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.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Paddle Day 74: Why did I paddle with gusts to 40 knots?

Why was I kayaking?
NOAA forecast for the Neuse River: Gale Warning, North winds 20 to 25 knots with gusts to 40 knots.  So why did I think I should still kayak? 
I should have known better.  The winds were obviously too high to kayak.  That was my first clue.  The folks in Oriental rallied around and found someone with a kayak trailer who could take me and my kayak from Oriental to Beaufort.  Bill Hines, Neuse Riverkeeper, called to offer me a ride.  He had a great idea.  He could take me  across the river on the ferry and then I could paddle the more protected route down to Beaufort.  I loved the idea, so we loaded up the kayak.
Bill and the kayak trailer
The second clue that it might not be the best day for kayaking was at the ferry landing.   The ferry wasn't running because the high winds had pushed so much water up the river that it couldn't dock.  But we went further upstream to the bridge to cross.

The third clue was when we arrived at Adams Creek, the more protected spot to start paddling.  Bill took one look at the wind and the waves on the water, and offered to take me all the way to Beaufort.  But I thought I could probably handle the conditions.  We both reasoned it would get better once I turned the corner and even better when I entered the narrow, protected canal.  I loaded up and Bill helped to push me off.
Bill helping me launch at Adams Creek

It wasn't too bad at first with the strong winds, and it felt good to be paddling again.  It was fun when the cruisers came by, slowed down and called out to wish me luck on getting to Guatemala.  I was looking forward to just getting to the narrow canal that would be more protected.
Friendly cruisers in the ICW
Once in the canal I realized I was wrong.  The winds were funneling down behind me and creating breaking waves.  They were a challenge, but manageable.  What got my attention were the gusts!  If I was angled a bit, they were almost succeeding in knocking me over.  When I was straight they tried to knock the paddle out of my hands.  This was too much.  Once I hit the incoming tide from Beaufort, the wind against the current made even larger waves.  I had calculated the timing for the tides based on paddling across the Neuse River.  Now I was here too soon for the outgoing tide and had to fight the waves and the current.  I looked at the charts and saw there would be little protection from the winds even when I left the canal, so I decided to call it a day.  I found the first marina on my charts and headed for it.  I was so happy to land safely at the Core Creek Lodge and see their big sign that said "OPEN".
Safe at Core Creek Lodge!
I called my host in Beaufort and got a ride to the NC Maritime Museum.  I was so thankful that in one day I had two sections of motor portage.
Keith and Josh unload my kayak
When Keith and Josh showed me the dock I was meant to land on, Josh noticed something odd under the dock.  He grabbed a boat hook and fished out...
Josh with his under dock find.
a crutch!  Small town that Beaufort is, the guys quickly decided they knew whose crutch it was and wondered about a weekend party that might have led to it's loss.

Beaufort has been wonderfully hospitable!  Lauren, who is the Logistics Queen who has been organizing my visit, loaned me a car.  I had a lovely dinner with a group of women leaders in town.
Southern hospitality with a great group of women leaders!
I spoke at the Morehead Rotary Club, and received a generous donation.  The Beaufort Rotary Club also gave generously.
John and Jane Capp with Deb and the Club President
I spoke at the Maritime Museum, and had an amusing introduction by Keith.  He started by explaining his professional involvement in the Stranded Marine Mammal program.  "I get calls about whales, seals, dolphins or other unusual mammals that are are stranded on a beach.  Yesterday I got one of those calls, and sprang into action.  We were able to arrange for safe transport, and can report that the mammal is now in our rehabilitation program.  She is doing well, and we expect she can be released into the wild on Thursday.  She now has a tracking device that will let us know how she does in the water, and will give us data on the success our rehabilitation program."

I do hope to leave Thursday morning.  There is still a small craft advisory in effect, but that is for out in the ocean.  The winds will be headwinds of 15 to 20 knots, but I hope I can tough it out to Emerald Isle.   We shall see.

It's been wonderful having fellow scientists, Keith and Vicky as hosts.  I've learned so much about the marine mammals they help, and even how to dry the bones of the ones who don't make it.  Those bones are used as educational exhibits.  I hope that Keith's analogy stops before it gets that far!

Paddle Day: 74                                                       
Date: Dec 8, 2014
Start: Oriental, NC                                          
End: Beaufort, NC
Distance: 8.6 miles                                                   
Paddle, hike, bike distance: 1028.7 miles
Motor portaged: 264 miles
Total distance: 1292.7 miles
Max speed:  5.5 mph                                               
Moving ave.: 3.3 mph
Kayak storage:  NC Maritime Museum                                
Hosts: Keith and Vicky Rittmaster

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