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 30, 2015

Peddle Day 37: Why do I keep going?

Paddler forced to become peddler
Biking again today instead of kayaking.  Makes the route a lot longer, but much faster.  Time left over to visit the aquarium to see the underwater life in the lagoon.  Time to ponder why I keep going despite so many obstacles that would be reason enough to stop.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Peddle Day 36: Biking the Beaches Under the Banyan Tree

Sunset at Jetty Park
Tried to rest my injured wrist and dry my damaged kayak by biking the route today.   Needed a gel seat because of the problem with my gel coat.  Hoped to bike two days worth of kayaking so I could make the future kayaking legs a little shorter in future.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Paddle Day 35: Paddle, Peddle, Paddle

Leaving Vero Beach Marina in a light rain.
Wrist problems led to a change of plans.  Paddled for six miles, then peddled for 12 miles and finally paddled briefly in the surf.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Paddle Day 34: The best of times...the worst of times

A yellow wooden boat bigger than mine
Started as a wonderful paddling day as I hopped from tropical island to tropical island along the coast.  Gentle rain and rainbows.  Then the wind picked up and I battled waves trying to find a safe place to land.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Paddle Day 32: Heading North and the Tale of the Fish and the Osprey

Approaching Cocoa
Not too exciting day along developed shores.  Interesting wildlife sightings none the less.  Large breaking waves from behind sound like freight trains.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Paddle Day 33: Christmas at 82 Degrees is Too Hot!

Under a bridge on Christmas Eve
Christmas in the subtropics is strange for folks from Maine.  Children say it best.  And a student from Guatemala expresses what Safe Passage has meant for him.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Paddle Day 31: Finally Successful Rocket Launch and Kayak Launch

Following seas and paddling backwards does the trick
This fully supported expedition provides many new options.  After three days of not being able to complete my distance for the day, I finally managed to complete a full day's paddle - by paddling backwards.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Paddle Day 30: Foiled again!

Kayak on vanishing beach at the base of a cliff
High winds sent me ashore about just a few miles of wild paddling and too many instances of accidental surfing.  Wish I could have found a better landing place than the base of a small cliff.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Paddle Day 29: 34 knot winds and Flamingo Bombed

Grey day crossing
Got up before dawn to try to beat the winds on a grey, rainy day.  Rapidly moving strong front got the better of me and I obeyed the NOAA advisory for small craft to enter harbor.  Not before having pulled some muscles paddling against the strong wind.  The highlight of the day was being flamingo bombed.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Paddle Day 28: Wildlife of Mosquito Lagoon and Paddling Failure

Manatee on the run!
First day of the fully supported expedition!  Only the forth time in nine months of paddling that I wasn't able to paddle to my intended destination.  Enjoyed the wildlife in Mosquito Lagoon.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Paddle Day 27: Now it's a fully supported expedition!

Flowery silk scarf so folks stop thinking I'm a guy, and for sun protection
Last day of the USA part of the expedition where I have to paddle with my gear!  Get to see my husband!  Went the wrong way for the first time!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Paddle Day 26: Birds galore!

Flock of Black Skimmers takes flight
Another nice paddle with lots of entertainment: first manatee sighting, tug goes aground, new on-water exercise routine, deafening speed boat races without mufflers, collected trash from the waterway, developed new technique to pee.  Then rest days filled with fun: carol service, walking the beach and working at a thrift shop.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Paddle Day 25: Fork lift the kayak out of the water??!!

Nice December paddling near Daytona Beach
Joined by Tom on his surf ski for the first hour.  Relaxed paddle to Daytona Beach.  Near panic when the dockmaster decided to use a forklift to lift my loaded kayak out of the water!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Paddle Day 24: Relaxed paddle and sail fail.

Color photo of the drama in the sky
Nice day of paddling.  Sail fail.  Another fun loving Rotary Club.  Sharing the Safe Passage stories and philosophy.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Paddle Day 23: Tinkling Shells and Palm Coast

Kayaking along a tinkling shell beach

Challenges of first day I've carried my full load of gear since I entered Georgia.  Seeing neighbors from home, and a warm Palm Coast welcome from a Rotary Club that knows how to have fun.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Paddle Day 22: Windy Pelican Flights and St. Augustine

Pelicans leaving their sand bar.
Wind and waves made this the roughest day I've paddled so far - with the Inuit paddle, that is.  St. Augustine tales were entertaining.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Paddle Day 21: High Winds in St Augustine

Training in the surf at St. Augustine Inlet
Really fast day of paddling with following currents and following winds.  Then watching the ACA L4 training in the inlet, since the conditions were too wild on the Atlantic beaches.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Villages, Florida: Rotary Speaking Tour and Christmas Trees Galore

