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.

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!
I set out in a warm, light sprinkle, to see if I could make it the 19 miles to the next possible stopping point.  I had worried for months about being able to make it across this section.  Was I recovered enough?  Was I in shape enough?  Would I have to call the coast guard for a rescue?  But as usual, the worry was far worse than the reality.  Yes, I got over heated exerting myself as I paddled quickly across the endless marsh.  But I found through the Spartina, a tiny spot of mud covered sand, and pulled ashore to change out of my neoprene, and into a long sleeve sun top.
Stopping to change my top
It then became a hot, but delightful paddle, watching the dolphins play and seeing the alligators swimming past.  There were so many birds, and leaping fish.  Wonderful to be back on the water in such a remote area.  After two hours, I was starting to feel it in my shoulders, so switched from the euro paddle to my Greenland paddle.  Now I was using a wooden paddle with my wooden kayak.  Back to basics.  The best part of using the Greenland is that it is so easy on the body with much less stress than the euro.  It actually acts as a wing through the water, with the power face on top.  The Inuit were expert paddlers and this simple blade evolved as an incredibly efficient tool.  So why do I use the euro blade at all?  I don;t have as many hours with the Greenland, so it is not as instinctual for me.  That may change by the end of this expedition.

Another advantage of the Greenland is that it is silent.  It makes no noise going through the water.  Suddenly I can hear more birds and ....what's that splash I keep hearing behind me?  Oh, that's the alligators!  Maybe the silence of the Greenland is a disadvantage.  Maybe I'd rather not know about the alligators?

In places where the pluff mud banks were higher, they were riddled with tiny holes.  Scrambling out of the holes were hundreds of tiny crabs, dashing up the bank and skedadelling into the Spartina.   They reminded me so much of cockroaches that I quickly paddled out into deeper water.  You know about pluff mud?  It has so many organisms doing their anaerobic activity that it is very nutritious.  In fact that's how it got it's name.  The early settlers would dig it up and spread it on their fields as fertilizer.  So it was called "plough mud".  But that could be pronounced to rhyme with "rough", and they simplified the spelling to "pluff".
Where tiny crabs came out of their pluff mud holes.
My other worry had been about the tides.  Back in Myrtle Beach I had gotten the tides wrong and suffered all day paddling against string currents.  Today I got the timing right, and even in the few spots where I had to paddle against the current, there were eddies along the sides that allowed me to zip up the channel.  I wonder if my next paddle will be so good.  Local boaters are saying that there are so many tidal nodes in this area, that you can't pick a good time.  You just have to realize sometimes you will fight the current and other times you will use it to speed along.  We shall see.
Arriving in McClellandville
After less than five hours on the water I arrived in McClellandville, a lovely small town with lots of writers and artists and great community spirit.  On Saturday morning Chris and I joined our hosts, Rustin and Teresa Gooden in having snacks at the art coop that was celebrating it's three year anniversary, and in trying out the new coffee shop on it's first day of business.  Karen, the owner, went to volunteer in Guatemala at an orphanage when she was 17, and now they are serving Guatemalan coffee in South Carolina.  She is also a professor, and told of so inspiring one of her students with her tales of Guatemala, that he went there for spring break to volunteer.  He was so moved that he dropped out of school to remain serving in Guatemala.  Karen clearly understands what has driven me to work for the children of Guatemala.
My elegant purse in the new coffee shop.  Recognize the Gallo?
Our hosts, Rusty and Teresa, have a business of their own: Bulls Bay Saltworks.  They harvest the salt from the bay.  Bulls Bay is said to have the cleanest water (and air) of anywhere in the US.  Could that be why their salt is so phenomenal?  Or could it be their attention to detail and great recipes?  Their latest is Red Mash Sea Salt, that is flavored with the leftover hot pepper mash from the folks who make Red Clay hot sauces.  It is amazingly good, but I think my favorite is still their smoked sea salt.
The newest addition at Bulls Bay Saltworks
Rustin and Teresa are excellent cooks and we have feasted on their local shrimp and free range chickens.  Great simple food and wonderful evenings sharing stories of our lives.  Life is good.  Life is very good!  This is the life I want the children at Safe Passage to enjoy, and I know that they will.
Rustin, Deb and Teresa
Date: September 25, 2015                                                Restart Paddle Day: 2
Start location: South Island Boat Ramp , South Carolina     Launch time: 8:10 am
End location:  McClellandville                                           Land time: 1:00 pm
Average speed: 4.1 mph                                                   Max Speed: 6.1 mph
Miles: 19
Total expedition miles: 1532
Kayak Storage: Leland Marine
Hosts: Rustin and Teresa Gooden

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