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, 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.
First day I paddled alone since I left Georgia back in October.  Was that why I was so disorganized?  First I forgot my Platypus hydration bag and couldn't paddle with nothing to drink.  Renee drove back to her house to get it.  Once she left I realized I had also forgotten my PFD!  Back goes Renee once again.  Finally I was off!

Launching from the beach in Vilano
Crossing the ICW towards St. Augustine, dealing with the rough water, I almost jumped out of my kayak when I was shot at.  Or at least that's what I first thought was happening when I was right below Castillo de San Marcos and a cannon was fired.

NPS photo of the cannon firing at Castillo de San Marcos
Beyond St. Augustine was miles of marsh, were I had one wonderful experience and one awful experience.  Being quietly blown past a sandbar covered with pelicans, led to a graceful dance as waves of pelicans took flight, one after another.

The same conditions of being blown by the wind led to the awful experience: being blown onto an oyster bar, and hearing the scraping sound of the sharp shells digging into the kayak hull.  
Failure to avoid an oyster bar.
It was fun using the Inuit paddle in the rough conditions.  At the beginning of the expedition, I only used it occasionally on very flat water, as I didn't have much experience with this different type of kayaking.  But now after over 1,900 miles, I'm using the Inuit paddle exclusively, as it is so much easier on my body.
Fighting the little waves with the Inuit paddle
Guy and his son, Grant, were at Crescent Beach to help me land.  As further evidence of my slipping organization, this was the first time I hadn't called ahead to make sure I could land at the selected spot.  Fortunately, Guy arrived there early and found the fish camp where I wanted to land and leave the kayak was closed.  He talked with a guy in the parking lot.  It turned out to be another Rotarian, a realtor who had recently handled the sale of the fish camp, who knew how to contact the owner for permission.  Great!  But even better, Guy is trying to sell his waterfront home, and heard that this particular realtor has a client who is looking for such a property.  Good things happen to those who help others.
Grant and Guy helping me land
Monday I spoke briefly at the St. Augustine Rotary Club, which meets at the Casa Monica, which is, as they say in the south, "high cotton".

The Casa Monica
Afterwards I had a walking tour of St. Augustine and heard so many amazing stories about all the people who have lived there, with Guy and Rotarian Dan Chetwood.
Deb and Dan across from Flagler University.
Great fun with Guy and Renee!
Guy, Deb and Renee on their dock
Gratitude List:
  1. Wonderful hospitality
  2. Flights of pelicans
  3. A kayak hull that can withstand oyster shells
  4. Seeing the Christmas lights of St. Augustine across the water
  5. Hearing loads of local stories

Date: December 6, 2015                                                Restart Paddle Day: 22
Start location: St. Augustine,  FL                                   Launch time: 11:00 am
End location: Crescent Beach                                        Land time: 1:55 pm
Average speed: 4.1 mph                                                Max Speed: 5.8 mph
Miles: 12
Total expedition miles with kayak: 1958                       Motor-portage miles: 397
Kayak Storage:  Genung Fish Camp
Hosts: Guy and Renee Tomasino

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