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.

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.

I left Port Royal in the sun, with the river lines with marshes full of pluff mud, oysters and Spartina
Pluff mud, oysters and Spartina marsh
The following currents were so strong I had to stop paddling and just float down the river.   I didn't want to arrive at the end of Parris Island until the tide turned.    As I drifted silently along, passing a little creek entering the river, I head a sound I hadn't heard for years.  When canoeing some of the white water rivers in the Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada, there was a distinctive sound when the muddy waters of swollen tributary flowed into the clearer waters of the main river.   We saw the boundary remain between muddy and clear water for quite a way.  When we entered the muddy water we heard the tiny sounds of the sand and mud particles hitting the canoe to create a kind of soft rustling.  That was the sound I heard.  It must be sand particles from the stream rushing past the kayak.

The clouds were beginning to gather as I reached Parris Island and the Marine Corp training camp. I became worried about approaching thunder storms, and drifted close to the shore.  I heard an ominous deep rumble.  Maybe thunder?  But it just continued at a near constant pitch.  Then I realized it must be the Marines!  During calisthenics and training runs they are constantly shouting and sounding forth with call and response ditties.  They sounded pretty terrifying to me!

As I continued to float past I thought about how these young Marines are being formed into a well oiled military machine.  I thought about what happens when they come back from war in the middle east and have to reenter civil society.  They must become so close to each other during training and when deployed.  Coming back must be hard, not just because of the things they experience in war, but also loosing that constant close companionship.  At Church on Sunday I met David Lauderdale, a local reporter who told us about a story he is working on following a drill instructor at Parris Island.  David's imitation of the sound the Marines made while training was exactly what I had heard.

The thunderstorms arrived with increased winds and heavy rain.  Although it was warm I finally pulled out and donned my paddle jacket.  I was very worried about the next leg of the journey where I needed to cross Port Royal Sound.  If a thunder storm swept through then, visibility would drop and I'd have to paddle on a compass bearing, unable to see land.  I decided to hang at the bottom of Paris Island and not cross the sound until I could see a long stretch of sky clear of storms.  As I waited with the rain pouring down hard all around me, I was worried I might not have the patience and start across in spite of the weather.  (When I arrive in Hilton Head the front page story of the Island Packet newspaper was about Santa Elena, a Spanish settlement founded 450 years ago on Parris Island, almost right where I was waiting out the storm.)

I did manage to wait and when there was a long clear spell headed across.  There was a thunder storm on my port and clear skies on starboard.  Only four miles, but the waters were a little rough from the wind.  After just drifting with the current, I built up quite a sweat paddling hard to cross the sound.  If I slowed down at all the current would push me over towards the thunderstorm.  Felling the first drops would propel me to higher energy levels to get back over towards the clear sky.

Once I was close enough to the Hilton Head Island on the other side of the sound, I relaxed, and switched back to my Greenland paddle.  I had time to look around more and heard some calling "Deb!"  There where two people on the beach in front of the palm trees and live oaks.  There were my hosts, Mary-Stuart and Jack Alderman.  They had been tracking me on my Delorme Mapshare website.  We chatted briefly before I headed up Skull Creek to reach the landing site.  Jack got some great shots of me:
Glad to have crossed the sound.
At the landing I met Mary-Stuart and Pennie and Kent Grimes, who had come to welcome me.
Pennie and Kent Grimes at Hudson's
Deb and Mary-Stuart after two Rotary meetings in 13 hours.
Three nights on Hilton Head has been a treat.  Natural beauty and lots of active people who are interested in helping others at home and internationally.  Two Rotary Club visits: Hilton Head Island- Sunset and Hilton Head Island-Van Landingham.
at Hilton Head Sunset Rotary Club at the yacht club
Deb, Mary-Stuart and Jack Alderman
Date: October 10, 2015                                                    Restart Paddle Day: 7
Start location: Port Royal,  South Carolina                        Launch time: 10:30 am
End location:  Hilton Head                                               Land time: 2:30 pm
Average speed: 4.3 mph                                                   Max Speed: 6.3 mph
Miles: 14
Total expedition miles with kayak: 1659                           Motor-portage miles: 330
Kayak Storage: Hudson's Seafood Restaurant
Hosts: Mary-Stuart and Jack Alderman

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