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.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Paddle Day 34: The best of times...the worst of times

A yellow wooden boat bigger than mine
Started as a wonderful paddling day as I hopped from tropical island to tropical island along the coast.  Gentle rain and rainbows.  Then the wind picked up and I battled waves trying to find a safe place to land.

It was so nice when I started paddling.  I was actually enjoying the paddling for the first time in a long time, as I paddled from island to island.  I love islands.   Between islands I rode the following seas and bounced up and down on the waves.  In the lee of each island there was smoother water for a while.  Lots of folks were out enjoying the 80 degree weather on the water and at the island beaches.

Yet another abandoned boat, and a little sailing cat on the white sand shore
As a gentle rain began I recalled the Christmas dinner conversation where I was trying to design a system to keep showering water on me to keep me cool as I paddle.  This is the ultimate solution: short rain showers that keep coming through all day.

The rainbows were wonderful.  At one point I could clearly see the end of the rainbow on the water.  So close to that pot of gold.  Another time I paddled towards the arch of the rainbow, and it felt like I was about to paddle right under it.  Rainbows are special at Safe Passage, as the cafeteria wall has a wonderful mural showing the darkness before Safe Passage, and then children passing through the Safe Passage arch into a colorful garden of flowers and butterflies and a huge rainbow.  I can't see a rainbow without thinking of the Safe Passage children finally being able to have dreams and the means to achieve their dreams.

One island had a yellow wooden ship anchored near it's beach.  A pirate ship?  A ship that brought immigrants from Europe to live in North America?  The Susan Constant?   The Godspeed?  The Discovery?

The islands are spoil islands created by dredging the channel for the ICW.  They occured on my route about every half mile.  Such fun.

Lot of pelicans flying by and sitting on spits of sand.

Pelican passing
Off each island was a sandy spit that went way out into the water, with waves breaking at the spit.  My challenge was to find a spot deep enough to cross, without loosing too much of the wind shadow of the island.  The herons were a great help, as there was often one wading the spit.  I would use the amount of leg that was missing to accurately judge the depth.  Didn't ground out once!

By late morning the winds had kicked up and it was no longer fun being on the water.  I would paddle along, then get picked up by a wave and surfed towards shore, and then have to turn and paddle broadside for a while to get back out to deeper water.    I was looking for anywhere to land.  As I rounded one point I saw Chris atop a cliff and hoped that meant I could land.  But nothing there.  I'd have to continue.  I got surfed into a shallow bay and would have given up, but the shore was covered by rocky rip rap.  Fought my way back out.  I was starting to make one of those kayaking promises.  "If I can just get safely to shore, I'll never kayak again."

Chris had found a kayak beach he thought I should land at.  But the surf going towards there looked very dicey.  I opted to take the longer route and paddle back into the little creek where I knew there was a boat ramp.

So glad to get off the water.  As I sponged out the bilge water in my cockpit, I was surprised it was red.  Could it be my blood from the little nasty bugs that ride along in my cockpit and bite me around my ankles and the edge of my Hydroskin shorts forming big rashes?  Or could it be something dissolving in the DEET that floats on the bilge water from me spraying inside the cockpit to get ride of the nasty little bugs?  Could it be my red cockpit cover dissolving?  Or my red gortex rainhat?  I hope the DEET doesn't dissolve my carbon fiber paddle or my kayak.  Yikes!

Came to our new campsite.  Depressing.  Two toilets for 35 sites.  Most campers are using RV's, but even so, it's been hours and I have yet to find one vacant.  Too much hydrating while I was kayaking today I guess.

Gratitude List:
  1. Lots of islands
  2. Lots of pelicans
  3. Rain showers to cool me off
  4. Rainbows to inspire me
  5. Arriving safe on shore
Date: December 26, 2015                                             Restart Paddle Day: 34
Start location: Sebastian, FL                                         Launch time: 8:40 am
End location: Palm Bay                                                 Land time: 1:31 pm
Average speed: 3.8 mph                                               Max Speed: 5.6 mph
Miles: 18
Total expedition miles with kayak: 2106                      Motor-portage miles: 404
Kayak Storage:  Fort Pierce KOA
Host: Chris Percival

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