A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Up and back Jack’s Cut

November 24, 2017
Emilie Phillips

We had achieved three of our goals for the trip: turkey, dolphins, and surfing for my parents. Isaac still wanted to paddle my Mom’s skin on frame kayak, and Tyson and Isaac wanted to surf.

John towing Isaac

Friday’s weather looked good for Isaac to paddle Grandma’s skin on frame. We needed somewhere protected but interesting. The small, meandering Jack’s Cut seemed just the place. Last year we had paddled through and circumnavigated Myrtle Island. Today we would ride the tide in from Tybee Creek and back out the same way. My Dad towed Isaac across Tybee Creek. At the beach near Jack’s cut, we let Isaac go free in the little waves. Next we headed into Jack’s Cut.

Jack’s Cut

Jack’s Cut is a narrow meandering marsh stream. Quite a challenge for Isaac learning to control a kayak. He would paddle along, then suddenly realize he was headed towards the curving bank. In reaction he would drag his paddle in the water on the side of the grass to stop himself. But of course that just turned his bow into the grass. We tried coaching “paddle on the left,” but that didn’t work. He confuses his left and right. So we settled on “Paddle on Grandma’s side” or “paddle on Dad’s side.” Telling him to paddle forwards or backwards was similarly ineffective. When told to paddle forwards, he put his paddle in the water beside him and pushed the paddle forwards, thus moving himself backwards. By the end of the day, he learned that “paddle forward” meant pulling on his paddle to move the boat forward.

Paddling back to Jack’s Cut from the lunch stop

As Isaac gained control, Jack’s Cut grew narrower and more twisting until one bend before lunch, Isaac caught his bow in the grass on one side and his stern in the grass on the other, thoroughly frustrated. Just then, we heard the roar of a motor boat speeding through the marsh. What it was doing in this tiny stream, we didn’t know. The tight meanders and the grasses above our head hid everything. We couldn’t see the boat, and it wouldn’t be able to see us until it came screaming around the corner almost on top of us.

We shoved Isaac into a slot in the grass and tucked ourselves away too. Then we waved our paddles high in the air over the grass. The boat captain must have seen our paddles because he slowed before rounding the corner. He passed us gunwale to our noses. Then we heard another motor approaching. The second boat was going slower. “I don’t know where he’s taking me” the second captain said ruefully pointing at the first boat. This boat was bigger and had a white railing and fishing poles that stuck out above the grass. We started paddling, but then we heard yet more engines approaching. I followed the sound with my eyes and spotted the top of the white boat looping back on the next meander to within 100 feet of us. We found an opening in the grass and worked our way back to a muddy island for lunch.

Lunch in a tree to avoid the mud and bugs.

After lunch, we nosed back into the cut. The sound of boat motors went this way and that way through the marsh, now closer, now farther. My Dad hung back to act as rear guard. I took the lead. In between Isaac steadily improved maneuvering his kayak along the meanders. The white boat came back slowly. A blue boat raced through the meanders like a slalom course. The captain passed us with an expression like he didn’t care if he squished a few kayakers. A camouflage painted skiff passed the other way. Up ahead a fishing boat drifted left and right in the marsh, but somehow never crossed our path. What had happened since we paddled Jack’s Cut last year in peace and quiet?

We found out back at the beach. A steady queue of boats was dropping off people and bags. Twenty tents already dotted the beach and woods. We saw a keg go by and a 12V car battery. They said they were setting up a TV to watch the football game.

John launching the kite

We flew our two line parachute kite at the beach. Tyson is the best. He can fly loops and skim across the ground. I can fly it in lazy S’s back and forth across the sky. My Mom is still working on fundamental direction control. Isaac slammed the kite into the ground repeatedly until we told him he had one more launch before giving someone else a turn. Then he let the kite fly high in the sky and kept it there for surprisingly long until a bubble of wind deflated the kite and it fell to the ground.

After flying the kite, we wrapped up our day and towed Isaac back to the boat launch. Another successful day. Isaac had paddled a boat on his own. The remaining trip goal was for Tyson and Isaac to go surfing.

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