Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Kindness of Strangers

Clearly, I should always row in the daylight so I can see potential hazards!
These days it seems like we only hear horrific news.



The potential of war with North Korea, continued racial injustice, hostile and uncivil discourse.

So it's easy for us to overlook random acts of generosity; when people go out of their way to help one another.

I was reminded of inherent human kindness this morning.

I was rowing west in the Lake Washington Ship Canal, heading toward the Ballard Locks. The skies were clear, but mornings are very dark in Seattle this time of year, and it was about an hour before sunrise. So, not all that easy to spot potential hazards.

When you are in a rowing shell, you don't face the bow of the boat; you're looking back at the path you've taken. So you have to turn often to check the water ahead for obstacles. Unfortunately, in the dark, I didn't notice a large log that was partially submerged.

Smack, I crashed into it at full speed.

The real problem was that the log somehow wedged itself onto my boat's hull, snagged on the rudder I think. I couldn't free the boat myself, so I called out, repeatedly, for help. My fellow rowers didn't hear me, but somebody in a nearby marina did. A voice called out in the dark 'watch for the dinghy, we're coming!'"

A small white boat putted out toward me, a smiling man named Justin at the helm. Actually, I didn't know his name was Justin at the time, I just know he maneuvered gently around my oars, trying to free my boat. Fellow rowers saw the situation and paddled over to help; one of them asked for Justin's name after he succeeded in freeing my rowing shell.

Justin lives aboard a boat called the Argonaut, in a marina just east of the Ballard Locks in Seattle. He was asleep when I started yelling for help, but he answered my call. When I apologized for disturbing his sleep, he responded, 'that's what you were supposed to do.'"

Justin, I made it almost all the way back to my boathouse, about a mile and half east of your marina. Unfortunately, the collision put a large hole in the bow of my shell, and I took on so much water the boat started to sink. I had to jump off and swim to the dock, with a fellow rower named Tom helping keep my spirits, if not my boat, afloat.

In the grand scheme of things, a small boating collision isn't a catastrophe. But it might have been so much worse without Justin Who Lives Aboard the Argonaut, and Tom who called out to encourage me.

We all do rely on the kindness of strangers.

This morning reminded me how important those random acts of generosity can be.


  1. Bravo to Tom and Justin. So glad you are safe, Marcie.

  2. Sorry about your boat (thank goodness for Sow's Ear), but VERY glad you are OK!

  3. So glad you are safe! The live-aboard community in Ballard is amazing. My boyfriend lives in a tiny marina just west of the bridge and the people are really great.