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
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.
Here is the link to the page where you can follow me through live tracking for my adventures over the next three months. First up, a kayak trip to the Bahamas! Just waiting for the right weather at this point.
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”
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!
Frederic Fenger published these words in his book, “Alone in the Caribbean”, after his 1911 crossing of the Lesser Antilles in a sailing canoe.
“Crab pas mache, il pas gras ; il mache trop, et il tombe dans chodier.”
“If a crab don’t walk, he don’t get fat ;
If he walk too much, he gets in a pot.”
— From the Creole.
IS IT in the nature of all of us, or is it just my own peculiar make-up which brings, when the wind blows, that queer feeling, mingled longing and dread? A thousand invisible fingers seem to be pulling me, trying to draw me away from the four walls where I have every comfort, into the open where I shall have to use my wits and my strength to fool the sea in its treacherous moods, to take advantage of fair winds and to fight when I am fairly caught — for a man is a fool to think he can conquer nature. It had been a long time since I had felt the weatherglow on my face, a feeling akin to the numb forehead in the first touch of inebriety. The lure was coming back to me. It was the lure of islands and my thoughts had gone back to a certain room in school where as a boy I used to muse over a huge relief map of the bottom of the North Atlantic. No doubt my time had been better spent on the recitation that was going on. Continue reading The weatherglow
I joke that for a trip to become an adventure you must be absolutely regretfully miserable for some amount of time. It is not necessarily designed into the plan, but is very likely unavoidable. I am planning my next great adventure, one that will take me from the civilized world to a marine habitat for several months. My vessel is a 2006 NDK Explorer, british racing green. The proposed route, follow the Antilles from Key West to Puerto Rico. There are stretches that will take me out of sight of land for an entire day, left only with the company of the flying fish, dorados, and sharks that will accompany me and likely occasionally provide me with a meal. I’m outfitting my boat as a home, with electric bilge pump, sleeping pad inside the cockpit, fresh water supply spitting from the rear hatch, cockpit cover to lock down and survive even the worst storms, and a small sail for the favorable breezes. It is not a suicide mission, it is a vacation in fact. In may seem crazy but in fact it is a deviation from my usual course of venturing into snow-covered sub-zero forests. I will have my challenges, most definitely, but they will be winds and wildlife, baking heat and water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.
I am using a lot of ideas from the greatest adventurers, Ed Gillet and Andrew McAuley most notably. Gillet paddled from California to Hawaii while McAuley paddled across the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand, both in production kayaks. My adventure will be hugging land and will be much different from their trips into vast open water. But mine will carry the risks of Caribbean storms and entire days out to sea. I have obtained most of my knowledge from sailors, however, seeing as they are the most often to make trips like this.
This is a documentary on Andrew McAuley’s adventure. Take note of his kayak modifications, especially the cockpit dome, Casper. But most importantly, try to understand Andrew, to see where he was coming from. Please try to not be quick to judge him and instead try to imagine his life, how exciting it must have been and understand that there are many ways to live a life, and maybe one where we don’t fear death isn’t so criminal.
Full documentary: http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/ifhx2EQEubk