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.