... when I almost flipped my single right off the dock and then almost took out half of the MBC competitive rowing team.
But it got better.
Bruce and I could not go out in a double this morning because John was taking somebody out in the double that we usually use. (How dare he use his boat!) The other doubles were either being used by the competitive team or were de-rigged for transport for the regatta tomorrow.
"Looks like it's singles today; Jim's all ready out there in the Win Tech," Bruce deadpanned. His normal speaking voice is deadpan anyway - it's hard to tell if he's serious or joking sometimes. Bruce is cool.
I helped him get his single down from the racks and he launched. I went back inside the boat house; instead of using the oars that came with this single, I decided to try my new oars. This, I would soon learn, was a mistake.
I carried my oars down to the dock and then I carried my boat down next. I noticed that the competitive team was coming in, so I hurried to launch in order to get out of their way. I stowed my G2 bottle and granola bar in the foot well and put my oars in the oarlocks.
As I slid into the seat of my single, a double with Eric and Cliff was about to dock. I pushed off to launch and immediately realized that my oars would not turn in the oarlocks! The collars on my new set of oars were too big and would not rotate in the oars locks.
I tired to unfeather them to take a stroke and they would not budge. The current was now taking me sideways downstream right into the path of, oh, half of the competitive team boats.
"Shit! Eric - get somebody to help me!" Luckily Eric realized I was fucked and panicking and yelled to Peter (competitive team coach) in the launch.
I was still drifting downstream sideways; but I managed to flip one of my oars - but this made matters worse: one oar was now feathered and buried deep in the water, the other oar was squared but flailing 3 feet above the Mississippi River. I was tipped so far to one side, I was sure I was going in. In front of everybody. At the worst spot in the river.
I could see the Estonian lady mouthing to me to get my oar feathered and on the water as I narrowly missed her boat as I started to pick up speed as I floated downstream. Thanks, lady, I'd love to but I can't. I'm trying ... really.
Because of the way my oars were buried, I spun another 270 degrees, almost hitting Charlie and a few other boats, but luckily found myself oriented the right way and stable enough to pull my oars in just enough to clear the collars of the oarlocks and be able to feather both oars on the water.
Peter had positioned himself downstream from me in the lauch; I tried to explain what had happened (I can't imagine what shade of red my face was) but he just calmly replied, "Try to make it back to the dock".
I had regiained my composure and my balance and was able to take enough short strokes with the oars pulled in that I made it back to the dock. Thank you, Jesus. I did not flip. I did not hit any other boats. The only thing damaged was my pride.
Eric held my single at the dock and I ran up to exchange my new oars for the older ones that came with the boat - the ones that fit in the freakin' oarlocks!
Most of the team were already off the dock (most everyone has to hustle to get to work on time, I guess), so I was ready to re-launch (with the right equipment) and join Bruce and Jim upstream.
I took a few tentative strokes and everything worked fine. I actually had a good, uneventful row.
So, what started out as a disaster, ended up being ok. No harm, no foul.
I just won't be able to look any of those guys in the eye for a while ...