Humboldt Bay Fire Engine #8114 stares forlornly out to sea, aching to be useful. Photo: Andrew Goff.

A few minutes ago, at least four Humboldt Bay Fire engines were summoned to the Eureka waterfront after someone called in a report of a kayaker in distress. Two stationed themselves underneath the Samoa Bridge and another at the Adorni Center, where they visually swept the bay.

After a little bit, someone spotted the target — a person in the water, hanging on to their kayak. Rescue swimmers and an ambulance were called to Woodley Island, and there was talk of securing a boat.

Then someone on shore was able to exchange shouts with the kayaker. Turned out he or she was simply practising self-rescue maneuvers in case an actual emergency were ever to arise, out there on the lonely open waters. Whoever spotted this drill and called it in mistook it for the real thing.

Everyone went home.