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, December 9, 2014

Paddle Day 73: Half Way Point - Bear - Oriental Welcome

Bernie (who has crossed the US with a mule) welcomes me to Oriental
Eventful day! Passed the half way point of the expedition.  Saw a bear.  Paddled in the calm before the upcoming storm.  Wonderful welcome in Oriental.

Clair and Kay took me by boat back to my kayak parked on the canal for another day of paddling.   Right at the point on the canal that marked the halfway point of the expedition there was a bear!  What a great way to celebrate the halfway point (1,250 miles)!  NPR ran a story in the afternoon about the increase in the number of black bears in eastern North Carolina over the last few decades from 3,000 to over 20,000.   The bears have gotten much larger as well, and no longer hibernate.  One reason is the change in agriculture in the region from tobacco and cotton to soybeans and corn.  
Half way point to Guatemala - it's a bear!
Most of the day was through wild country, with lots of little beaches.  I made a record number of pit stops – Kay sure makes great sweat tea!

The marine forecast is awful for the next five days, so this was the last chance to paddle in the calm before the storm.    Gale warnings are in effect for high winds with gusts up to 40 knots.  I spent a large part of the paddle looking at my charts and figuring out my options.  I would have to cross the Neuse River, which they say is the widest river in the US!  With the winds from the north east, it would be very, very rough.  What to do?
Paddling the calm before the storm
As I neared Beaufort, I was joined by Heather, a great kayaker and SUP racer.  She has done the route of my next paddle (Oriental to Beaufort) on an SUP!
Heather paddled out to meet me
We received a big welcome to the small town of Oriental.  It has 900 full-time residents, and over 3,000 registered sailboats.  The local weekly ran a front page story on my expedition before I landed Word spread around town and there were 10 people, 3 photographers and 2 dogs on the dock to meet me as I pulled into town on Saturday afternoon.

Oriental is well known on the cruising circuit as a great town to stop in. There are multiple sail lofts and ships chandleries here, as well as lots of other cruisers to swap stories with and compare navigational notes. The Shipping News is a column in the local on-line paper that comments on the new arrivals in town, and Bernie Harberts was there to interview me.  (He wrote a great book about his adventure riding a mule across the US and back: Too Proud to Ride a Cow.)
Bernie and Deb share adventures.
On Sunday morning I went to the local coffee shop to use the internet.  I didn't get much of my blogging and navigation work done. I wasn't doing too badly when I was just eavesdropping on the cruising folks. But once someone recognized me as the kayaker, it was all over.  Listening to their stories and sharing mine took up the rest of my morning.

One of the many Oriental (Mayberry?) stories: Driving home one evening in Oriental. Seeing a man riding a bicycle. Hearing a police car come up, and the siren go “Brrrup, Brrrup.” Man on bicycle pulls over to the side of the road, saying “Oh no, I'm in trouble.”  Policeman walks up to him, “Jimmy, you know we've talked about this. You have no business on a bicycle when you're drunk.”

Name of the town: Ship wrecked off the coast – a steel hulled ship went aground due to a navigational error. Someone from this area picked up the ship's name board “Oriental” and brought it home. When they needed to name the post office (and town) folks wanted a unique name so that their mail wouldn't get lost. Out came the name board and the town got it's name.

Lots of folks come to visit Oriental and then think about living here. One of the first steps is to rent a FROG for a season to see if they like staying here. (Furnished Room Over Garage) Lots of folks do like it and retire here.   Humm... would Chris and I like it here?

Clair repaired the bow camera mount, and strapped my kayak securely to the town dock so it wouldn't get blown away in the coming wind.  I love that the docks around here are all made from concrete "hog slats".  They withstand hurricanes very well.
Secured kayak on hog slat dock with Clair and Kay
Paddle Day: 73                                                       
Date: Dec 6, 2014
Start: Hobucken, NC                                          
End: Oriental, NC
Distance: 22.5 miles                                                   
Paddle, hike, bike distance: 1020.1 miles
Motor portaged: 251 miles
Total distance: 1271.1 miles
Max speed:  5.3 mph                                               
Moving ave.: 3.6 mph
Kayak storage:  Oriental Town Dock                                
Hosts: Clair and Kay Hofmann


  1. Congratulations Deb! We are so proud of you and your determination to focus on your goal.

  2. I have one suggestion, could you put the state name after you start and end locations? I only come by occasionally and I lose track. Congrats on the halfway mark!