Sunday, July 8, 2018

The time I swam across the river in my clothes to rescue the children.

Hello!  We spent last week vacationing at the cottage and I assumed I would have time to write.  Based upon my lack of posts, you can see that I clearly did not.  The Fourth of July week is the busiest on Cape Cod and I can't recall how many vacation days Rich took last year, but this year, he took off the entire week.  Some of Rich's family stayed at his uncle's place during this week last year and also this year.  The girls preferred method of vacationing is with friends and family, which is not always possible.


Cape Cod is actually an island now because of the man-made canal and if you're not boating there, which almost no one does, you have to drive over one of two bridges.  So there's traffic.  Maybe it's because we live outside of a city with terrible traffic but I cannot stand sitting in traffic so we do everything to avoid high travel times.  With the 4th falling on a Wednesday, we were a bit in luck.  A lot of people took Monday off last year since the 4th was on a Tuesday, to extend their weekend.  The Cape was packed and, for some, a 90 minute drive turned into a 3 hour drive.

Rich had to take care of some work Saturday morning so I spent that time packing and we kept an eye on traffic.  Most rentals run from Saturday to Saturday so traffic in the morning is to be expected.  We left home around 2:30 and the bridge was backed up a mile and a half, which isn't too bad.  After unpacking and unloading our new (to us) kitchen table, we ordered pizza for dinner.

We're friends with Emily's BFF's family and they had planned to visit with us on Sunday and Monday.  Sunday's lunch was a BBQ at the cottage and then we walked around Hyannis center, checking out the shops.  Dinner was at one of my favorite spots, Baxter's.






Followed by mini golf and ice cream.



There was a heat wave going on back home and while we did have a few very warm days with high humidity, it is always 10-15 degrees cooler on the Cape.  Monday was absolutely beautiful.  Warm but not hot.  After lunch, we headed to the beach with our friends.  Rich's family was there, so we set up camp with them.

So this is a beach along a river where it empties into the ocean.  The water here (river and ocean) is warm and beach-goers enjoy the natural lazy river.  Any time we hung out here last year, the current was flowing from the river into the ocean.  On this particular day, the current was moving from the ocean up the river.  There's a rock wall separating the sand from the water for most of the length of the beach, which is long and narrow.  Where the beach gives way to marshland, there's a shallow pool allowing access to the river water without having to deal with the rocks.  


The dads had been swimming with the kids but they wanted a break and because the beach was crowded, an adult needed to walk up and down the rocks to keep an eye on the kids as they rode the "lazy river."  I was on duty when the kids asked if they could swim across the river.  At low tide, you can actually walk across.  No one said anything to me about the current feeling stronger than normal.  If I had known this, I would have said no.  None of the other adults seemed to mind the kids swimming across so I told them they could but pointed out that they should swim across at an angle to make it easier.

So they made it across to the other side okay, but then someone went in the water and then they all went in without floats but then they went back and retrieved their floats.  At this point, I'm standing in the shallow pool trying to give direction.  They were directly across from me which was going to make a difficult swim as they would have to swim directly across the current.  I had suggested starting further back so that as the current pushed them, they wouldn't stray too far off course.  Now none of them are paying any attention to me at all and Anna's sitting in a donut float about to get pushed up the river.

Did I mention how I forgot to pack a bathing suit?  I was wearing denim (of course, it was a heavier denim) shorts and a t-shirt.  I also had on a baseball hat and sunglasses.  At one point, when I was walking up and down the rocks, I thought to myself, what if I have to jump in?  I figured I would just toss the hat and sunglasses into the sand and jump in with my clothes on.  There's a reason why I only buy sunglasses when I catch them on sale for $10.

I want to point out that no one was drowning, or struggling to swim, or even panicking.  They were all sort of laughing and trying to determine what to do, but I could tell they realized swimming back would be an issue.  Someone had attempted to swim over to Anna and bring her back, but she quickly realized she couldn't.  Another mom standing next to me said that her kids had done the same thing earlier and she had exclaimed, "What are you trying to do?  Give me a heart attack?"  Now all the parents with me in the shallow pool realize what's going on and they tell me I can borrow one of the kayaks.  Unfortunately, I didn't think it would be a good time to try out a kayak for the first time though.

A dad near me said he could over there and before I could say anything, he started swimming across the river.  Now I'm searching the beach for Rich, who is wearing a bathing suit, but it's so crowded, I can't find him.  I realize I'm going to have to go in (because I can't let a stranger rescue them when I'm capable of swimming myself) so I pull off my hat and sunglasses but I'd have to wade out of the pool to throw them into the sand and then wade back through the pool to get to the deeper water and I didn't want to waste that time.  So into the water I went.

I grew up swimming in the ocean.  I'm not an expert but I know the ocean is powerful and temperamental. (I am also about to give up writing this because it is taking forever as I cannot type more than two sentences without interruption.)  I know fighting a current is dangerous and I didn't want it to reach that point with the kids.  I wanted to end the whole situation before someone became frightened or panicked.

Rich finally saw what was going on after I reached the other side of the river.  The dads came and assisted me in returning all the children to the proper side.  Even right after it happened, there were certain details I could not recall.  I don't remember stepping off of the ledge into deeper water.  I don't remember pulling Anna and her float over to the sand.  I do remember switching from the breaststroke to a sidestroke with my back facing the current.  The water was much warmer than I expected it to be and the current much stronger than I've ever felt it there.  As I climbed out on the other side, something happened and I stumbled, bending my knees more than they can be bent without interference from scar tissue.  That hurt.  Emily said to her friend, "My mom's here to save us."

As we were all swimming back, I caught a flash of black pop up in the water next to us.  "Dear God, please tell me that is a person."  It was.  We can all laugh about this now because no one came close to getting hurt.  In a way, it was a good lesson for the kids.  Not too long after, the current pulled my niece (she's my age) and her daughter down the river further than she wanted to go and she was having trouble getting back across.  Her husband and a friend went to assist but she was able to reach a place where she could stand right before they got to her.  The kids spent some time playing in the shallow pool of water that afternoon and afterwards they said they weren't so embarrassed by their rescue after watching at least four others ask for help getting back across the river.

The girls know what to do if they get caught up in a rip current (yes, knowing and doing are two different things) and we all also reminded them that they are more important than the floats.  If a float gets away from you, don't get into a dangerous situation trying to save it.  Lessons when living a salty life.



I have more to share from our week but it's getting late and this is long enough already.  More later . . .


1 comment:

Bree at Clarity Defined said...

Yikes! Glad everyone was rescued before things got murky (AND that it was a human in the water with you, I about jumped out of my skin when I first got to that part).