Upon awaking around 6:30 AM, I found Katie floating in the high tide. There was not much beach to work with, and fortunately I tied her off. The bugs seemed happy to see me – they certainly were scrambling around a lot. I decided with the promising good
weather (blue skies, calm NW wind) that I would leave around 8:30, so just ate
a Cliff bar and packed up. I was making good time, and decided to stop
for a rest around 9:30 at a nice beach just below Camp Tockwogh, a YMCA camp
where I spent some time with Robert (my son) in Indian Guides. I took off
the life vest and ate some gorp, drank some water, then got ready to shove off.
Waves were rocking Katie, so I set her up to get in, and paddled off,
excited about how this day was unfolding. I followed my new practice of
paddling around the coves, having little confidence to go directly across the
mouths, although the water was very quiet. I passed a beautiful area
called Worton Creek and found the area around Stavley Pond equally pretty.
I finally arrived tired but happy at Great Oak Marina on Fairlee Creek,
also a very pretty spot. I had paddled 12 and 1/2 miles, and I had a
whole afternoon yet to go. I decided to stop and see if there was any hot
food available. An old man told me that the restaurant was closed, but
the store was open. Great! I reached down to get my wallet out of
the vest, and – no vest. I frantically looked around hoping against hope
that the vest would be lying around Katie, but it was nowhere to be found.
Can I proceed without the vest – maybe get another one. But the
vest had my wallet, and my cell phone, two critical things I needed for this
trip. I had the vest on when I left in the morning, because I sent Grace
a message saying that I had a good night while sitting in the kayak as I was setting
off, so it must have been at the mid morning stop. I groaned when I
realized that was at least 6 to 7 miles back where I came from. After
giving it some thought about alternatives, I realized I did not have a choice.
I could not hire a boat – had no money or identification. It was an
incredibly stupid thing to have done, and I would have to pay the consequences.
The favorable prospects for this day were gone – I would instead spend
the time going back and hopefully finding it. There are so many beaches
that look alike. What a rookie mistake!
I arrived two hours later having aggressively crossed two large bays to reach
the point where I thought I had stopped. No vest in sight. I moved
north, but that did not result in anything. Then I reversed course and
proceeded east, and there, 100 yards from where I had first looked, the vest
was lying on the large deadfall right were I had left it almost 5 hours
earlier. Waves of relief flowed over me. I ran up to it and gave it
a real hug, so happy to be reunited with it. I looked up to the heavens,
and gave thanks to my guardian angles, and anyone else that was listening!
I returned to the kayak and proceeded towards the two bays and other
intervening shorelines, not sure how long my back would hold out. As I
paddled through the quiet water as the afternoon grew older, my thoughts
continued to dwell on these powerful lessons I was being taught.
Hopefully, these kinds of mistakes will not be repeated. It is a
classic case of haste makes waste. This is one mistake I do not want to
repeat over the rest of this trip. My back was beginning to really
complain, but I wanted to make up for the distance lost, so every hour I
stopped and sat in the water, cooling off. That seemed to help. As
I got closer to the marina, I became more and more determined to get there, and
I did at 6:15 PM. I was one very exhausted kayaker. The folks at
the marina told me to camp on some land across the Fairlee, and I did so
quickly. Camp was set up in a short time, when a fisherman came over to
chat. Pete was fishing and we shared our stories. He suggested that
I build a bonfire, which was what everyone else did on the beach there, and I
went to get some small wood that I could find. The big pieces had
already been consumed in many such fires the previous holiday weekend.
When I came back from getting my head light, as it was now getting dark,
Pete was gone, but he had left a nice stack of wood for my fire. As I lay
back, basking in the glow of the fire, and watching the sky burn bright in day
glow orange and red, I again thought about how much effort had been spent on a
very valuable lesson. I decided to rate the day a 2. It took
me 28 miles to go 14 miles, and close to the 13 miles I had done the day before.
These net daily distances covered are well below my expectations –
something else to worry about.
What an encouraging blog. What drama we can experience in just one day. My goodness, just when you thought you had it made for the day, here comes the monkey wrench. Thank God that your prayers were answered and you located your vest, wallet and phone. Look at the stamina you demonstrated and the test that was placed upon your body, mind and boat. Yet, in the end, all turned out well, you learned lessons about yourself and your boat and precautions to take (make a list and check it twice – mentally, at least) when sailing solo. And, who knows, you may have even spoken with God through an angel who left you a stack of firewood. As you continue your journey, look back on these times to reassure yourself of God’s provision in your life. God bless you as you paddle-on. P.S. Don’t worry about time schedules. Remember, you’re retired. You’re on God’s time schedule. Just press-on and enjoy your trip.