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Lake Millinocket Capsize

On a cool, August day two years ago, I ventured out into Lake Millinocket in Maine on my own in a kayak. I paddled along the shore with a great view of Mt. Katadhin to my left, small islands out ahead of me, and lakeside cottages on my right.

There were few people out on the lake or at their homes. Originally I decided to stay by the shore since I was alone. After a half hour of paddling, I decided to venture out to one of the small islands in the middle of the Lake. I sailed out to the wavy waters and windy air at the center of the lake. Just before I reached the island, I turned to look behind me, and to my surprise the kayak and I tipped over. I landed in the cold, choppy waters. Foolishly, I did not have my life preserver on, and when I got my bearings, I noticed the life preserver floating away in one direction and the paddle floating in another. Immediately I swam towards the life preserver and luckily, I was able to grab it. Next I grabbed the paddle, and then in the water I put the life preserver on as I held onto the paddle.

Next, I located the kayak and tried to turn it, but I couldn't do it. After that I hung on to the kayak and paddle and I tried to kick it in to shore, but the water's current kept carrying the kayak and me back toward the lake's center. I watched for passersby and yelled to a distant boat to no avail. Then I decided to hang on to the kayak's rope and paddle, and tried to pull the kayak to shore by swimming. I made some progress, but not too much. I was scared, but I knew that it would do no good to panic so I had to think some more.

Just then a seagull flew overhead and landed at a rock that reached above the water not too too far away. The seagull looked at me. It was as if it was telling me that the rock offered me safety. I took its lead, and pulled the upside down kayak to the big rock. At the rock, I was able to pull myself up while hanging on to the kayak rope. Once on the rock, I pulled the kayak up to the rock's edge and tipped it right side up. Next, I climbed into the kayak with relief. I was back on my way again. I took a deep breath and headed toward the shore. I didn't venture beyond the shoreline after that, and I made my way back to our cabin.

A kayak can capsize easily, and without wearing your life preserver, you put yourself at great risk. Also, traveling alone can be risky. Luckily I made it and learned a valuable lesson, one that I want to pass on so others don't face a similar risk. Lesson learned: wear a life preserver, when possibly kayak with others, and look to nature to signal safety.

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