By Lee D. Zlotoff
Against the Wind
The Scenario: You’re an experienced and avid open-ocean kayaker, setting off early from your
favorite coastal launch point for a restorative and invigorating day on the water. You’ve checked
with the Weather Channel and the National Weather Service, and both have predicted sunny
weather, slight clouds, and virtually no wind. So, after donning some sunblock and checking your
gear and supplies, you’re off.
The launching goes OK, but you take on a little water fighting the breakers. When you finally
clear them, you paddle steadily until you’re about 1 mile offshore, which you confirm with your
GPS. Venturing out a little farther, you paddle parallel to the shore for a few hours. Then, adjusting
your life vest and seat cushion to make yourself more comfortable, you stop to relax and enjoy
the scenery, but between the warm sunshine, the gentle roll of the ocean, and the hypnotically
reflective water, you nod off.
The Challenge: When you wake several hours later, the ocean is choppy and a strong, southerly wind has picked up, which has pushed you at least 3 miles from shore and continues to grow
in strength. You dig for your cellphone just in case you need to call for help, only to discover that
the saltwater you took on earlier has rendered it useless. You paddle hard for shore, but even
after a relentless hour, the winds and currents seem to erase all your progress and the tall beach-front hotels are becoming mere dots on the horizon. You realize more paddling might be fruitless
and only exhaust you completely. So what do you do now?
What You’ve Got: Two gallons of fresh drinking water and a basic survival kit with a compass,
a lightweight 6×7-foot survival blanket (silvered on one side and dark on the other, in a pouch),
heavy-duty nylon tape, and a coil of thin but strong nylon rope. You’ve also got a Swiss Army knife
(or similar tool), some marine binoculars, a GPS unit, your waterlogged cellphone, some basic
medical supplies in their own self-contained marine emergency medical kit, and an extra paddle.
You also have a lightweight, waterproof windbreaker and some foul-weather gear stashed in the
small but useful front storage compartment.
Send a detailed description of your MakeShift solution with sketches and/or photos to
firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 20, 2009. If duplicate solutions are submitted, the winner
will be determined by the quality of the explanation and presentation. The most plausible
and most creative solutions will each win a MAKE T-shirt and a MAKE Pocket Ref. Think positive
and include your shirt size and contact information with your solution. Good luck! For readers’
solutions to previous MakeShift challenges, visit makezine.com/makeshift.
Lee David Zlotoff is a writer/producer/director among whose numerous credits is creator of MacGyver. He is also
president of Custom Image Concepts ( customimageconcepts.com).
Photograph by Jen Siska
152 Make: Volume 19