Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Guest…Humans?

Great Blue Heron Launching into Flight - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

Great Blue Heron Launching into Flight – babsjeheron


I’ve said it many times before:
No two days at the lake are the same.

While out photographing Great Blue Herons, Swans and Cygnets on the lake that day, I heard many sirens. An alarming number of sirens blaring from the north – sirens that just would not stop. Concerned that something had happened at the boat house, I paddled my kayak from the far end of South Lake back up to the boat ramp as quickly as I could cover the four miles.

Fire Department Divers About to Secure Sunken Van at Lake - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

Fire Department Divers About to Enter and Secure Sunken Van at Lake – babsjeheron


A white van hauling a boat trailer and a young child inside had backed so far into the lake that it became nearly completely submerged. It seems like a vehicle with a trailer backs too far into the water at least once a year at the boat ramp, but this was the first time I’d witnessed the vehicle completely submerged.

Sunken Van Being Winched out of the Lake - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

Sunken Van Being Winched out of the Lake- babsjeheron


Both Fire Engine 3 and Engine 5 from our town responded to the emergency. Personnel from the Massachusetts Environmental Police and our town Police were on site to assist, and the Dive Team and Assistant Fire Chief responded as well. The sunken van was capably pulled from the water by a powerful tow truck, and hauled away on a flatbed trailer.

Fire Department Dive Team Calls it a Day - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

Fire Department Dive Team Calls it a Day – babsjeheron


As I watched the rescue unfold from my kayak still only a few yards away in the water, I was impressed to see the full body rescue suits the firemen wore – as a boater, it is reassuring to know that the lake has such sophisticated water rescue gear.

Our Fire Truck is a Boat- babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

One Fire Truck is a Boat! – babsjeheron


Same lake, one year previously. There were no Great Blue Heron sightings that day, and apparently not enough humans, as well – at least not inside the captainless inflatable boat shown below.

Everybody, listen to me, and return me, my ship
I’m your captain, I’m your captain…

Mark Farner, Grand Funk Railroad

inflatable with nobody on board - babsjeheron   © 2021 Babsje (

Inflatable Boat with Nobody on Board – babsjeheron

I had been searching for Herons that lovely morning but struck out in both North and upper Middle Lakes, and had decided to try for South Lake. Exiting the tunnel under the Turnpike and paddling through the channel towards the boat house, a shiny red inflatable boat was carving turns in the water ahead at an alarming speed.

As I got closer, I realized there was nobody on board. The captain had gone overboard, bounced out of his shiny new boat on her maiden voyage. I called the dockhands at the boat house, and they sent out their rescue rowboat and pulled the hapless owner from the water.

Fire D© 2021 Babsje ( Rescue Boat Ready to Put In - babsjeheron

Fire Department Rescue Boat Ready to Put In – babsjeheron


What happened that day on the lake could have been tragic. The captain had bounced out of his boat without having his kill-switch tether attached. When activated, the kill-switch shuts off the motor and stops the boat. A runaway boat like the red inflatable that day is a true emergency – people have been maimed and some have perished when struck by propellers in similar situations – and so the town Fire Department responded in force.

Fire Fighters Ready to Joust with the runaway inflatable - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

Fire Fighters Ready to Joust with the runaway inflatable boat – babsjeheron


The captain-less boat circled endlessly, out of control as the rescue boat with the firefighters approached. They were prepared with grappling hooks, to snag the lines on the inflatable, or push it onto the shore.

Driverless Out of Control Inflatable Circles Around Firefighters - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

Driverless Out of Control Inflatable Circles Around Firefighters – babsjeheron


It was dangerous because other boaters were in the vicinity even while the inflatable boat circled around the firefighters. I wondered how much fuel was left in the outboard motor. Would the boat keep running in circles until the gas was gone?

Out of Control Driverless Inflatable Still Circling Around Firefighters - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

Out of Control Driverless Inflatable Still Circling Around Firefighters – babsjeheron


At last, the fire fighters’ efforts had aimed the runaway boat’s course towards the rocks, and it ran aground.

Z© 2021 Babsje ( Aground on the Rocks - babsjeheron

Inflatable Boat Aground on the Rocks – babsjeheron



Success! Firefighters Snare Driverless Boat at Last - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

Firefighters Snare Driverless Boat at Last – babsjeheron


Fortunately, no one was injured in this incident, but not all similar incidents have had happy endings.

Click here to learn more from the US Coast Guard Boating Safety Resource Center.

Firefighters Tow Rescued Boat Back to the Boat Ramp - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

Firefighters Tow Rescued Boat Back to the Boat Ramp – babsjeheron

I love happy endings.



This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Jez Braithwaite and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers.

This week’s Lens Artist challenge comes from Ann-Christine. The topic is Weird and Wonderful. Do you think a runaway driverless boat is a weird thing to see? What about red-togged divers in the water with a submerged van? They were both weird things to see, and yet both had wonderful endings – the only thing hurt was the boater’s and van driver’s Pride.

Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.

Thanks to Cee for her CBWC: Fire Prevention. Our Fire Department does more than just prevent fires, they are instrumental in water rescues, too.

