Saturday, November 22, 2008
There's nothing like an explosive device to ruin a good days paddle. Saturday Mark, Craig and I launched from the Oak Bay Marina on the east side of Victoria for a day paddle down and around Trial Island. We'd hoped to maybe catch the tail end of one of the lows that have been blowing through the last week.
Alas when we arrived the inner bay was like a mirror and while the Yaughters where all a flutter over the 5 knot wind we left the shore with a feeling of disappointment.
Our trip south was uneventful. I scraped some more Gel coat from the hull looked for golf balls in the shallows off the golf course but found none. I like to roll and retrieve the balls from the sea floor then pop back up and throw them up onto the fairway.
Just as we approached McNeil Bay Mark and I discovered something floating in the water. Paddling over we found a 24"X5" cylinder with something like the following warning.
"Danger may explode. Extremely corrosive! Notify the Military or Police if discovered."
Of course we'd picked it up before discovering the warnings. So in the spirit of civic duty Mark pulled out his cell phone and called 911. Eventually the 911 operator passed us on to the Military Dive team who said they'd be there in 30 minutes. Except they didn't know where McNeil Bay was and didn't seem to know where Beach Drive was. A half hour later we get a return call asking us to describe what we had found and telling us not to keep it on our decks but to take it to shore.
With the device stashed we paddled circles around the bay taking phone calls from the navy. Naively we thought either the coast guard auxiliary or a police officer would simply come by and collect the damn thing. Well Jimmy we live in a more complicated world.
Eventually we got so cold from paddling nowhere that we came back to the beach for a lite lunch. Bring out food and sure enough the military arrives. Turns out the device was a smoke marker that ignites on contact with salt water. These things are usually dropped by sub hunting aircraft like the Aurora or from helicopters.
There's some Phosphorus inside the device and if exposed to air it'll burst into flames. Which can only be extinguished with foam. Gee, no wonder they don't list the contents on the canister. Someone might get hurt.
The Diver said we should have just tossed it up on shore. We were going to do that but were afraid it might bounce off one of the kids playing amongst the rocks. As an alternative I suggested we shove it up the tail pipe of a Volvo parked along the road.
Next time we'll take a GPS reading call it in with an foreign accent. A Texas drawl should work fine and just paddle off. "This is Jimmy Jim Jim Bob, u all. Dares un uh dem IED's floatin in da water rite down by da shure. Say how d ya spell IED?" With apologies to my Texas cousin/sister.With the device safely secured, by wrapping it with duct tape, we having known we'd done our civic duty, however small, and with hearts glowing with the thoughts that we'd done our bit to protect our homes, children and mostly our women folk, left for the return trip to the put in.