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, October 17, 2014

Paddle Day 48: Melancholy Day, River not Bay, and New State!

Leaving Money Island with help from Megan and the Money Island Marina
Paddling on a cool, overcast day - a melancholy day.

It's sad as I paddle past towns that no longer exist.  The water is overtaking the land along the NJ shore of the Delaware Bay.  Some places have been abandoned and remain as ghost towns.

A ghost town of abandoned houses, waiting to be torn down
Talking with the oyster fishermen about how vibrant these communities were in the past, and their long history of generations making a living on the water, makes me sad about the changes here.  In some areas the people have allowed the government to buy out their houses, as they are no longer insurable, and are prone to regular flooding.

Just bulwark and trees where once was a community.
In some communities the houses have already been razed and all you see as you paddle past are trees and old bulwarks that in the end were not enough to protect the homes from the sea.

In other areas folks are staying for now.  The roads to these shore-line communities are frequently not passable because of flooding on even normal high tides.  Sections are so eroded, that they are likely to suddenly lose half the width in the next storm.  The residents wonder when it will no longer make sense for the state to repair the roads, or continue to provide the infrastructure support like electricity. Money Island is the community where the oystermen offload their catch, as their home port of Bivalve is too far away from the oyster flats to get the fresh oysters refrigerated soon enough in the summer months.  It still makes sense for the state to maintain the road to support the fishermen.

The people in the communities know they are living on borrowed time.   Most are doing the minimal amount of up keep on their homes, as they can't think of them as long term investments.  Many have no other savings than the value of their homes.   It's hard to think about the future when you know what's coming.

But a few folks did rebuild and raise their homes after Sandy, in hopes that that was a 500 year storm and it will not be that bad again.

The remaining and rebuilt houses of Sea Breeze.

I figured out that one reason this area reminds me of the Arctic that I love, is that people here, like in the Arctic,  are all so connected to the land and the sea.  It is home and has provided their support for generations, and now it is changing, and they are watching.  It's almost like mourning.

I headed up the Delaware Bay, going with the tide to make my paddling easier, but as I crossed from the NJ to the Delaware side I noticed there was a lot of current, and it was against me.  Looking at the chart, I saw it wasn't the Bay I was crossing, but the River.  Of course!  A favorable tide here means the current is flowing out just a little more slowly.  Everyone I've talked with about this route, has done it in reverse, and came down the river.  Paddling up the river is a lot, lot harder!  What was I thinking!  I had planned the next day to paddle over 20 miles further upstream.  It became clear that was not an option, so I looked for places I could pull out before the canal.  No go.  Just miles of marsh with no roads.  So since I have to portage around the C&D canal (no kayaks allowed), I opted to start the portage from Woodland Beach instead.

It did feel good to finish New Jersey and enter the next state of Delaware!  I also passed the quarter point in the journey today.  But winter is coming and I need to move quickly to get further south.

My host, Carlene Roche was waiting for me on the beach when I pulled in through the low surf to land.  She had already talked with a local and arranged accommodations for my kayak overnight.  the kayak cart came in handy for hauling the boat to his house across the huge parking lots.

Carlene and Ed then entertained me royally in the Rotary way!

Paddle Day: 48                                                         Date: October 16 2014
Start:  Money Island                                                  End: Woodland Beach
Distance: 14.1 miles                                                 Total distance: 636.9 miles
Max speed:  5.5 mph                                                 Moving ave.: 3.1 mph
Kayak storage:  Friendly guy at Woodland Beach        Host: Carlene and Ed Roche

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