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 71: My Day of Open Ocean Paddling and Bellhaven Visit

What land?  I don't see any land.
Dense fog made the paddle to Bellhaven an interesting navigational challenge: finding my way and avoiding the other boat traffic.
When I woke to fog, I considered waiting for it to burn off before setting out.  But I was the speaker for the Bellhaven Rotary Club at noon, so decided to head out into the fog.

As I put in, I heard and then saw a new phenomenon.  It sounded like rain falling on the water.  It looked like rain falling on the water, but it was localized to a small area.  Then I realized it was the fog condensing on the trees and dripping into the water.
See the "rain" under the tree?
While in the canal, the fog obscured the far bank, which was only a short distance away!  Once I entered the Pungo River, I had a choice to make: "caping" or "coasting" or "channeling".  The route I had planned on my Delorme Map Share site was "caping" - going the shortest distances between capes or points of land.  When I can see that's easy using dead reckoning, as I can avoid the shoals and paddle from one point to the next.  In the fog, I was afraid of running aground.  I could have opted for "coasting" and hug the shore the whole way, but that would be a lot longer route and I'd never make it to the Rotary meeting in time.   So I opted to stay in the channel where I could use the Garmin GPS to easily pull up a heading to the next channel marker.  I headed out into the fog.
Looking out into nothingness
Paddling in dense fog is an eery experience.  Your world shrinks down to a small circle out to the horizon, with your kayak bobbing along in the middle.  Without using the compass, it is nearly impossible to paddle in a straight line.  It would be possible to panic.  Or you can move inward and live in your tiny world, trusting that your skills are good enough to get you to your destination.  The reward of seeing a navigational buoy arise from the fog, dead ahead is comforting.

Fishing out your fog horn and giving two blows ever so often also makes you feel safer.  Hearing the fog horn of a large vessel however, is not comforting.  I rapidly turned out of the channel and headed towards the shallow water near shore that is deep enough for kayaks, but not for most other boats.   I know that several boats passed me, not because I saw them, but because their wakes reached me.  Once in shallow water, I got a compass bearing to the end of the Bellhaven breakwater, and was rewarded over an hour later when it appeared out of the fog.
The Bellhaven breakwater appears- right where it should be!
The fog began to lift as I approached Bellhaven.
Rev. Jim was on the beach to show me the best spot to land.
Rev. Jim Lupton showing me where to go.
We dashed back to Jim's house, I quickly changed into dry clothes, and when we left a few minutes later for the Rotary meeting, the sun was out!

Bellhaven is a wonderful little town.  It is the birthplace of the Intracoastal Waterway, which was completed in 1928 with that long Pungo River - Alligator River Canal I had kayaked the day before.  There were 25,000 people in town for the dedication of the ICW, complete with a zeppelin, all the North Carolina coast guard cutters and many other boats.  Every September is a celebration of the ICW birth, and Jim does the blessing of the fleet.  Wonder if I can get a kayak blessing before I leave?

There is so much history here.  Jim drove me to Bath to visit the oldest church in North Carolina, where we met the new rector, who had been to Safe Passage!  Bath is also the home of Black Beard (Edward Teach).  But it's in Bellhaven that the original Roanoke Lost Colony colony started their downfall by killing the Algonquin chief, Wingina.

It has been fascinating staying with Jim: architect, priest, published novelist, historian, world traveller and bicycle camper!
Rev. Jim and Deb in front of a magnolia
Last night I was wined and dined by Rotarian Richard Montgomery and his wife.  Tonight we attend the 50th anniversary of the town doctor starting his practice here.  I got to meet the Bellhaven Mayor who expressed the deep concern of the community over the closing of their hospital by walking to Washington, DC.  I feel right at home here, where people understand making a long journey by human power to raise awareness!

Paddle Day: 71                                                       
Date: Dec 3, 2014
Start: Route 45 bridge                                            
End: Bellhaven
Distance: 12 miles                                                   
Paddle, hike, bike distance: 976.1 miles
Motor portaged: 251 miles
Total distance: 1227.1 miles
Max speed:  5.3 mph                                               
Moving ave.: 3.2 mph
Kayak storage:  Bellhaven Park                                 
Hosts: Rev. Jim Lufton

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