Tag Archives: Key West

DIY: Two ounce cuben fiber tarp

I’m usually a pretty serious advocate of buying brand name gear when your life depends on it. Recently, however, I’ve needed things that are so specific for what I am doing that they simply aren’t marketable. Last year, I made gear to allow me to safely paddle a kayak from Key West to The Tortugas which required a sailcockpit cover, sea anchor, and outriggers among other things (click the links to see the designs). But recently, I’ve set my eye on a backpacking trip necessitating the lightest gear and have been seriously disappointed with the options currently on the market. I was very impressed with the light weight and affordability of my 7 ounce silnylon Integral Designs Siltarp 1 that I purchased last year. But I figured using a similar rectangle design with Cuben fiber instead of silnylon could drop that weight even further. I did some calculations and figured I could make a Cuben fiber tarp using ZPacks materials that weighed just 2 ounces. Continue reading DIY: Two ounce cuben fiber tarp

Overpowering fear: open ocean kayaking

Nothing in my life has ever sparked such overwhelming fear as sitting alone on a beach in the early, early morning, long before sunrise with intentions of paddling a kayak across an enormous body of water to a foreign island. There was lightning on the horizon, too distant and sparse to be a sure no go, but not clear enough to make me feel confident to paddle out. The wind was blowing from the north and would launch me down to Cay Sal on an open ocean kayaking voyage in under 12 hours. I would arrive there before dusk and set up camp on the uninhabited island in the Gulf of Mexico. I could see the tall palms swaying high overhead behind me and knew the wind coming from the other side of the island was strong. Within the first mile of paddling the wind would catch me and launch me faster and faster from the island until eventually I would not be able to paddle back. It was a commitment that gave me chills.

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Continue reading Overpowering fear: open ocean 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

Kayaking in the Gulf Stream in Force 5-6

Here is a video showing what it was like out there on my last attempt. Might try again tomorrow or the next day with the wind dropping and the weather clearing. May has been absolutely hellish weather so I gave it a shot and this is what happened. It was incredibly fun, just not conducive to the first paddle from The United States to The Bahamas.

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.