Receiving a gift of a wine glass from The Villages Evening Rotary Club
Took off five days from paddling to travel to The Villages to speak at Rotary Clubs and visit with good friends Roberta and Gary Walker.  Then back to Pat Ellis in Jacksonville.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Paddle Day 20: Still going through Jacksonville

House moved from JAX by boat to this ICW location
Another perfect weather day paddling the Intracoastal Waterway.  Great company with Sharon again!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Paddle day 19: Back on the water moving through Jacksonville, Florida

Pat snaps and Deb grunts.
Went flying down the ICW today with Sharon and Joey.  Following current and a tail wind!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Family Gatherings: My family and others

Thanksgiving with Pat Ellis's family
Lots of family gatherings.  Spent time in Rochester, NY with my daughter-in-law's family celebrating the life of her father.  Then Thanksgiving in Jacksonville with Pat Ellis's family.  It is so special to be invited to join in large family events.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Guatemala Connections in Chicago and Rotary's Campaign to End Polio

At RI Headquarters:  The women of Chipastor!
A spur of the moment trip to Chicago led to more Guatemala connections, thanks to an invitation from Marga Hewko.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Global Women of Action at the United Nations

Deb and the other five "Global Women of Action" at the UN
I was so humbled to be honored at the United Nations as a "Global Woman of Action".

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Paddle Day 18: Paddling Companions and Drones

Joey in his carbon Petrel Play
Great day paddling with Joey Schott (Turning Point Kayaks) and Sharon Sugden, including a drone encounter!  Lost my first piece of equipment in 1909 miles!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Video from a Safe Passage student about following your dreams

This short video is the advice of a Safe Passage student about following your dreams.  Pat Ellis, who has volunteered for so many years helping the English program at Safe Passage told me she was almost in tears as she watched and listened.  "When the English program started, we had no idea how successful it could become."  Being able to speak English has been so important for many Safe Passage graduates to get a good job.  Thank you to the many volunteers who have worked so hard, and an even bigger thank you to the students who have studied so hard!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Paddle Day 17: Made it to Florida!

Two reporters and Art and Theresa at arrival
Last minute route change added six miles, but made the day much easier.  Like coming home staying with the Schusters!

Friday, October 30, 2015

The tides are not cooperating: I don't want to paddle at night

Demonstrating the Greenland paddle to the press
Plans change with the tides and the wind, and great people help me out.

Paddle Day 16: High High Tides and Deep Deep Conversation

Fort Frederica with soggy cannons 
Wet and windy day with strong currents.  Record high tide flooding they say.

Paddle Day 15: Going with the flow is great. Against it not so much.

Spanish moss of dead tree
Moment of terror in Darien.  Moment of terror on the Hampton River.  Yikes!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Paddle Day 14: Long day in the marshes, followed by southern hospitality

Sunrise on the marsh (credit Bill Watson)
After an amazing sunrise, I spent a long day on the water, zigzagging along little creeks.  Then exceptional southern hospitality at church and home.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Paddle Day 13: Disaster Averted, Crab Balls and Jelly Balls

Shrimp boats and paddling a skiff
Touch and go to avert disaster, then clear sailing to coastal culture.

Paddle Day 12: Windy Trip to an Island Paradise

Up close and personal
After four days not paddling, it was good to get back on the water, but the wind beat me up, and I landed tired and hurting.  Meeting my hosts who took me by boat to their island paradise revived me!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Adventures of Patito Amistoso: Chapter Seven

See with Sandy!
Dear Children in Guatemala and around the world,

It's been a while since I have written, because we had a little halt in the expedition while Deb recovered from her neck injury.  Now we are back on the water, and I had a great day yesterday.  I guess I should also tell you about the celebration in Guatemala last spring as well.

Rotary Hospitality: We are all connected.

Happy Rotarians: Bill Jahn, Karena and Tom Macek, Deb, Karen Jahn and Tonnie Marwitz
I spent four days being hosted by great Rotarians, and found so many connections, and even people I already knew.  It's a small world.  Wonderful discussions about Safe Passage, garbage and the economics of poverty.

Monday, October 19, 2015

7790 PDG Deb Walters to be Honored at the United Nations

Dr. Deb Walters
Rotary International President K.R.Ravindran announced that six Rotarians from around the world have been selected as Global Women of Action.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Foiled again! Small Craft Advisories

Deb on dock in Hilton Head - back when there were no small craft advisories!
Feeling good after four days of paddling.  Glad to have one day of rest.  But now have two days of Small Craft Advisories and cannot paddle!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Paddle Day 11: Flying down the river, but floating cars, dressers and sofas???

