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.

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.
The weather forecast was for high winds as a strong front was moving through mid-day.  I tried to get ahead of it by launching early in the day in warm rain.  I had steadily increasing head winds as I made the six mile crossing towards Titusville.  The grayness was complete with overcast skies and dull gray seas.  

The grayness was broken once, with my first experience of "flamingo bombing". You know, when people come overnight and place a flock of hot pink plastic flamingos on your lawn.  My bombing was a flyover by four impossibly hot pink flamingos.   The sighting was so vivd because there was no other color - just uniform grayness - and then HOT pink!  They must have a lot of tasty shrimp to eat around here.  Worth the day of hard paddling.

CORRECTION:  Steve Sauter just let me know those were not flamingos, but roseate spoonbills.  But who ever heard of "roseate spoonbill bombing"?

It was very hard paddling into the wind.  In this kayak, wind definitely trumps current, and in the Indian River Lagoon there is very little current.  I wasn't sure I would be able to make it to the shelter of the causeway of the railway bridge.  I could see the bascule bridge open from quite a distance.  It stuck up at an odd angle.  Being in Kennedy Space Center territory, I wondered at first if it was a crooked launchpad crane , until I checked the charts and saw the railroad bridge.  But then it disappeared!  The bridge had been lowered.  I expected to see a train come along.  But after 30 minutes of expectation, I remembered that many bridges close when there are high winds.  I turned on my VHF radio to find out the latest marine forecast.  As soon as I heard there were 34 knot gusts in my area I knew why the bridge had closed: the front was coming sooner than expected.  Sure enough they announced that all small craft should head for a safe harbor.  Come to think of it, I hadn't seen a single craft, large or small, on the water all morning.  I changed my plans of paddling to our campsite, and headed for the closest marina.

This was getting ridiculous!  I had kayaked hard for two days just to cover the distance planned for one day!

I spent the rest of the day redoing my route with a less aggressive schedule.  Every time I get over confident about making great time with tail winds and following currents, I get pulled up short with my slow progress in adverse conditions. 

Hope the pulled muscles heal enough to paddle tomorrow.

Gratitude List:
  1. Hot pink flamingos
  2. Warn rain rather than cold rain
  3. A hot shower after paddling
  4. A husband who arrives at my emergency pull-out without even being phoned
  5. Sharing a tub of ice-cream
Date: December 18, 2015                                             Restart Paddle Day: 29
Start location: Haulover Canal, FL                                Launch time: 8:15 am
End location: Titusville                                                 Land time: 11:30 pm
Average speed: 3.0 mph                                               Max Speed: 4.6 mph
Miles: 9
Total expedition miles with kayak: 2050                      Motor-portage miles: 397
Kayak Storage:  Titusville Municipal Marina
Host: Chris Percival

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