Marisette Edwards-van Linden van den Heuvell

Things heard on the river

Next week I’ll reveal the winner of the blurb vote from last week. This week is just for fun.

Living on the banks of the river, right next to a marina, and spending a lot of time rowing on the river, I overhear a lot of interesting remarks. Today, as the river traffic starts to pick up out there, I’m sharing some of the strangest ones. Be warned, some people on the river have foul mouths, and I am quoting directly!

“That carp is sitting in the shade with my prescription sunglasses on sending texts on your iPhone” – There is a large carp that we sometimes see swimming under our dock. He must be the one benefiting from the items the river claimed when the wind blew our umbrella off the dock, when one of us fell in the water and lost brand new glasses, and, in my case, when I just sat down on the dock with a phone in a loose pocket.

“I’m pretty sure the carp ate a duckling.” Same carp that has my iPhone.


“Quack, quack, quaaaaaack!” – The local ducks always seem to be joining in on our conversation, and seem to be laughing along in their own way.

Splash! “Get her, get her!” – A baby being transferred from a boat to a parent on the dock was dropped into the water. I was downstream wondering there was anything I could do to retrieve this kid in the dark when I heard her cry as she was retrieved by her parent. Let that be a warning to anyone thinking it’s not a necessity to have a flotation device on kids.

“Yins got a death wish” – (“Yins” is Pittsburghese for “you people”) – this was directed at my group of kayaks returning from watching the Fourth of July fireworks in the dark. Actually we were scared to death of all the power boaters drunkenly tearing up and down the river in the dark, and we took that message to heart. No more kayaking in the dark without extensive lights!kayak-lighting-1 kayak-lighting-3

“Is that a fire in the water?” – Why, yes, it is. I built a floating fire pit after almost setting the dock on fire. Why not move the fire where it can’t do any harm? And, as an added benefit, why not take it across the river and roast marshmallows?

Floating fire pit

“What is that ticking sound? Is that a blind man using a cane on the dock?” Why yes, it was. Enough said.

A male voice screaming on the docks at 3 am: “Sure, go with him. You’re such a prostitute! Someday you’re going to be sucking his dick and wondering why you don’t have a job.” Sorry, after pondering this one for years, I still can’t make any sense of it.

“David’s sure we have a prostitute.” – followup to the above.

“Was that a motorcycle on the dock?” Why, yes, it was.

“Is that an eagle?” Why yes, it was.

“Is that a stick or a snake?” It was a stick. Except for that time that it was a snake.

“That’s a loon. It has red eyes.” Um, no, sorry neighbor. It was a wood duck.

wood duck

wood duck



“My vest just deployed in 12 inches of water!” Yeah, that was me. I was wearing one of those personal flotation devices that automatically deploy, and stumbled forward when I got out of my kayak in knee deep water. As I caught myself on my hands, the CO2 canister shot air into the chambers with a “whoosh” and the vest was instantaneously superinflated. It was so tight that it was hard to breathe while I was laughing hysterically at myself.

“Don’t worry. I sent an e-mail about it.” Long story: One day, I looked across the river and saw a boat sinking. It was winter and the boat had a shrink-wrap tarp over it so I assumed that there was no one on it. Trying to be a good Samaritan, I looked up the phone number of the marina where the boat was docked. When I got no answer there, I looked up the police department. Not wanting to use the emergency number, I found an e-mail address and sent an e-mail saying something like, “There appears to be a boat sinking at X Marina. Could you contact the owner and let them know?” Then I went off to work. An hour later my neighbor texted me that there was something going on across the river – there were fire trucks, ambulances, and river rescue vehicles over there. My response: “Oops, I think that was me!” A little while later I got a phone call from the Chief of Police, letting me know that the boat was indeed sinking, no one was on board, and they had put floats around it to keep any toxic fluids from contaminating the river. And also, if I see a boat sinking again, I should call the emergency number. The guys at work thought it was hilarious and sent this picture around.dont-worry-ive-sent-an-email-about-it[1]

“He was in that same position that they show on homicide shows.” Sadly, this was a true emergency. A body was found stuck between a boat and the dock. When the body was finally freed and brought to shore, it was in the same position seen in those outlines of bodies shown on detective shows: One arm up and the other bent, as if climbing a ladder.

“What happened to that sailboat?” It sank. One day there was a sailboat tied up in its dock slip, and the next there was a bit of mast sticking up in the same spot.

“That flag looks festive.” This is a flag with a yellow background and black letters spelling “CSO”. That stands for Combined Sewage Overflow, indicating that excessive rainfall has caused overflow in the sewage facilities, and the overflow from those facilities has been released into the river. Yum. But the flag looks festive.

“That’s either a log or a really fat bird.” My rowing coach was wrong. It was a buoy.

“Hold on port…  the other port.” We all get confused sometimes. Port is left and starboard is right, but we’re facing backwards, so…

“It never rains on the river…” That’s just a lie.

“I see the small penis convention is in town”  – Heard as our crew team was being overtaken on both sides by dozens of “cigarette boats” going 60 mph.

“It’s a kayaker… head right for them”… Advice from the coach to the coxswain who asked what that yellow dot on the water was.

“Are you sure?? Cause my ass thinks we’re done.” The coxswain of a crew of 8 big boys, to the coach who wanted to do another piece past the foot of the channel. Those coxswain seats are really, really narrow.

“Was that thing dead?”  many times, many contributors (especially during high water).

“The elusive Allegheny white fish” (condom floating in the water).

And just a sampling of special advice from my rowing coach:

  • “It’s like petting a kitten.”
  • “Embrace your X chromosome.”
  • “You have to use Angry Zen”

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