I am currently living in Norfolk, Virginia, a place I used to consider the armpit of Virginia but I’ve grown to love over the past year. Its residents are passionate and deeply care about Hampton Roads and their love for their home is incredibly contagious. I recently moved into an apartment with an incredible view overlooking the Elizabeth River and truly consider it my home. For someone who really likes being settled, the past few years have been a little disorienting for me. I’ve moved a lot, lived out of my car for several months, and been temporarily without a home several times. So it’s really nice to have a place to call my own and get settled in.
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
“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.
Trying to put this whole trip together for a perfect run is seeming absolutely impossible. I am going to need to settle in some way, but in just what way I am unsure. The reason this trip is so tricky, and part of the reason it is so appealing is that a oceanic river, the gulf stream, runs directly through the middle of it. Currents from the Atlantic pump into the Gulf of Mexico, pump around for a bit and then swoop south and race by the keys on their way by and up the coast of the United States. At its fastest this current moves at four knots, a speed that is felt by all vessels, big and small. My trip is especially tricky with a small target and only human power and a little bit of wind.
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
The setup I decided on for the outriggers is similar to Andrew McAuley’s rig for his Tasman Sea crossing. I used ram ball and socket mounts, size 1.5 inch ball on the deck on either side. I used giant 1.5 inch washers on the underside but I still think I need to reinforce the hull with some fiberglass in that area. The benefits of this design is its flexibility and convenience. It’s weakness is the stress on the hull and weight. I considered simply strapping the extra paddle to deck but realized that would be neither flexible, resilient, nor convenient. However, the load would be distributed across the hull whereas the load for the ball and socket setup is on the hull in just a 2.5 inch diameter circle. Another fault of this system is that the outrigger can slip over the ball, a problem I imagine worsens in the water. Still a work in progress but I’ll figure it out.
I added some deck rigging for a kayak sea anchor and towline. I used 80 feet of 2.8mm Spyderline. I took the line all the way from the bow to the stern using Ronstan’s sheaveless blocks at either end. The reason I did this is so that when say I have the sea anchor deployed, the tension runs through the bow block all the way to the stern and then to the deck cleat on the right side of the cockpit. What this essentially does is lower the force on the deck cleat by half. The deck cleat is the most fragile component of the whole system and the one that would cause the biggest problem if it breaks (a hole in the boat). It also allows me to easily deploy and retract both a sea anchor and towline from the same rope. A sea anchor is used in heavy winds to slow the boats progress by acting as a parachute in the water and to orient the bow into the wind where the boat is least likely to capsize.
My homemade kayak sail is complete and I just want to thank my wonderful aunt for all her help with it! It looks absolutely beautiful. I have yet to take it for a test run but with all the forethought, I am certain it will sail wonderfully. In the last three days I also added the outriggers and some deck rigging and cleats for the sea anchor/tow rope. I will post about them in the next couple days!