This Weekend: Camping at Camano Island State Park

Something my family has done with dear friends for several years: crabbing at Camano Island State Park. This year’s trip was a bit more eventual than planned (I’ll get to that in a minute), but otherwise nice as always.

The park is very scenic, with plenty of trails and pretty easy access to the boat launch.

I had to work Friday, so the rest of my family drove up and I, after work, took the bus up. While waiting for the bus, this news crew with KIRO was at my bustop.

Looks like they were reporting on this story: Officials release new clues in fatal Marysville hit-and-run

Anyway, I misjudged my bus-stop and had to hoof it about a mile to town to meet my ride.

Hardly the end of the world. At one point in my life the bus was a central part of my life. After I got out of the Navy, I made the deliberate choice to get rid of my car and bike, bus or walk everywhere I needed to go. On rare occasions, I would rent a car. I guess I was a few years early for Zipcar, but that would’ve been perfect. There are times I miss that life. If reading on the bus didn’t make me car-sick, I’d probably have never given up that world. I did listen to Wil Wheaton’s Radio Free Burrito and Design Matters podcasts on the ride, though.

Ok, so for the “eventful” part. It’s related to this lovely view of Saratoga Passage, on the west side of Camano Island.

For years, we’ve used some river kayaks to haul crab pots out and back. And I’ve been kayaking for years. However, on Saturday, while two of us were out for our second trip, the wind picked up quite abruptly. My boat swamped, and my crabpot pulled it over. The crabpot was lost as I wasn’t able to get the buoy line strung out. It was wrapped around my foot, but just slid down, scraping my leg up a bit, but otherwise nothing. I still had my glasses and hat on! But the water is quite cold, and so I was keeping aware of how much time I was in the water. I got my buddy’s kayak along side me, and he was able take control. I wasn’t able to drain the boat as the waves filled it up as quickly as I could right it. Fortunately, a wonderful boater came along side and pulled me out, and the remaining kayaker got a tow to shore from another boat. Interestingly, the sudden pick-up in the wind brought a lot of boaters in abruptly. Getting to the boat launch, and getting my wet body back on shore took a huge amount of time. But I met some really nice people, even though I scared the heck out of my family. But, after a shower and dinner, I was fine.

So, I have a few lessons learned. One, life jackets are crucial. As an arrogant teen, I didn’t wear them often. Lucky for me that I never had any incidents. And, let me be quite clear: that’s pure luck. But my time in the Navy drilled into me the importance of them. Wearing my life jacket ensured I floated up when I was dunked. And, as I researched later, that’s when people get in trouble. It’s NOT hypothermia, as I had thought until today. Rather, Cold Shock. Read more about Cold Shock here and here. Another thing the jacket does is give any rescuer something to pull you out with. I’d never thought about that. Lastly, years and years ago, while hiking in the regions forests, I became a fan of the buddy system. And that became deeply reinforced this weekend. Though I was in trouble, I wasn’t in serious danger.

We can’t plan for every possible freak element of life. However, with a little pre-planning and thoughtfulness, we can help make sure that any freak accident, squall or what-have-you, will be survivable. Those are my key lessons this weekend.