I am a grandmother paddling alone over 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. Along the way I will be:
- telling the story of the children who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
- honoring their entrepreneurial mothers
- talking about the success of the Safe Passage model school and
- raising funds for additional grades for the school.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Where would Deb be without her Maptech charts?

Deb's kayak with sponsor logos...Nascar anyone?
We had a little misadventure when Chris, my photographer husband, and Tom Pilla, expedition videographer, joined me camping in Freeport over the weekend to do a photo shoot.
Late Saturday afternoon we attached two RePlayXD mini cams to the kayak, and set up several cameras for stills and videos on the shore.  We hauled the 75 pound Chesapeake light Craft kayak over seaweed covered rocks to launch on the outgoing tide.  Since the plan was just to paddle in a small region around the campsite, I didn't take all of my gear.  Tom directed the shots and ran back and forth through the squishy mud, ignoring the cuts from clams on his bare feet.  That's dedication.

After getting some nice sequences of me paddling though the low angle evening sun, we decided to end with some longer shoots of me paddling further out in the bay.  The tide was nearing it's low point, so I decided to paddle around the point to the boat ramp at the campsite, since that would be easier than coming back in through the mud.  If my Maptech charts had been with me, I would have seen the fatal flaw with that plan.

Instead, I happily paddled slowly along, singing as I stayed far enough offshore to remain in the warm sun.  But a small worry emerged.  Why had the park ranger been so emphatic about the times of the tides?  Surely the boat ramp was an all tide ramp, right?  As I rounded the last point to see the boat ramp, the situation became clear.  There was no water at the boat ramp, only acres of mud.  A quick check of my watch confirmed that the tide was still receding.  I made the snap decision to sprint for the boat ramp, since it appeared to be the closest spot to land, and any delay would just make things worse.

When the water was too low to paddle, I got out of the kayak, picked up the bow line and began hauling the boat through the mud.  Fortunately it was still viscous enough that the boat glided fairly well, and if I kept moving, I avoided my feet sinking in too deep.  But the closer I got to shore, the harder it was to pull the kayak, and to pull each foot out of the muck.  My muscles were screaming, my breathing was deep and ragged.  I was quickly reaching the end of my rope.  Ever the photographers, Chris and Tom were recording my progress from shore.
Deb hauling through the muck - wishing this was a posed shot and not the real thing.

When I was about 10 feet from the boat ramp, Tom jokingly asked me to stop.  Not getting the joke I stopped.  Wrong move.  I started sinking further in, and found it near impossible to pull out a leg to get started again.  "Help", I said.  Chris left his camera and ran to the edge of the ramp.  I threw him the bow line, and even with his previously injured arm in a sling, he applied enough force to get me and the kayak moving again.  Marriage is a wonderful partnership.

Where's Deb without her Richardsons' Maptech charts?  Stuck in the mud!  Next time, no matter how short the planned paddle, I'm taking my charts so I don't get caught out again!  Thanks Tom and Chris for a great weekend, with lots of great photos and videos, and a little excitement in that black, sticky, smelly, clinging Maine mud.

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