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.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Paddle Day 70: Along a LONG Canal

My perspective of perspective on the Alligator Pungo Canal
It was seven hours of constant paddling to cover 23.6 miles on a long, straight canal.  The physical challenge was tough.  The mental challenge was tougher.After paddling 23 miles the day before, I wasn't sure I was up for the 23 plus miles of the day.  But the winds were in my favor and the area I'd be paddling through was protected.  There would be no strong currents and the temperature was mild.  So there was no reason not to head out.

Adjusting the RePlayXD cameras for the day
I knew the paddling would be easy at the start, so I didn't have that sinking feeling I often have about the conditions I have to paddle through as I headed out.  But I had started a little late.  As I paddled down the Alligator River I began to worry if I had enough day light to get to the bridge where I would stop at the end of the day.
Delorme MapShare showing my tracks
When I reached the start of the canal I was glad to see the wind was behind me, so I tried to sail for a while.  If the sail could increase my speed, I'd be able to arrive in daylight.
Using my WindPaddle Sail
The wind was strong enough to send me along about 2.5 mph without paddling.  That would be a great way to rest, but it wouldn't be fast enough to get me there in the daylight.  So I tired paddling at the same time, but the wind wasn't strong enough to fill the sail for that.  So I realized I'd have to paddle the entire stretch.  Perhaps I would only be able to get to the first bridge on the canal and need to get picked up there.

My one worry for the day was the boat traffic.  Ralph had showed me a monster boat wake on an arial image of the canal.  I knew that big barges go through the canal, but it was the fishing boats that worried me most.  Warren had said that some of those with huge engines would speed up as they passed me, just to see if they could capsize me.  I was lucky and had friendly exchanges with all of the boats going up and down the canal.
First boat of the day approaching
The first of only six boats to pass me during the day was a sailboat from Newport, RI.  I was a little too warm as a paddled along, but all of the sailers I saw were bundled up with thick coats and wool hats.  It was winter on the sailboats, but it was spring in my kayak.
Checking out a possible campsite
I did take a few minutes to check out what I had picked as my campsite, back before we realized that there were so many folks willing to host me.  It would have been possible to camp there, but getting the kayak out of the water would have been tricky.

By the time I reached the first bridge, which was the last possible pull-out, I was confident I could reach my original destination.  That's how it goes most days.  I start out not convinced I can make it and start thinking about places to stop early.  But when I reach the possible spots I decide I can keep going. 

When I was less than an hour from the end, I saw a great campsite in a pine plantation, complete with a little sand beach.  I stopped to check it out and to pee.  I've found it's much more fun if I arrive at my landing spot not hungry and ready to go.  I consume about 1260 calories as I paddle on a long day.  Most of that is through drinking.  I'm just drinking my way from Maine to Guatemala.

At times, especially on canals where the kayaking is not a challenge, I find it hard to keep going.  It would be so tempting to just stop and relax and explore the marsh around me.  But then I wouldn't make it to my pick up point by dark, and I wouldn't make it to Guatemala.  Then I think about the children at Safe Passage and Angel, the child I sponsor, and his words of encouragement and thanks to me for doing this kayaking trip.  And I think about the mothers and Myrna's favorite quote: "If you believe you can do it, you can do it."  Their grit and determination to work for a better life inspire me to keep going.  What I am doing pales in comparison to what the children and parents at Safe Passage go through day in and day out.  Every time I tell their stories along the way, and excite people about getting involved with Safe Passage,  I get new energy to carry on.

It was great to meet Rev. Jim Lupton under the bridge and find that what looked like a possible landing spot from the Delorme arial image, was in fact a little beach.
Little beach under the bridge
It felt so good to have paddled that long distance, to not have too many aches and pains, and to still have some energy left to unload the kayak and enjoy Jim's hospitality.  Folks had been telling me along the way about what a special place Bellhaven is, and finally I get to enjoy it with Jim!

Paddle Day: 70                                                        
Date: Dec 2, 2014
Start: Gum Neck Landing                                            
End: Route 45 bridge
Distance: 23.6 miles                                                   
Paddle, hike, bike distance: 964.1 miles
Motor portaged: 251 miles
Total distance: 1215.1 miles
Max speed:  5.0 mph                                               
Moving ave.: 3.6 mph
Kayak storage:  Route 45 bridge                                 
Hosts: Rev. Jim Lupton


  1. That's terrific Deb. Two back to back days of 20+ miles of paddling is a big feat that should give you a lot of confidence for future crossings. Sounds like the aches and pains are under control. I'm glad you didn't meet any barges. Keep up the great work for the kids!


  2. Our hearts are so "aching you ON" - don't know how else to say it. Feeling you from afar here. You are such a brave girl~
    Warm and meant hugs from Gwynn's Island!