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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


As promised, here's the update on my wrist, arm and shoulder injury.
I have been bothered for some weeks now with an injury on my right side that has been worrisome.  It's not that it's been very painful - just tingling, numbness and minor pain.  It became bad enough to seek medical help in the Weymouth.  The Rotarians were great in recommending top specialists, making me emergency appointments and carting me around for an office visit.  The first diagnosis was a combination of rotator cuff injury, pinched nerve and tendonitis.  The worrisome component of the diagnosis was that if I continued I could be doing permanent damage.  Yikes!    So I paddled more conservatively for a few days and took more rest days.  But when the problem did not go away, I started thinking about options.  Clearly, continuing will there is the possibility of doing permanent damage is not an option.  I am committed to raising awareness for Safe Passage and the children of the Guatemala City garbage dump, but it would be both stupid and bad publicity to continue on if that led to hurting myself.   At my stop in Marian, Massachusetts in the lovely Buzzards Bay, I talked with Rich Howe, the Safe Passage Board President, a friend and someone whose opinions I really respect.  We agreed that taking some time off to get a diagnosis was important.

My orthopedist in Maine was able to give me an appointment right away, so my husband drove down to Marian to pick up me, kayak and gear.   It was a bit surprising that after paddling over 229 miles from Yarmouth, Maine to Marian, it only took three and a half hours by car to get back to Yarmouth!  On this expedition I am traveling at "human speed", the speed at which Homo Sapiens have traveled for centuries and centuries.  Since I have not been using sail power, my human speed is close to a walking pace (but also allows me to carry much more gear than with walking).  It gives me renewed respect for the fantastic voyages made in small boats by the Inuit, the Vikings, the Native Americans, the early European explorers and many others.  When people are surprised at how slowly I am traveling, I ask them to think about how long it would take to walk from Yarmouth to Portland to Boston to Buzzards Bay.

The diagnosis:  No rotator cuff problems. Yeah!  Some tendonitis and muscle injury, but not enough to worry about.  So with a little rest, some drugs, a brace and exercises, I should be ready to get back on the water in about a week.   Most importantly, this activity os very unlikely to lead to permanent damage.  Yeah!

Tomorrow I'm meeting with my logistics team to work out how to continue.  If this were one of my expeditions in the Arctic, it would be easy to just start where I left off and continue on.  The issue with this Kayak For Safe Passage Kids expedition is that we have hosts set up all along the coast and events set up in NYC that would be hard to move to other dates.  It would be theoretically possible to take a week off,  go back at Marian, and paddle like crazy to make up the lost time.  But that would be asking for more injuries.  The other possibility is to start paddling again about 60 miles from where I stopped in Marian.  That would put me on track for the NYC events while traveling at my regular steady turtle pace.  It would also put me on track for still paddling over 2,500 miles on the expedition.

I'm very sad to even contemplate missing out 60 miles of coast.  Maybe I should paddle that section in reverse when I am coming back up from Guatemala in my car.

Stay tuned for the verdict on which solution will be chosen.


  1. Dear Deb, greetings again from rainy Costa Rica again. I totally understand your concern and regardless of what decision you ended up taking I’m sure it will be the right one!
    I’m a month and a half away of starting my own little steps into long kayaking trips. At this moment in time I’m fine tuning the logistics of my first trip and looking forward to my launching day on Oct. 10th. I have started an INSTAGRAM account to keep everyone posted on the latest news. You can check me at Kayaking_costa_rica. If you don’t mind I’ll love to share some of my check lists with you via e-mail so you can recommend thing to take in or out of the boat (pizotedetierra@yahoo.com).

    Best regards to you and your team and keep up the hard job…!

  2. It's the spirit of your adventure & journey that count...not the actual miles you are paddling. 60 fewer miles, in the big picture, is nothing! Plus, none of us want you to hurt yourself doing it. So give your body a chance to rest & heal, then skip a section of coast & stay on schedule. You have lots of folks rootin' for you, Deb, and I bet we all feel supportive of whatever decision you make. Kathy :o)