Saturday, June 09, 2007

"The Water Is Not Your Friend"

We grew up on Long Island Sound and its waves breaking on the shore were the soundtrack of our lives. On tranquil days, it was as smooth as a piece of glass; with some wind, there was a bit of chop; in a storm, you would not want to be out there in anything less than a large boat with someone experienced at the wheel. Hurricanes, and we had them, were a whole different matter.

As our father taught us about being out there, one of the first things we learned were, “The water is not your friend.” If he was ever right about anything, he was right about that. Should your boat sink, you can’t walk ashore; if a wave breaks behind you, the resulting white foam won’t support the boat, but will sink it, stern first; you need to know how to read the sea and sky, because a sudden squall might well capsize you.

Rivers have their own dangers, as one teen found out last night; what was a rescue mission has turned into a recovery, with no results so far (although there is hope he might have made it to some little river island).

The Susquehanna River floats along lazily, often only a deceptive two or four feet deep, with what can be a ten-foot V-shaped ravine in that area where the real channel is. Fishermen have been known to be walking along and drop right off the edge. In their surprise and confusion, the don’t react quickly enough to save themselves. That could be the case here.

It’s illegal to swim in the river around there for just that reason; it’s not your friend and it can get you.


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