I fly to Barcelona on Monday, meet my boat on Wednesday, and begin paddling on Sunday. Training is over.
I arrived in America June 3rd, three moths ago. I've probably averaged hitting the water 4 times a week for about five hours an outing. I had hoped for six times a week for six hours, working my way up to ten as I got in better shape.
I have significantly improved my skills. I learned to roll, edge my boat, skull, brace. and most importantly, I can pee without pulling over. My forward stroke is also drastically improved.
I had intended for my diet to be healthy with lots of brown rice. In fact, I've mostly been eating hot dogs and ice cream. This worked out fine because I'm in the best shape of my life, and may never have an opportunity again to eat so many hot dogs and so much ice cream.
Beginning next Sunday I hope to paddle ten to twelve hours a day. I hope I'll be ready.
A lot of time has been spent getting my gear in order. I'm fairly pleased with most of what I ended up with. A few things I spent too much on or got the wrong kind, but for the most part, I got a lot of stuff wholesale and did pretty well for myself. I have during this time successfully tested all of my gear, except for my kayak.
Since I wasn't able to get any sponsors per se, I felt that the least I could do was to not advertise for people who weren't paying me. So I covered up the logos on most of my gear with my own logo, a stitch put together by me, my mom, and a friend of my mom's, Toby Eizik. Toby was instrumental providing both great artistic talent and the necessary machinery.
Toby implied to my mom that she was hoping to be mentioned in my blog, so while I typically try to avoid mentioning people out of concern for their privacy, I'm happy to make an exception for people who drop hints to my mother. Thank you for your help Toby.
This blog is also something I set out to do during my training time, as a test run for blogging about my trip This is my first effort at writing, but I have a head start on account of my degree in math which is in many ways similar to a degree in writing.* I'm pleased with some of the posts more then others. A measure of my success is that this blog has had over 1000 hits, and that seems like a lot to me.
During this time I have made friends in the NYC kayaking area. People who have helped me with my skills, and just to have a general sort of good time. Sunday night the Yonkers paddle club will be having a farewell paddle for me.
There have also been a number of setbacks.
Originally I had hoped to leave from Gibraltar August 15th. Why Gibraltar? Because it was a good distance for the semester I'm taking off and I could feel like I was crossing the Mediterranean.
A woman who was employed to clean my parents house once a week when I was a little boy recently got in touch with me via Facebook. Hearing about my trip she told me that she has a friend in Cadiz that I could use as a base of operations to launch from. I could stay there for a couple of days while I got organized in Spain and have my stuff shipped there before my arrival. This was an opportunity I could not turn down, so I changed my departure point to Cadiz, about a 100 miles on the Atlantic side of Gibraltar.
Time passed and I became more and more eager to get in touch with this person in Cadiz, to confirm everything and get an address that I could ship to. The woman who was helping me explained that she was busy and would get around to getting me in touch with the Cadiz friend soon. About a month and a half before my departure date, after I had bought tickets to fly, she informed me that her friend could no longer help me out. In the same email she told me that I was impatient for trying to get in touch with this person myself.
Towards the end of July, about two and a half weeks before my departure date I got word from Epic that the kayak would be delayed three weeks on account of troubles with shipping. So I changed my flight for no small fee, to spend more time with family, and in an environment that was good for my training.
Just a few days ago I got another email from Epic. The kayak would be further delayed. If I wanted, I could start only a few days late in Barcelona. If I insisted on starting in Cadiz, I would have to wait even longer.
The good news is that my contact at Epic is being helpful in every way that he can and is making some of the logistical work much easier for me.
I changed my ticket again. I'll be flying to Barcelona on Monday, which I would have been in around now anyways had I not been delayed. I'm no longer going to be attempting to cross the Mediterranean because I'm skipping the first few hundred miles. But I'm starting on Monday, and I'll still be kayaking from Spain to Israel, I hope.
* editor's note: It's not.