Canoeing Misadventure On The Delaware River

One beautiful autumn, a few friends and I decided to join a group of women on a weekend retreat along the Delaware River. Sometimes just getting away from the routine of life, leaving the family behind and having the girlfriend time of laughs and giggles can be all we need to recharge our batteries.

This particular trip was supposed to be a time of complete relaxation, renewal, and FUN! All our responsibilities were left behind and we were ready for an adventure.

Our Canoeing Afternoon on the Delaware River

If you live in the northeast, you know that the Delaware River is the place to go for water sports. There are places all along the river that offer canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, tubing, etc. – you name it. There is even ziplining (tame compared to western Canada) and paintball for a day.

On our ladies retreat it was announced in the morning at breakfast that anyone who wanted to join a group for canoeing on the Delaware River could sign up for the afternoon trip. The rental/launch site was just up the road a few miles.

The friend I had traveled with had been canoeing before, as had I. My father had taught me all the safety rules for canoeing – i.e. never stand up in a canoe, paddle with long smooth strokes on one side then on the other. Balance and synchronization with your partner in paddling was important. Although neither my friend nor I had done much canoeing in the past, we felt that we could handle it. This was, after all, supposed to be a fun, adventurous afternoon with a group and we would have experienced guides, right!?! Right!

Canoeing Against Blustery Winds and White Caps

Each canoe held three people. My friend with her paddle took the front seat; I with my paddle took the rear. Another friend who had never been in a canoe before was in the middle (and panic stricken). Once we were given brief instructions and everyone was loaded, our canoe caravan moved out into the middle of the river.

As we were getting the knack of the synchronized rowing, we became aware of the wind picking up and forming little white caps on the water. The wind continued to get stronger as we wrestled to adjust our rowing in order to compensate. Meanwhile the distance was growing between us and the rest of our group. There was no way we could now alert our guides to the fact that our canoeing adventure was in danger of becoming a dunking adventure. The wind had blown up so strongly from our left that it swung the canoe around and headed it sideways into the rocky shore to our right. To make matters worse, our friend in the middle seat was so scared by then that all she wanted was out.

Our Canoeing Trip Was on the Rocks

When we landed (still dry, thank God) in the rocks along the river, our next challenge was to keep calm – and to keep our friend from jumping up and capsizing us. Along the shore where we landed were thick woods backed by a cliff. Even if, and when, we managed to get out of the canoe, we would have a rough hike through the woods until we could find a path up to the road on top of the cliff. Our first job was to stay dry while we extricated ourselves from the canoe. It was clear there would be no more canoeing that day.

As we were beginning the process of carefully getting out of the canoe, our guides found us. They had finally realized that we were not behind them and had backtracked. What a relief! As for our novice friend, she vowed she was NEVER going canoeing again in her life!