Adventures of the Missing Kayak


Dusk fell over the Patuxent River at Jug Bay. Dinner was served, campfire made and smores eaten. The tide retreated. As the hours passed, the 50 foot, floating dock became steady as it adhered to the river bottom muck. The kind of muck shoes are lost in if accidentally stepped upon. As dusk turned to night, no one noticed the disappearance of a lone kayak that waked between another and two canoes. Did it get tied to the mooring when last used or did an individual seek the value of one kayak?

9:30 pm the scream echoed against the cloudy night – “a kayak is missing, a kayak is missing!” Four sets of parents and children walked swiftly with headlamps fastened to their foreheads to the dock with mouths agape. Sixteen people lined the dock as their night probing lights searched the river bank and beyond for the missing kayak.

“Is that it?”

“No, that’s a log.”

The insufficient luminaries of the headlamps barely penetrated the night sky. A plan was hatched –  a hike through the woods to the next boat dock to probe the riverbank. Moms and daughters with their coal miner lamps weaved through a tunnel of cob webs, spiders and overhanging vegetation. Reaching the large wooden dock, their search revealed little hope for the missing kayak. With nothing in hand, they hiked an alternate route back, one in which spider webs wouldn’t have to be peeled from their sweaty skin.

Plan B was launched; however, there were skeptics in the crowd. It was 10:30 pm. Low tide was at 10:58 pm; the water continued to recede from the long dock leaving only inches of depth at the end of the dock.

“How are you going to get back to the dock? You’re going to search the river by boat at night? Let’s wait ’til morning.” The skeptics said. They were dismissed and the night escapade to bring back the missing kayak commenced. One canoe and kayak – one set of parents and a mom. The death bed directions were given to their children if they didn’t return.

The onlookers watched as the boaters’ headlamps and voices grew more distant. Their discussions turned to the what if’s – what if someone desired one kayak for their own and stoled it or what if the kayak was not tied to the mooring and was swept away by the tidal current. How did that person sneak passed the campsite? Did they come by boat, a canoe or kayak or maybe by waterski boats present on the river all day? How did the kayak become untied? The heavy rocking action from the waterskiers wake? How far did it drift? What direction was the wind blowing? The questions and possible answers floated back and forth between onlookers as they stood like lighthouses on the dock beaming their headlamps at the boaters beckoning them home.

Off in the distance, the onlookers heard the theme song to Indiana Jones, “daa ta da taa, da ta daa.” The boater’s song grew loader and closer. The onlookers strained their eyes in the dim light of headlamps looking for a boat in tow. Did they have it? From fifty feet out, the river’s still reflection revealed the missing kayak. Cheers erupted in the midnight sky; the kayak was found a drift at the edge of an island of wetland vegetation. They mystery continues as to how and why the kayak went missing.


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