Buffalo Bayou Regatta
March 16, 2013
by Harmon Everett
Fighting words that have changed history:
"Damn the torpedos, Full steam ahead!" - Admiral David Farragut
"I have not yet begun to fight!" - Captain John Paul Jones
"I'm not going to stop for anything!" - John Ohrt, Buffalo Bayou Regatta
"Okay." - Terry Herdlicka
John and Terry were planning on competing in John’s canoe. I was entering in the scenic event. It was a nice day and I was going to paddle at my own speed and enjoy the crowd and the water.
The weather was darn near perfect. As we drove toward Voss and San Felipe, we saw other cars and trucks with kayaks and canoes heading in the same direction. We arrived and dropped my kayak off in a grassy area and saw Kevin with his boat. The bustle of arriving boats started increasing so I went to park my truck and then went to find John. We picked up our packets and boat numbers and dragged our boats down to the river bank.
Ken and Joe had volunteered to be sweep boats. They were going to start after the first wave of corporate competitors, so I helped them put their boats in early.
John and Terry found a perch to wait for their event – recreational canoes. This was to be a LeMans start, no boats in the water. I was scheduled to start 20 minutes later.
Terry told me that John had warned that he wasn’t going to stop for anything and it was obvious when they pushed a slower boat out of the way at the start. The poor boat went into the bank and then backed out directly across the path of a dozen other boats all accelerating to get across the start line. John and Terry meanwhile sped smoothly and powerfully out of sight.
Then it was my turn to get my boat down the bank and into the water along with a couple hundred of my closest friends. The starting horn went off and the crowd jostled and surged down past the start line.
I hadn’t gone more than a turn or two when I spotted Joe along the shore helping to pump out a canoe that had tumped. Right next to him was a man swimming, dragging his overturned kayak toward shore.
I helped him unload his kayak so he could turn it over and dump the water out. Then I helped him put things back together and went on my way.
It was a wonderful day for a paddle. They ended up having more than 500 boats at this year’s Regatta, and all of us were in fine spirits.
Several couples admitted this was their first time on the water and I provided some impromptu canoe instruction to boats I saw that were having a hard time. Things like: “ The person in back does most of the steering.” And “You don’t both have to paddle on the same side of the boat at the same time.” And encouragement: “Hey, you are on the right side of the water, and heading downstream, it doesn’t get much better than that!”
Then I came around a corner and Kevin was trying to help a boat that was overturned on the bank. The rental boat had a two-foot long crack running along the stern keel toward the front. The rental folks knew it was there, because they had tried to patch it with duct tape on the inside of the boat.
I tried to dry it as best we could, and then taped both the outside and inside with duct tape. I also donated my bailer to their cause. Rats, I’m going to miss that bailer. Note to self: Get some Shoe Goo for emergency patching to put in your repair kit for occasions like this. They kept going for several miles but finally contacted a sweep boat and took out at Shepherd.
I was glad I had my water soaker/bailer along as I was able to join in a couple of spirited water fights along the way in this happy crowd. Actually, to be entirely truthful, I may have started a couple of the water fights. Actually, I may have started all of them.
The wind started to come up and we passed Shepherd, and then Waugh. My arms were getting a little sore and tired. I figured I had started around 9:30, and, what with stopping to help boats, and taking pictures and stuff, I was doing good to make it to the finish by 1:00, pretty much on the dot.
Terry and John were there, and told me they had won the seniors division of the recreation boats, with a time of 2 hours and 41 minutes. Wonderful!
Honey was there, staffing the Houston Canoe Club table. There were happy people, boats, and zydeco! All-in-all, it was an excellent party!
|The author, Harmon Everett