Thanks to Jez for the Water Water Everywhere Challenge. Much water in this post.
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 171: Weird and Wonderful .
From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 171: Weird and Wonderful .

From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 171: Weird and Wonderful .

From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 171: Weird and Wonderful .


Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and a half and they need your love more than ever.

Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District


The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Learn more!


My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

Please watch this space for news of my upcoming Winter 2022 gallery show.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
Natick Town Hall
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
Audubon Sanctuary

Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.


Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Boating

Posted on October 26, 2021, in # Lens-Artists, ardea herodias, Birds, Boating, Fire Fighters, Nature, Photo Essay, Photography, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. Very interesting post! I naively never thought such accidents could happen, especially with the inflatable boat.

    • Many thanks for your thoughtful comment. Inflatable boats like that Zodiac are very safe and reliable – as long as there is a safety-conscious captain piloting. Glad you found the story interesting. Best, Babsje

  2. Inexperience was the problem in both accidents and it can be a killer out in Nature!
    Those red suits are called “dry suits”. They designed to keep the wearer warm and dry.
    I always attach a “kill cord” to my PFD while In my boat. My boat isn’t going on a joy ride without me!

    • Many thanks Wayne for your great observations! You’re right that inexperience can be deadly on the water. Those particular red dry suits intrigued me – I had never seen them with hands attached. Happy to hear your boat won’t have any joy rides without you. You’re a smart boater to always use your kill switch cord. They’re a clever invention. Best, Babsje

  3. Great story, Babsje 👏 Good that no one was hurt & what a fantastic response by the emergency services 😃 As someone who was in the Navy for 20 years & fully appreciates the hazards of waterborne life, I find it utterly amazing that anyone can go & get a powered boat & go out on the water with little or no training 😩

  4. Dear Babsje,
    we had at high flood with strong winds a couple of days ago. Two parked cars were dissappearing in the sea as often at a new or full moon flood. There are notices everywhere at this parking space but every time some people think they know better and then their car is gone. At low water the cars are hauled out of the mud where they are usually were flushed in. We noticed these are usually rather posh cars.
    These Zodiaks are great boats. We would love to have one.
    With lot of love from the sunny sea
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your great remarks about people always “knowing better” and thinking the warnings don’t apply to them. That’s a part of human nature that leaves me scratching my head wondering why? People can be so stubborn sometimes… Maybe you can get a Zodiac one day – I have heard many wonderful things about them! Then Dina could take her fabulous photos from the water. My best to the Fab Four of Cley, Babsje

      • Dear Babsje
        we have a small dinghy with a little outboard. We wanted to buy a kayak but they have shortages. A kayak has two advantages for us, first it’s silent and second it’s a bit of an exercise. You have got a kayak, haven’t you?
        This knowing better is, of course, sheer stupidity. You see this with Corana vaccine opponents too.
        With lots of love
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • You’re so right about sheer stupidity! And, as with the virus vaccine, one individual’s stubbornness can have harmful ramifications for others. There are people who are unable to be vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons and their lives are put at risk by the foolish… I’m glad to hear that you already have a dinghy that gets you on the water. Kayaks are indeed wonderful. They are silent and floating along watching wildlife is one of Nature’s great gifts to us. Maybe a kayak will manifest for you for next summer! My best to all the Fab Four of Cley!

  5. What great dramatic photos for this week. Great post 😀

    • Hi Cee – I’m so glad you liked this one. I got really enthused when I saw your CBWC topic and had a lot of fun with adapting the image colors for you. Best, Babsje

  6. So glad no one got injured Babsje, the runaway boat was especially scary! The fire fighters did an amazing job here 👏

    • Thanks so much for your kind words. I feel the same way. So happy that both stories had a happy ending. And you’re right. The firefighters did excellent rescues in both incidents. Best, Babsje

  7. I love happy endings too – thank you for posting this drama!

  8. well that IS a weird one Babsje!! Thank goodness for the happy ending.

  9. Great photo journalism Babsje. And wonderfully weird.

  10. I lke happy endings too – and whew – you sue do encounter some awesome things our on the water – along with picturing your love or herons

  11. Weird it is – and I love happy endings too!

  12. I admire rescue teams so much for turning potential disasters into happy endings. Great documentary photos, Babjse!

  13. I’ll bet the person who did the unplanned exit from the boat had a very red face – bet he doesn’t do that again!! And I hope he gets billed for the rescue, too.

    • Thanks for your excellent observation. He was very upset – both at his own stupidity and also concerned that he would find a video of himself being rescued posted on the Internet. I promised him I wouldn’t take photos of him, just the boat. He was ok with that. And he was very happy the inflatable didn’t get a huge gash. Lucky guy, lucky boat. Best, Babsje

  14. Congratulations! I featured this post on CBWC this week.
    Hope you have a great weekend.

  15. great story, and cautionary tale . . .

    • Many thanks for the kind comment, Will. That poor embarrassed captain on his maiden voyage was so fortunate that nobody was injured – or worse – by that propeller.

  1. Pingback: CBWC: Vanishing Point – Cee's Photo Challenges

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: