Episode LXX – In times of trouble, it’s good to rely on true grit.

While it was my personal opinion that the boats could be unloaded in a safer manner after the tumultuous thunderstorm, I had already learned that my sage knowledge was unappreciated by the leadership of our team. As I waded through the rivulets of mud toward the truck, I contented myself with the knowledge that I was unlikely to be struck and charred by lightning while carrying the boat, because it was made of fiberglass, not metal. At the truck, I joined my cranky companions, and we mercilessly heaved the dead red mass onto our shoulders like we had done innumerable times before.

Unlike every other time when such an action would leave the carcass limp and heavy on our shoulders for the trek to the rack, the boat was as slick as an otter in butter. The quick jerk to our shoulders nearly decapitated the port foursome of our boat. Fortunately for them, they instinctually ducked as the gunnel hurtled toward their heads and released their grips. This caused gravity to jerk the mass toward our knees in a matter that threatened to sever eight limbs. By a quick and miraculous feat of juggling, somehow the port side carriers combined with our reflexes to prevent anyone from gaining a pair of wooden legs.

The boat then rested at a mere foot off the ground as our chests heaved and our forearms ached by the unforeseen difficulty. Water cascaded off every angle, every curve, every aspect of our bodies, dripping onto the already drenched ground. Frantically, our hands scrabbled across the water repellant skin of the boat for purchase, as we slipped and slid toward the now distant wooden rack. Underfoot, our feet sank into the quicksand ooze of the mud which tore and sucked at our shoes with each step. Midway to the rack, we left the cover of the thrashing trees, and were exposed to the howling gale of wind. In a flat, uncaring motion, it tugged at the mass, and tried to pull us from the ground like a child holding a way-ward umbrella. Through our gritty collective will, and the tips of our fingertips, we held on and reached the rack. Gingerly, we slipped the priceless fiberglass mass onto the holding struts, and stepped back, relieved.

I stretched out the kinks in my back. I looked at the slight abrasions and bruises on my body. I turned, and was about to say something to Seven, and Party who were shivering like abandoned dogs from the constant rain, when a dull rumble made us lurch about. Inexorably, the weight from the rack was sinking into the sodden ground, leaning in a structurally unsound way sideways, and before we could run forward, everything fell with a resounding muted muddy thud into the ground. The boat was irreparably cracked in two. By the next day, we had dried, but the shock had not worn off. Fortunately, we could sit on the bank in a daze, watching everyone else at the meet splash down the muddy river, because without a boat, we had no way to compete, and the whole journey had been nothing but an expensive road trip to enjoy the fine grits and biscuits that the Waffle House chain served all day and night.