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, January 27, 2016

Paddle Day 50-137: Glorious Underwater Creatures and Fascinating Live-aboards

What was I seeing on the bottom?
The highlights of the day's paddle were the sea life at the beginning and end.  First was a sea bottom covered with strange creatures.  My next excitement was being flagged down by a live-aboard sailer for a fascinating talk.  Finally, at the end of the day, we were welcomed into the gregarious world of the folks who anchor offshore and use unofficial dinghy landings for their frugal lifestyle.

Right outside the boat ramp I noticed such odd shapes on the sea bottom that I turned around and tried to capture them with my underwater camera.  Only when I landed at the end of the day was I able to look them up on Wikopedia to find out I had seen Cassiopea jellyfish.  Their photos were better than mine for these upside down jellyfish that hang out on the bottom around mangroves.
image from Wikipedia
Out in the harbor of the marina, I was hailed by a sailor as I passed his boat.  Turns out he is writing a cruising guide for the Florida Keys,  and had lots of great advice about upcoming areas.  He even emailed me the draft pdf of his guide to help me out.  Check for his book when it is published, as it appears to be a great guide, and is especially strong on the local culture and what's so special about this area.
Kevin Garthwaite giving me advice
I was in relatively shallow water a lot of the day, which was great fun, as I peered down into the clear waters, or just coasted along.
Happy in the shallows
As I neared my take-out point, I went through an anchorage with lots of live-aboard boats, including
one with Grouchy Turtle.com written on it's side.  So I had to check that out on the internet.  One of his latest posts was about it being too windy to paddle so he rode his bike instead.  It was right along the route I had ridden on a windy day, but he has better pictures.

Take out was at an informal dingy beach used by the many live aboard boats anchored in the bay.  A collection of scruffy dinghies and beater bikes at a tiny beach at the end of a road made a great place to land.
Dinghys at the landing, bikes along the fence
The sailor arriving before me in an inflatable dinghy was having problems trying to turn it over.  Chris's offer of help was declined, but when I offered my hand pump, he accepted and spent over ten minutes pumping out a ton of water.  We talked as he pumped.   I was glad that my pump finally saw some use after having carried along for over 2,300 miles.  But it's good I haven't needed it since it means I haven't dumped yet!

The sailer recognized my kayak as a Chesapeake Light Craft, and told me of his love affair with a n
Nordkapp.   The conversation moved on to his fifteen years of living aboard his sailboat.  He said he has reached his breaking point and now wants to just walk away from it all.

All the while this conversation was going on, three artists were set up to paint pictures of the scenic dinghies.  At least I hope it was the dinghies and not the wildlife (us) they were there to paint.
One of the painters capturing the scene
Next along as I was unloading the kayak were a couple of guys (Joe and Mike) checking on their dinghies after being away for a week.  One of their big, heavy fiberglass boats with electric trolling motors had been moved high onto the beach.  We all (except the artists) gave them a hand carrying it down to the water.  They shared their local knowledge with us - where to get cheap beers at happy hour, where to use a resorts hot tub for free and the location of the local library with a great beach and wifi.  I am fascinated by the live-aboard life and the fascinating characters who make this their life.

Chris and I went for lunch at one of the restaurants they mentioned, and were so happy when Joe and Mike came over and joined us at our table.  Soon the table talk turned to Guatemala and Belize and work with non-profits.  Joe is a soil expert concentrating on climate change issues.

Gratitude List:
  1. Cassiopea jellyfish
  2. Talking with cruising guide author
  3. The informal dingy beach
  4. Food on the dock with the live-aboards
  5. The peace of the shallows
Date: January 20, 2016                                               Restart Paddle Day: 50     Paddle Day:137
Start location: Tavernier, FL                                       Launch time: 11:00 AM
End location:  Islamorada                                            Land time: 2:30 PM
Average speed: 3.5 mph                                             Max Speed:  5.5 mph
Miles: 11.5
Total expedition miles with kayak and bike: 2402        Motor-portage miles: 404
Kayak Storage: Knight's Key Resort and Marina
Host: Chris Percival

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