I began today, again, cutting knots out of Moe's line and retying him. I made breakfast, packed up my stuff, and was on my way just before sunrise. Rather than head out to sea I went upriver, inland.
I felt a tug on Moe's line. This was the first tug I ever felt, and, as it turned out, the last. I pulled Moe in to find that he had picked up some grasses from the bottom of the river.
“You're mocking me, aren't you?”
“You know Mo, you're gonna have to start catching some fish. Otherwise, you're just a drag.” I was too hard on him.
I got to a bridge, and underneath it there was a sign “maximum speed 5 knots” (42.805752,3.03066). In front of the sign there was a fence through the water. The inland water way had been closed at this end. I pulled over, climbed up on the rocks, took my boat out of the water and got back in on the other side. It was a pain in the neck, but I wanted to paddle inland.
The view of the lake and the birds and the mountains was nice. I had assumed in planning this trip that most of my views would be like the New Jersey coast. I am delighted to have been wrong. This area, at least, features occasional villages dotting a vast empty land. Grasses, hills, trees, and nothing more make up most of the scenery. Such was the view inland from the lake. Between the lake and the sea was a tourist town.
My chart was barely adequate, but I managed to find my way. There were lots of canals into the south Florida-like neighborhood to my right that were not marked on it. Still, I managed with some trepidation. (Incidentally, the water level is much lower then it was when the Google maps pictures were taken. There are lots of islands that are neither on Gmaps or on my chart.) So I asked a fisherman if I had the right way. He told me no and sent me climbing over a sand bar with my boat. I paddled for a ways on the other side, until I was convinced that I was going the right way the first time, turned around, climbed back over the sand bar, and was back on my original correct path.
That is, until I got to a dead end (42.838134,3.035327). I saw a man walking his dog on the street above and called out to him. He told me that I would need to go over the road to get back out the the sea. The road was not on my chart.
As I began to try to get my boat up on the road I dropped it on a rock. That was bad. I think the boat was OK, but I still haven't done a good check. Another man walking his dog saw me and offered to help. I gratefully accepted.
The man's dog was medium sized white curly haired dog that looked as though it was bred to live on a pillow.
The man to his dog (translated from French) "Sit.”
The dog (also translated) "Whatever.”
The man said again “Sit.”
The dog sat and the man put down the leash to help me with the boat. The dog got up to come take a closer look. The man said to his dog “Sit.”
And the dog responded “Whatever.”
We crossed the road and put the boat in on the other side. We had to stop twice so that the man could try to do something with his dog.
I only had to climb over one more obstacle before I was back at sea. (42.85588,3.032709)
On my way out I managed to ride the wake of a sailboat for a while. I moved fast. The boat, which I struggled to stay just a meter or so behind, was small and manned by two sailors who spoke no English. I don't know if it seemed odd to them that there was this kayaker paddling just behind them for as long as he could. The sailors and I made a couple unsuccessful attempts at conversation. Once they were out on the open sea I could no longer keep up.
Paddling on the open sea I put Moe back in the water, having taken him out in contempt. Since the first episode he had twice more picked up reeds from the bottom, and not even hinted that he might like to pick up a fish or two.
As my day approached its end I paddled along a sandy expanse that was much more then just a beach. It went way back, it's smooth surface was broken occasionally by a stream snaking it's way out to the sea. One giant piece of driftwood, half the trunk of a once great tree, stood above and surveyed it all. Behind the sandy plane the ground rose up sharply into the grassy hills with a small wood here and there giving a sense of space. Atop the ridges were lines of windmills turning each to its own beat.
Along this place, the water was shallow and the waves broke far out and rolled all the way in. It was when I got hit by a particularly big one, and pushed some five meters closer to the shore, that Moe left me.
I had been to hard on him. So he left me. Like he did everything in our time together, without a word. He was gone and my line was slack.
Port La Nouvelle is weird. Two parallel seawalls go way out from the beach to mark its entrance. As I paddled up the corridor, I could make out the huge buildings of industry in the distance. Giant silos along the water, this was no leisure marina. If there were sailboats at all I couldn't make them out. I saw a sign for the captains office and I pulled over.
In my spray skirt and splash top I walked into the office ready for another rejection. I explained to the man at the desk.
“You kayaked from Barcelona?” He asked me.
“Where's your boat?”
I took him to see my boat, just outside his office.
He went to get the captain and asked me to wait outside since I was dripping wet and had already left a puddle on his floor.
As he spoke to the captain in French the captain shook his head and I was sure things were not looking good for me.
The guy from the front desk, Really Awesome Nice Dude (Randy), and the captain, were extremely helpful. The captain told me I could leave my boat in his back yard because his house was on the water. Would I like to shower? I would. Fantastic.
Randy: “You're crazy, aren't you.”
“A little.” I told him.
“We were crazy too once.”
They helped me get my boat off of the water. Randy asked me if he could give me a lift to anywhere in town. I said no thank you, but directions for some errands would be helpful. He was only too happy to oblige.
Was I sure he couldn't give me a ride? Yes, I was sure. I explained to him that one of the purposes of my trip was to encourage people to drive less and use human powered transportation more. Say no more, he understood.
Tonight I sleep on the beach, knowing my stuff is well looked after and not quite as stinky as I usually am. Thank you Randy and Marina Captain for your kindness. While your crazy days may be behind you, I hope you continue to find good in the craziness of others.