Prescription for Disaster

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Kayaking Incident - some major corporate leaders owe me big time

Clearly I'm not a watersports kind of girl.


I'm now doing my Executive MBA with Trinity College Dublin - a prestigious university known for attracting leaders of industry and corporate high-flyers. I kind of snuck in there with all of my China connections and experience (whew!) but the course so far is going well.

We had our induction week in County Mayo at a Water College called something in Irish I absolutely cannot pronounce. Or spell. It was roughly about here:

In which there was not only no signal at all but signal and wifi BLOCKERS, so for three straight days our group of 40 Type A personality complete strangers all had to speak to each other while inconspicuously trying to suss each other out.

We had fun spending three days listening to lectures about corporate social responsibility and building go-karts, rounding off with a final afternoon of:

Sea Kayaking.

In the sea. 

The Atlantic Sea.

This is pretty much what was going through my head:

But, not about to be thought of as a pansy in front of these esteemed leaders of banks, doctors, lawyers, stock brokers and CEO's, I suited up and went down to the beach, convincing myself that we would be going no more than 5 ft from shore, surely.

We arrived down to about 30 kayaks for 40 people and I, having never kayaked before in my life, was assigned a three person 'Canadian' kayak (how ironic) with an electrical engineer in the back, a business analyst girl in the middle (who couldn't swim and was terrified of the water) and me squished in the front.

I was in an oddly sat-up position with my feet planted at the front of the kayak, my knees straight up and my bum in a teeny tiny groove - nowhere to rest my lower back. This couldn't be normal, but I wasn't about to make a fuss in front of all of these esteemed business professionals.

They don't yet know how weird I am and I wasn't about to broadcast it.

So, having not done a sit up in the last 4 years there I was, in a perma-sit up of grimacing pain I drifted out to sea on a long yellow plastic kayak with two other people, one of them already crying. 

We were off! We were gliding! We were cutting through the water and riding the waves we were-


This is when I truly got a taste of my own medicine (remind me to tell you guys sometime about the time with my mother in Jamaica with the shark. And the time in Hawaii also with the shark) and the girl in the middle started properly freaking out.

She was shaking so hard my teeth were chattering. She was crying to go back to the shore and staring down at the water below looking for sharks and demanding to know what everything was.

"It's okay" I said, trying to soothe her with a bit of empathy, "I'm scared too. That stuff is just patches of seaweed though - nothing to worry about."

"What about that?"

"More seaweed."

"What about those dark shapes?"


She started screaming and I started paddling like crazy for shore - the engineer in the back somehow completely oblivious to all of this in his tiny little boat. She was really freaking out now, and if she tipped the kayak I would just about die.

So we were the first to signal (and scream) for the rescue boat, which came up beside us and took off the girl in the middle (nearly tipping us over in the process despite me clinging to the side of the rescue boat like a traumatized koala. Taking off two would unbalance the kayak, I'd have to stay on. 

Okay, okay. I can do this. Especially in front of all of these esteemed business professionals. Am totally not going to freak out.


Okay, my non-existant abs were in desperate need of a break. I was actually crying. I found a little rope thing by my feet and hung on with my hands, giving my stomach a much needed breather.

Okay, this was fine. This was kind of nice. We were still a little bit far out but some people were farther than us and they seemed okay. The sharks would probably eat them first, and I am just going to sit here hanging onto this string, bobbing up and down in the water and-


Two people behind us had overturned their kayak and were in the freezing water - their boat and paddles going one way and them going another. They were screaming and we were the only people around. Obviously engineer and I swung into action:

Image result for lifeguard dog


We paddled like maniacs toward them but they kept going faster out to sea. Oh god, this was harder than I thought. They kept screaming for us and our arms were like windmills paddling that stupid kayak out farther and farther into giant squid territory - AND WHERE THE HELL WAS THAT BLOODY RESCUE BOAT?!

We finally got to them, completely winded as they hung on to the back of our long-ass kayak and I bobbed up and down holding onto that string again for fear my stomach muscles would burst out out of my stomach, reach up and slap me like the thing from Total Recall.

Oh God, it burned. It burned so badly - and they were still in the water and so cold - we had to get them to shore. 

Seriously. Where the F&C% was that rescue boat!?!

Okay, okay. Just keep paddling. It's not about me, it's about the people in the water hanging on to my boat for dear life. Just breathe through the pain.

Okay, we were doing okay. We were all going to be just fine, we were feeling the drag from these two but we were still making it toward the shore, we were even getting close to some of the other kayakers. They could help, it would be totally fine. 

"eeeeeeEEEEEEAAAAAUUUUGHHHHHHH!" came a scream from behind-

"What?! What?!"
"Something touched my leg! Something touched my leg!"


We went into SERIOUS OVERDRIVE! The engineer and I were paddling like Satan was behind us, the two in the water were kicking with renewed energy and all four of us were screaming for the rescue boat like we were about to be swallowed by Jaws:

The rescue boat finally got to us (that f&c%£r) and hauled our hypothermic cargo-two on board as I guarded the water with my paddle. I was ready to take on that bastard if he tried to pop up on me

And of course, couldn't put me in the rescue boat as it would unbalance the stupid kayak. Alright. alright. With a wary eye still to the deep, dark water and holding on again to the string thing for dear life to rest my bleeding abs I took a deep breath, assured the engineer that I was okay and off we went, gliding again toward shore until


More screams for help, another kayak turned over and was drifting away without its' passengers - and we were again the only ones near enough to help.