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, January 5, 2016

Paddle Day 41: Decision Time

Paddling the narrow sections of the ICWW
Almost to one natural stopping point.  Will I stop?
Back in the kayak today, speed along by a north wind on a narrow section of the ICWW.  None the less, it was pretty tiring.  Made me think about the Quebec tale of La Chasse-galerie,  the flying canoe where the voyagers are condemned to an eternity of paddling across the sky.   Will I be paddling forever?

The water and the boat traffic remind me of the place I cut my canoeing teeth: the Niagara River and the Erie Canal.  Lots of boat traffic, poor water quality, and adequate floating garbage.  Herein Florida that includes floating coconuts.   If I were in Guatemala, I'd have my trusty machete along and could crack one open for a drink.

Where's my machete?
There was a marina on the Niagara river with a vertical break-wall, just like along much of this section of the ICWW.  As a physicist I understand how the boat wakes hit the wall and are reflected off at an angle.  Those reflected waves then intersect with the original wake to create a waffle pattern of higher highs and lower lows.  In an area without much in the way of natural waves, we would hang out there in our canoes and kayaks to play in the "clapotis".   My favorite trip on the Niagara River was to circumnavigate Grand Island, a 35 mile trip going against the current half the time and with the current the other half.  Grand Island is a few miles above Niagara Falls, so you don't want to get carelessly swept away.  One unfortunate kayaker had died going over the falls (an intentional suicide it was assumed).  Not too long after that, I was doing the loop solo.  I had just stopped at a beach at the upstream end of the island for lunch, and was heading back into the flow, when I started getting chest pains.  I was frantically looking for something I could write on to explain that I had tied before I went over the falls.  (Pride goes before the fall.) Then I finally realized it must just be indigestion from the salami stick I had just eaten.

Had to have the right hat decorations today:
Hat feathers?
At several points the ICWW widened out into small lagoons.  As I kayaked through one there was some fishing going on.  I saw a whole circle of fish jump up out of the water heading outwards from the center point in an amazing synchronized fish dance.  In the center was a circular pattern of disturbed water.  I wonder what was trying to catch them.

As I passed a Hobie Cat, where the guy was sailing and pedaling,  I thought how that might have been an easier expedition kayak to use.
Hobi Cat sailing and peddeling
It's more fun passing the expensive houses and condos and mega yachts by water than by land on a bike.  Lots of big yachts registered in the Cayman Islands.  Maybe it's tax related.

Nice digs.
This could almost be the end of the expedition.  When I look at my Delorme Mapshare website, I see there is only about 5 miles that separate the 2252 miles of blue dots I've covered by kayak and bike and the 1025 miles of blue dots I sailed from Florida to Guatemala on SV Polaris this spring.
My DeLorme mapshare website at the end of the day.
The decision is which plan?

  • Plan A: I could stop after just five more miles, once I fill in that gap.  There certainly is an argument for that. All the blue connect from Maine to Guatemala.  And I am so ready to stop!
  • Plan B: On the other hand I did say I would be traveling over 2,500 miles, not including the sailing portion.  So there is also an argument to keep going to Key West, which is about 248 miles further along.  That would get me over the 2,500 miles and then I could stop.
  • Plan C: I could stop when I get to the starting point of the sailing leg, and then do the Belize & Guatemala leg.  But that leg's not long enough to get me to 2,500 miles. 
  • Plan D: I could kayak to Key West, and then do the Belize & Guatemala leg as well, paddling over 2,780 miles total.  And then folks ask if I'll be kayaking back up to Maine. Maybe I'll never stop.
I wonder what I'll decide will best honor the grit and determination of the Safe Passage children and families?

Gratitude list:
  • Close up view of the green legs and bright yellow feet of a young snowy egret.
  • The jumping fish circle
  • A tail wind
  • The rain holding off until I finished kayaking
  • Chris!
Date: January 3, 2016                                                 Restart Paddle Day: 41
Start location: Delray Beach, FL                                  Launch time: 9:10 am
End location:  Pompano Beach                                     Land time: 12:50 pm
Average speed: 3.8 mph                                              Max Speed: 5.7 mph
Miles: 14.1
Total expedition miles with kayak and bike: 2252         Motor-portage miles: 404
Kayak Storage:  Easterlin Broward County Park
Host: Chris Percival


  1. A determined woman, as you continue to be postive. Whatever you decide, we are always behind you.

  2. I think you have honored the grit and determination of the Safe Passage kids and families many times over! I have never seen such tenacity, and have enjoyed and been inspired by your amazing journey. Thank you for doing this.
    Nancy Kane, fellow Mainer

  3. I really enjoy reading and also appreciate your work. Sea Kayak Explorer