Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Goop of Kindness

This morning I woke up in a small dirty back room on a tiny tourist island (43.128077,5.750238). I loaded up my boat and set out just as the old man who helped me the night before paddled up to the island in his own kayak. He's a kayak commuter.

I had seen the day before that today would have a 30 km/hr wind against me, slowing me tremendously, but nothing I couldn't handle.

I asked the man for a weather update as he was asking me about my gear. He didn't speak a word of English. I understood from him that it would rain and there would be an eastern wind. There was a misunderstanding about the force of the wind. On the water, I quickly realized that the wind was stronger then what he told me, or at least, what I thought he told me.

I could paddle to the captains office, and take a look at the weather, but that would be a delay. 'Dov', I told myself, 'A responsible paddler always checks the weather, every day.'

My answer was easy, 'Ha, Shows how much you know! I'm not a responsible paddler.'

Despite the inherent logic in my point, it somehow failed to convince me. 'Besides, I did check the weather. I asked the old man.'

'Who may, or may not have been talking about the same thing you were. And this is no small wind.' I wasn't paddling into anything dangerous yet, but it was something.

So I went to the captain’s office and checked the weather. There would be force nine winds in the afternoon. For those of you who are not familiar with the Beaufort Scale, a wind force rating of nine usually comes with the following description “Heavy winds creating three meter or more waves and frequent white caps. Sails should not be taken down on smaller boats and on land, babies should be stapled down to keep them from blowing away.”

There would be no paddling today. I asked if I could leave my boat in the port overnight. No problem. I got back in the boat to work on my rolls for a while, knowing that as soon as I was done a warm shower awaited me in the port’s shower house. I had been given the entry code by the wonderful receptionist.

I paddled around the port at a good clip. When I was done a heavyset, mostly bald, flannel clad elderly mariner was waiting for me. “Would you sleep in my boat this night?” He asked. I was really dizzy from all the rolling. I had water in my ears and was still blinking the salt out of my eyes. I was standing, but barely. And the news was too good to be true.

“What?” I asked. He thought his English wasn't good enough and didn't know how to ask any other way.

“You'll have to excuse me a moment, I'm a bit dizzy.” The world slowly began to hold onto itself and the water drained out of one of my ears. In another moment I was ready and got him to try again. Yes, it was good. He invited me to stay in his rather large sailboat.

I paddled around and met him there. With two large hulls and the center of the boat between them, I got my own tiny room and an opportunity to use the boat’s shower.

Later in the day he got a friend of his to lend me some goop to fix the chips in my boat's hull. The first layer is drying now and I'll put on another layer tomorrow.

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