little girls on tailgate

We all need to unplug on occasion. We need space to reflect and perhaps re-imagine our place. That is one of the gifts of kayaking, and of recreating outdoors. There is peace in paddling out into the boundless bounty of this beautiful country. Memorial Weekend always seems to find me in desperate need of that release. So the family and I lit out for Atlantic Beach, NC. The plan was to go kayaking and fishing together and hopefully find some redfish. I put my wife on her first redfish last year while we were there.

redfish caught in kayak

 

Kayak fishing is an escape from daily stress. It supplies a special slice of happiness in it's unparalleled immediacy to the natural world. I want to gift that feeling to my kids so they can carry it with them.

A recon mission was in order, to see if the reds had come inshore.  After stopping at Chasin Tails Outdoors to get supplies, I paddled out into Bogue Sound. The fish did not disappoint.

chasin tails outdoors

puppy drum

The Eddyline  C-135 Kayak makes for a great exploration vessel. It paddles well and gives ample stability for standing and sighting. It didn't take long to find some willing fish.

slot size redfish

On this morning I also lost a slightly bigger red, and a good size speckled trout, both right at the kayak. But it was still a successful couple of hours. It's not often we get moments like this, to quietly sit somewhere beautiful. I appreciate the time gifted by this activity to reflect upon a holiday like Memorial Day, and what it means. My father died in service to this country. Memorial Day means more than a three day weekend for me. And the events later in the day would give me more chance to reflect.

That afternoon, I loaded up the family for another quick mission. Things did not go as planned. Perhaps the severed shark head at the put-in should have been an omen.

severed shark head

We embarked on our paddle to the fishing grounds. The tide was noticeably off from what I was expecting. High tide was going to be later than I'd calculated. All of my luck with the reds had come on a falling tide, in the 2 hours after high tide. But we set up shop in our spot anyway.

wilderness systems tarpon 135t kayak

My wife and youngest in the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135T Kayak, searching for reds. The fish weren't biting, and it was evident on everyone's face.

kayak fishing kid

And that is when it happened. Our 4 year old jumped into the water and landed on an oyster bed. I heard the yell and looked over to see her being slung back into the kayak by my wife. Her knee immediately started bleeding. Oyster beds are notoriously sharp and dangerous.

Which brings me to two important points:

  1. I always wear closed toe shoes (Astral Brewers / NRS Crush style) when fishing river or inshore locations because of oyster beds, etc.
  2. Always have a first aid kit in your kayak set up. We cleaned up the wound with some antiseptic wipes and applied pressure with some gauze.

It was time to paddle in. We needed to properly clean the cuts on our youngest daughter's knee. My wife felt terrible. She kept apologizing as if the fault lay squarely on her.

Mom and daughter in kayak

The looks on their faces says it all.

Marriage is a partnership. All major human endeavors involve collaborations. Which brings me to my point, complete with obvious parellels. It’s easy to point fingers and blame. It’s easy to shirk the chance at personal reflection and instead take the easy road of castigating others. But what good comes of that? I know that my wife and I love our girls. I know that we put our hearts, minds and souls into taking care of them. I also know that outcomes are usually arrived at due to a myriad of complex occurrences. Life is often too complex to make simple assertions about blame. To constantly project blame and point fingers is to constantly push your partner away. Then every decision becomes a monumental tug of war, a refusal to work together. You are then competing instead of cooperating. You see, competing is for games. Cooperation is for balancing human dynamics. And the best teams are the ones that find cohesion by cooperation. Relationships dissolve when cooperation and understanding is foresaken.

I pushed for us to go fishing. I switched our youngest from sitting in between my legs to sitting in the front seat of the tandem where my wife couldn't readily reach her. Some of the fault lie with decisions I’d made. And padding back to the launch I reflected on those choices and recognized my hand in the outcome. When we got back to the ramp, instead of pointing my finger, I extended my hand to my wife. Our children depend on us cooperating and understanding each other. Our children depend on us supporting one another. We are in this together.

Let me type that one more time: We are in this together.