Talking with Patito in my pocket
Fast day going with the current - until the last two miles going against the peak current.  Scary tales from sailors who navigated the flooded rivers in Charleston.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Paddle Day 9: Reached Georgia!

Taking a short cut by lining the kayak in the Savannah River
Hard day going against the wind the whole time, and against the tides half the time.  But great to see old paddling friends in Savannah!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Paddle Day 8: Rotary, Interview, Beat up by the Wind, and Magic on Daufuski

The Island Packet Photographer on the dock
What a day!  Breakfast Rotary meeting, followed by conference call, then a media interview and  onto the water and paddling into the wind.  Finally reached Daufuski to a huge reception, a chance to give an impromptu talk about Safe Passage, and then a wonderful evening with inspiring conversation.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Paddle Day 7: Currents, Thunderstorms and Big Crossing

Yellow headless kayaking monster
Two hours of just floating with the currents, ten minutes of terror, one hour hard work crossing Port Royal Sound, and another hour of easy paddling.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Flooding, seafood bonanza and Guatemala landslide

Throwing back a female blue crab
So happy to have made it safe and sound to Beaufort, SC, thanks to so many generous people.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Still pinned down in Charleston: 24.23 inches rain in 24 hours

Rain pummels Charleston (and me)
As my routes over the next few days require going upstream up sections of the rivers that drain South Carolina, this storm will prevent me from paddling until the rivers go down.  Flooded roads mean I can't get a ride for me and my kayak.  Pinned down in Charleston, South Carolina.  Hearing about mudslides in Guatemala.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Trapped in bad weather in Charleston, South Carolina

Atmospheric River pumping tropical rain right to Charleston, South Carolina
National weather reporters are calling Charleston, South Carolina the worst place in the US weather wise with a once in a lifetime weather event.  National Weather Service calling it a 1/200 or even a 1/500 year event with over 16 inches of rain.  An "atmospheric river" is pumping tropical water up from Hurricane Joaquin.  There are flood warnings on the rivers and rip tide warnings on the coast.  It would be a very dangerous time to be kayaking, especially as I would be paddling these flooded rivers.

While glad I'm not on the water, I'm not feeling real comfy staying here in Charleston on one of the creeks.  It is a small tidal creek, so hopefully the rain based flooding will not be too bad.   The tides today are predicted to be one of the ten highest tides ever recorded.  I'll feel better after high tide at 1:00 p.m.  Isolated tornados are also being predicted.  Although this is rare, there were tornadoes here on James Island earlier this week.

If there is an evacuation notice I will have to beg a ride with neighbors, as there is no vehicle where I am staying.  I'll keep you posted.

Gratitude list:
  1. Watching the heavens pour from inside a dry house
  2. Time to reflect on the purpose of this expedition
  3. Messages of support from Maine to Florida
  4. Time to create the biography, the photos and the presentations for the award to be announced October 20th
  5. Sleeping with the lovely sound of rain on a hot tin roof.
UPDATE:  CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- All traffic to Charleston, Folly Beach and Edisto Beach are shut down and Dorchester County set a curfew from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. in response to widespread flooding across the Lowcountry.

President Obama declared a state of emergency in South Carolina.  The list of road closures is long, including the roads to get me by road to Edisto Island tomorrow as planned.

Walked to the grocery store to get food for today, but many refrigerated shelves and cases are empty because of frequent power outages.

So glad to be safe and dry.

Deb and Ellie

Date: Saturday, October 3, 2015
Location: James Island, Charleston, South Carolina
Host: Ellie Maas Davis

Friday, October 2, 2015

Hurricane Skip and Stories of Generosity

Photo from Charleston Post and Courier
The hurricane prediction has gotten better for this area, but the heavy rains and thunderstorms were still enough for me to do a "weather skip."  So no paddling for a few days, just stories of generosity.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Paddle Day 5: Snowy Egrets, Flooded docks and Joaquin

Happy Chris Crolley
A tired day as I paddled against the current more than I thought I would.  Fun interactions with paddle boarders, kayakers and the media.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Paddle Day 3: More wildlife, lots of tidal nodes and lunar eclispe

Pelican lifting off
After a rest day, headed out to paddle two days at one go.  Saw alligators, pelicans, jumping fish and a swimming deer.  Glad to arrive before the thunderstorms let loose with torrential downpours!  Have to stay up to see the supermoon lunar eclipse.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Paddle Day 2: Alligators, Dolphins and Amazing Salt!

Great day on the water
After being so worried about whether I could restart the expedition, and then about whether I could handle the first long day of 19 miles, it was so nice to have a joyful day on the water, and to be with such great people!