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 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.
Having only covered one day's worth of distance in two days, I was highly motivated to paddle.  Yes, there was a small craft advisory in effect.  But I would only be paddling close to shore, and the water along the route looked calm enough as we drove to the marina where I had stored my boat the day before.  Also, the wind had swung around and would no longer be in my face.  I should make good time.  So why not try it?

The front that came through the day before brought a 20 degree drop in the temperatures.  I was all suited up in my long sleeve Hydroskin shirt, neoprene cap and gloves.  Under my spray skirt I had on Hydroskin shorts, Sealskin waterproof knee socks and wool socks, with my Keen water shoes.  I hadn't needed this much paddle clothing since last winter in Virginia.

As I was preparing to leave the marina, a sailer from a 32 foot sail boat came by and said he would see me later as they would be leaving soon.   Only a few minutes later the wind suddenly increased and the direction shifted.  Yikes!  As I paddled past the sail boat, the sailer said they had decided against going out that day.  Yikes!

As I left the sheltered marina I was instantly facing two to three foot oncoming waves.  Yikes!  Of course the worst part of the day would be the start, as there was a long fetch at the marina for the waves to build up.  I dug in and paddled hard and delicately to maneuver among the breaking waves.  I had to head out far enough so the waves wouldn't push me into the rocks of the break-water.  But once out far enough, I had to turn so I could get back to the little cut in the causeway next to shore.  It would have been too dangerous to paddle all the way out to the boat channel in the middle of the causeway, as the waves were breaking waves everywhere.  As it was I got picked up by a wave and surfed almost into a bridge abutment at the cut.  The adrenaline was surging!  But if I could just get through the cut, the waves would go away.

Chris caught me on video as I paddled along.  First you see my kayak up on the wave...

On top of a wave
... and then you don't see the kayak at all.
In the trough
Yes, the other side was protected by the causeway and the paddling became easier.  But once I was out of the wind shadow of the causeway, the waves started growing again.  I started surfing again.  Not intentionally.  I was making great time, but it wasn't safe for me out there alone.  Not a single other boat on the water once again.  But there was nowhere to land.  The shore was covered with homes with high, private docks.  Finally I spied a boat ramp ahead where the road was adjacent to the shore.  But the ramp turned out to be a falling down dock.  Not possible to land there.  But at least the road was there and I wouldn't have to land in a stranger's yard and not be able to get my kayak through locked fences and walls.

The waves pushed me ashore and I jumped out before the kayak would have crashed into oyster encrusted stumps of old dock pilings.  I was able to lift the unloaded kayak over the pilings and onto a tiny kayak sized beach at the foot of a six foot cliff.  Whew!  I used my Delorme inReach Explorer satellite communicator to send a preset message, "Landed for the day here."  My hope was that Chris would get the email and see my position on the website and find me.

I used my Inuit paddle to haul myself up the cliff and stood by the side of the road so Chris could see me.  The winds were so strong that I stood behind a palm tree for protection.  It was only a few minutes before Chris appeared.  My knight in shining red truck!

But how do we get the kayak up the cliff?  I scrambled back down to the kayak.  Chris pulled out the canvas tow strap that my good paddling friend Anne gave him.  I hooked it to the bow of the kayak.  Chris hauled up and I lifted up the stern.  Piece of cake!  Getting the kayak onto the truck in the high winds was a little more precarious.  Good thing there where two of us, so Chris could hold the kayak on while I cinched up the straps on the Yakima rack.

Why did I go out these last two days?  When I look at my float plan that I update every day, I found one answer.  I always note the wind direction, speed, wave heights and temperatures, as well as tide times.  For both of these days those columns on the float plan were blank.  In my excitement over switching to this fully supported expedition, I slipped up on my planning.  No one to blame except myself!

Learned of more serious kayak rescue that day when talked with ranger at Cape Canaveral National Seashore.  A man kayaking a little creek kept flipping and his kayak filled with water.  I guess he didn't have a pump as he ended up in the water for forty-five minutes before being rescued.  He must have been disoriented by flipping and unable to think clearly.  They rescued him by simply telling him to stop trying to swim against the current and to just drift with it.  In less than five minutes he drifted onto shore.

Took a day off to travel six hours to talk with a Safe Passage donor.  Always a worthwhile use of time!

Gratitude List:
  1. Making it safely to shore
  2. Being warm and cosy in the rough conditions
  3. Making it safely to shore
  4. My Inuit paddle loving the surf
  5. Making it safely to shore

Date: December 19, 2015                                             Restart Paddle Day: 30
Start location: Titusville, FL                                         Launch time: 8:15 am
End location: Titusville                                                Land time: 8:37 am
Average speed: 3.9 mph                                               Max Speed: 6.9 mph
Miles: 2
Total expedition miles with kayak: 2052                      Motor-portage miles: 397
Kayak Storage:  Manatee Hammock Campground
Host: Chris Percival

1 comment:

  1. Hello Deb: it was great to hear of your efforts and hope you staying warm, and will have some quiet and warm time over the holidays. Miss working with you even though it's been 12 years or so! Best wishes. Joe Gardella