiness and whatnot.
Gruesome work it was to bear the cumbersome weight of the kayaks down to the shoreline. Sand playfully clung to the crevices between our toes, which was stubborn to come off. The seashells that hugged the median of the beach pinched and pierced the undersides of my feet; while the reek of saltwater flooded my nose. The slimy strips of seaweed wrapped around my ankles; and I could not help dropping the kayak harshly into the edge of the shore to relief myself of its weight.
After the chores of preparing for what was assumed would be a “fun adventure, ” we finally entered into our kayaks to “explore”. George’s father took his own kayak while Julia and I entered the two-person kayak. George’s father’s kayak’s blue sheen complemented the sturdy frame, which was decorated with a simple lightning bolt on the side. Somehow it seemed to radiate a sense of professionalism. Ours, on the hand, radiated no such thing. The dull red that covered the bulky frame did nothing but reflect a novice appearance. The seats inside were certainly cheap, as they yielded to small amounts of pressure. Ironically, I can recall that I joked to the fact that at least the kayak kept us afloat. Fate would only humor us in a very soon time.
The ominous dark clouds that have been giving the impression of conspiracy against us revealed their plot in the form of the following storm. Waves thrashed in all directions, and the deep water looked prepared to snatch anything in its clutches. The wind howled us like a pack of wolves signaling the sign of attack while the clouds continued to block any ray of sunlight. Our kayak has been taken hold by the ocean’s unholy grip, and we were desperate to retaliate. We were armed with only one paddle, which was silly as we were in a two-person kayak.
Unable to press through the waves forceful push, we could do nothing but pray for the sea’s mercy. Fear had swept quickly into our hearts as diligently as the wind had swept the waves into an unstoppable rage. No matter what, we tried to keep balance. Unarmed and inexperienced, we clung to the edges of the kayak for survival. The waves battered us, jolting the boat in awkward directions, Seawater sprang out of the surface like a mighty hand and fell back into its wake. The waves pushed and pushed until finally, like an open hand, grabbed Julia and me into its mouth. We kicked and moved our arms to reach the surface. I tried to hold on to the kayak I gasped and floundered in the water. The taste of the seawater burnt my mouth more than mouthwash alcohol. I looked up to the sky for a sign of respite. Only a sheer presence of cold heartlessness smiled back.
The adrenaline would later make me lose memory of how I got onto shore, but I thanked God I did. Apparently George’s father pulled us in. I looked back at the ocean with a shaken-up and seawater filled head to gaze up an angry ocean, still vengeful of my escape. I looked up to the sky again. And within the density of the clouds protruded a ray of sunlight that had managed to peek through.
After that incident, I cannot help but look back upon the ocean with a sense of animosity and disappointment. The ocean seemed like a peaceful, romantic safe haven. But to a survivor, the ocean is nothing but a deceptively tranquil creature, ready to engulf any foolish victim. You can say I can have a case of “ocean phobia” or whatever they call it. But mind you, the fear of the ocean isn’t provoked for no reason. I wasn’t born with it. And yet, I somehow appreciate the beauty of the life and structure of the depths of the ocean. However, I remain cautious by maintaining my distance from the ocean, cautious of what it plans to do with me.