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.
Andrew McAuley suggested that sea kayaking was the new mountaineering. For him it was, and it is luring me in too. But for some reason it isn’t drawing the crowds that a new frontier maybe should. It is baffling how many untouched adventures exist on the open water. But even many serious mountaineers draw the line at an open ocean crossing. 95% of the ocean has yet to be explored and until recently, more was known about the surface of the moon. The water turns people away and rightfully so. It has been hundreds of millions of years since we were residents of an aquatic environment. It is foreign to us, unstable. We are not the top of the food chain in the ocean. In fact, we are so outnumbered that an open ocean swimmer is as easy of a meal as a pork tenderloin on your dinner plate. We can only be visitors to the ocean, and that humility is something foreign to the designed environments. Continue reading “A leap of logic”