Day 36 Sunday October 14 A Reach to Wrightsville Beach


Monday, October 15, 2012 5:45 PM

Sunday arrived bright and cool.  I planned on leaving Surf City after a Baptist Church service, as that church was the only one I could find in that part of the city.  I got to the marina at around 11:15 AM, but did not see Ray.  He came after I called to open up the shed so that I could get my things.  He then left, telling me to be careful around Cape Fear River, especially about timing my passing through with an ebb tide.  This is to avoid major standing waves that occur when an incoming tidal current collides with the strong down river current.  He recommended that I speak to someone at one of the upcoming marinas either in Wrightsville Beach, or closer to Carolina Beach near where Snow Cut takes you out to the river.  Before he left, we picked up Katie and dropped her in the water, and I secured her to the dock.  I was a little concerned about how I would get into the kayak without someone there to hold her steady. But then I had the idea to clip one end of each of my two lines to the two side black grab lines that go around the kayak, and then tie both of them tightly to one of the cleats on the dock.  This should prevent the kayak from turning over as I got in.  Anyway, it took some time to pack up the kayak in the water, but finally, it was time to try to get in.  I had visions of me turning over and having to swim to the rocks on the outside of the marina, but the idea worked brilliantly.  I was off at 12:30 PM.
As the wind was at my back (yeah!), and the tidal current moving southwest, in my direction, I had a very pleasant paddle, and the miles passed by quickly.  I had hoped to get in around 10 to 12 miles that afternoon, but with these conditions, I gave increasing thought to trying to get all the way to Wrightsville Beach, 22 miles away.  However, after around 10 miles, the tide changed, and the wind shifted, and very quickly, the conditions deteriorated and I began to lose hope that I could attain that goal.  I continued to look for good camping sites, and they were few and far behind.  To the right, along the mainland facing the bays, there were wall to wall houses, many quite grand, and on the left there were many small inside barrier islands with small twisted trees or large bushes, that offered little prospect for holding up my hanging tent.  At 3:45, I saw a workable place on the mainland side, but for whatever reason, perhaps I did not want to lose too much valuable paddling time, I decided to pass up on that alternative and continue.  As the afternoon progressed, I really started getting worried.  I stopped at a couple of the islands to check them out, and my worst fears were confirmed, plus they were very buggy.  My back started letting me know that it was time to find a place, and get off the water.  I reminded myself that I should trust in the Lord, and let him find the place he had in mind for me that night.  I saw that I was only 4 miles away from Wrightsville Beach, so I resigned myself to go into a marina in the city, and be forced to find a motel room.  This was frustrating to me, as it was tomorrow night when the large front was due to hit our area, and that was the night I should find someplace to hide from the wet and windy storms.  I also wondered when I would be invited into someone’s home.  But there were few opportunities for that to happen, as most of the docks that I pass are empty of any persons.
As I approached the city, I crossed over to the mainland side,  and continued fighting the very strong tidal current.  As I passed one of the last docks before the fixed bridge, I heard a man’s voice call out, and I responded without much thought that I was heading to Florida.  I heard him say something else, and something inside me made me turn back to see what he wanted.  He was high up on the dock, with someone else, and I let the tide take me back to within earshot.  The man wanted to know about my cart on the back of Katie.  I briefly explained, then said that this was my second great outdoor adventure, and when I told him what the first one was, he became quite excited, and suggested that I stay with them for the evening, putting my kayak next to one of the other boats tied up at the dock.

What happened next was like a beautiful dream unfolding before my eyes.  Bill introduced his wife Gail, who has recently retired, and suggested that I take what I needed for the evening (clothes, maps, etc.) and we would go across the road to his 1926 house, with a nice front porch.   There, Bill who is 69 produced a glass of wine for me (the first in 4 weeks) and Gail brought out some cheese and crackers, and we began to share our stories.  The more I talked, the more interested they were in what I was doing, and why.  Bill ordered pizza (“Is that ok with you, Fal?)” – “Yes!”.  Bill showed me where I could take a quick shower and change into clean clothes, and by the time I returned downstairs, we moved into the living room to have more wine and have our supper.  I offered to pay for the pizza, but they insisted that I was their guest for the night.  Bill has been a dentist all his life, now working 4 days a week while his partner and son take on more of the responsibility of running the practice, but his passion is sculpture, and he took me down to “Willy’s world” in the basement, where there were several excellent clay busts of friends and others, several of which had been cast in bronze, and other pieces including one that was riveting – a scene from the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1862 that devastated white and black families.  Bill also pulled out an original  manuscript written by a forebear who walked across the United States over 150 years ago, that he had not looked at in many years.  That generated a great conversation about possibilities to bring that story to light.  All in all, a truly remarkable evening.  As I fell asleep in the clean bed, I thanked the Lord for having so well provided for me that evening.  What a blessing to have been pulled out of the water at that very moment when everything looked so lost.  And for Bill and Gail, new additions to my small but growing list of angels, an equally remarkable evening, as reflected in the email they sent to me today, in part… “Much enjoyed your stay with us in Wrightsville!  Gail and I agree; you are definitely the most interesting creature we’ve ever pulled out of the waterway!”
It is days like this that make this journey so special, and worth the massive amount of effort, loneliness, worry and pain.  And it reminds me that the spiritual component is very much alive and well, where the thought that comes to mind frequently is “Watch what happens, and believe in me”.
I rated this day a 5 for obvious reasons, with 22 miles paddled.  A very good start on the week with the goal to reach Myrtle Beach in South Carolina by the weekend.
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