Category Archives: Kayaking

Key West to Tortugas, Part 3

My boat glided up onto the beach as I popped open my spray skirt. The dense smell of sweat and urine assaulted my nostrils. I slipped out of the boat and fell into the water, tried to stand, and contented myself with wading. I waded in the water for minutes, looking up on the island at the campers. Occasionally one would walk by and give me a look of total confusion, but the refugee Cubans arriving moments before distracted them from my arrival, at least long enough for me to learn how to walk again. Continue reading Key West to Tortugas, Part 3

Key West to Dry Tortugas kayaking, Part 2

I was on the east side of the Marquesas so I had a few miles before I even reached open water. I paddled through the center of the circle of islands all the way to the west side where I saw three boats anchored in the lee of the island. In the flats I could see a couple fins swaying to-and-fro. I knew what they were but paddled up to get a closer look. A very large 7-8 foot nurse shark was sifting through the murk to find crustaceans. I startled him as he startled me and I continued on my trip. I soon was out into open water and felt the gusts pick up on my back. It would be a tailwind ride the entire way, making for a questionable return in the coming days.10380547_10204212389648781_7354232033001364636_o

Continue reading Key West to Dry Tortugas kayaking, Part 2

Key West to Tortugas, Part 1

It’s hard to understand the months of preparation from any other vantage than my own. They think I just though of the idea of an open ocean paddle this morning, and they think I am crazy.

He asked me how far I was going to be paddling out and I responded saying I was headed for the Tortugas. “Do you know how far that is?” he asked with a concerned expression on his face.

I laughed and said “yes, yes I do”. It is a common silly question in a long list of them that I have recently become accustomed to. Minutes later, as I prepped my boat on Higgs Beach in Key West to set off for my open ocean voyage in a standard kayak, another man walked up and asked me if I was training for something.

“Actually, I was training for what I’m about to do right now,” I responded. Continue reading Key West to Tortugas, Part 1

The intersection

One rainy day in college, just before Thanksgiving, I stood out on the side of 311 near Roanoke with my thumb out. I had been threw hell the past few days but still was ecstatic. I was excited for my warm cozy bed, a large PK’s pesto pizza, and a good Pixar movie. But I was most thrilled about what I had just done, the grueling solo backpacking adventure I would remember forever. Hour after hour people sped by me without even the slightest hesitation. And eventually one man took the time to roll down his window, slow down, and flick me off. I was baffled by his judgement. Initially I thought, no I’m not one of them but then wondered, one of who? He could know nothing about me from his drive by and from his attitude, never would.

Continue reading The intersection

Show time

“The worst part of an expedition was over when the preparation was finished.” -Robert Falcon Scott, The Worst Journey in the World.

It’s showtime. Shoving off from Key West at around 4 AM tomorrow. Follow me through live tracking on my Spot Shared Page. I am looking to paddle a kayak from The United States to The Bahamas. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I get overwhelmed at times about the proposition. But I know it will be a blast, an adventure full of suffering and wonder, absolute awe and absolute agony. To see the world from the vantage that I do is a privilege and one that I won’t walk away from easily.

Looks like I’ll have NNW winds starting at 10 knots and rising to 20 knots by the end of the day. Slight risk of thunderstorms early. Seas 2-4 feet and building to 6-9 feet by the night. Big, big waves. Should make for a fast and exciting ride to Cay Sal Bank.

Force 5-6

Big, big waves out in the Atlantic right now. Not conducive for fast kayaking, which I certainly need in order to make a 90 mile open water crossing. I went out today for 2.5 hours in a force 5-6 and got had an absolute blast. Towering, towering waves. Fun going downwind, brutal coming back. Once again the boat handles great but the limiting factor is going to be my endurance in such brutal conditions. I’ve been checking the weather every few hours just hoping I’ll get favorable conditions soon. It looks like we’re getting east winds for the next four days until it lines up perfectly with 10 knots coming from the northwest on Thursday. It doesn’t get much better than that but I wouldn’t mind doing without the isolated t-storm warning. Strong chance of dealing with a squall along the way. Should make for some exciting times- deploy sea anchor and outriggers and hang tight till the weather calms down. Continue reading Force 5-6

Let the adventures begin

I have always loved the water. I grew up in it. I spent every summer at the beach. I would stay out in the waves for hours, not returning for lunch or even a sip of water. My family would go back to the house and I would stay. And with my last day of work today, I have an opportunity to return to the water.

I used to challenge my friends to contests, who was willing to swim the furthest, the deepest, stressing the moms out beyond imagination. I always won, fearless of the thought of being so far from shore, enticed by the thrill of the diminishing horizon. I would swim as far as I could dive and still reach the bottom in one breath. I would surface with a fistful of sand and swim further out, eventually giving up in the frigid deep water, but still tempted by the horizon. Continue reading Let the adventures begin

Kayak sponsons, kayak outriggers, and self-righting

Recently I have been studying the exploits of some incredible adventurers, specifically solo explorers in small water craft crossing bodies of water that regularly sink much larger vessels. The designs and the different methods of accomplishing similar goals are so vastly different that I find myself absolutely fascinated and curious as to what is the absolute best method.

The reason this is all of interest to me is because I am also exploring the possibility of embarking on one of these long distance adventures, one that I can only find record of one other person attempting, albeit with a companion and in a canoe. This man, Verlen Kruger, paddled from Florida to Venezuela, and that is exactly what I hope to do. Verlen completed the trip with assistance for long open ocean crossings, something I cannot expect nor intend to receive.

Continue reading Kayak sponsons, kayak outriggers, and self-righting