Friday, November 12, 2010

Rocket Man

I took the train from Perpignan to Sete. On the way, I began organizing my stuff. Putting things into dry bags and getting batteries into equipment. I tested my radio. And before I was even remotely done, I had arrived in Sete. I was unable to get the batteries into my headlamp.

In Sete I began the walk through the port area to my kayak. I made my way into a marine store. Now that I had enough dry bags, I picked up some flares and orange smoke cans I could use in an emergency.

I talked to the friendly guy running the store and got him to help me with the headlamp. At first he was as confounded as I was, but then hesitantly began unscrewing the screws in the back. It all worked out and we got the batteries in.

I continued on to my boat, grabbing a baguette dinner that was taken with Nutella that had just been returned to me. I got to my boat, made camp nearby, and slept.

Day 15:

In the morning I was up early and went back to organizing my gear. I fastened lights to the front, red-green, and back, white, of my boat. I set up the compasses. I tied up my new lure, organized my things into dry-bags, and finally donned my brand new wetsuit.

I had a grab dry bag with me in my cockpit containing emergency gear. The bag has a rope with a loop and a quick clip tied to it so that if something were to go wrong at sea I could grab the bag and attach it to myself.

You may have, at this time, a couple of questions, so I'll try to nip them in the bud.

Q: Dov, is it true that you look like a super hero in your wet suit?
A: Yes.
Q: Is that a rocket between your legs?
A: What kind of sick weirdo did your mother raise? As it happens, I do keep my rocket flares  between my legs. Grow up.

By 11:00 I was on the water. The first thing I did was to play. All of my things were in dry bags, if water got in my boat my computer would not be at risk. I was wearing a wet suit, and a splash top above that, I would not get cold. I rolled and rolled my boat. I did extended skulls. A fish returned to water, I had a good time. My cockpit took on a bit of water since I still had a lousy spray skirt, but nothing I couldn't pump out.

I was in a small bay of sorts with beach on three sides. I got out for a moment to admire the view, by which I mean, use nature’s facilities, and when I turned around my boat had begun floating off, perhaps on a whim. My first thought was to swim after it, but it wasn't going far, only to the other side of the bay, a practical joke between good friends. I walked around as somebody on the other side got a handle on it for me.

“Nice boat.” He said.

“Thanks, do you kayak?”

“Only on rivers.” We talked some more and then I was saddled up and going away. I had a thought, I asked a woman on the beach to take my picture with my camera. At first she didn't understand me, but eventually figured out what I wanted and accepted the mission. Except my camera didn't work and the woman left quickly. I was suddenly a social pariah.

The new battery hadn't fixed my camera after all. Since then the problem has gotten worse, it no longer turns on, even when fully charged. Above are the last pictures you may see for a while.

I paddled northeast along the coast. It was a holiday so there were lots of people on the beaches, including for a while some drummers that gave a rhythm to my paddling.

My new seat and leg peg positions, accommodating my not very good spray skirt, made for my most ergonomic ride yet. With my new clothing it was my most comfortable in a few weeks. Whenever I would begin to overheat, I would roll and be nice and cool again. I had a great day.

As the sun set and I pulled into a harbor near Montpellier, a sailboat passed me and the French people on board cheered to see a kayaker pulling into the harbor. It was too late in the day for me to roll; I would be cold as soon as I stopped paddling, even in my suit. Showing off, I rolled for them.

I walked into the marina office to ask for permission to leave my boat there. In full kayaking regalia, all of the pretty young ladies in the office stopped their group chat and stared at me. My ego wouldn't let me take it as anything other then a compliment.

I parked my boat next to a racing sailboat. The fellow on the deck, David, was staying on his boat for the weekend and was happy to talk to me. He showed me to a Wi-Fi cafe and we spoke of canals that might be short cuts, the weather, places I had seen, sailboat racing (he's a racer), and other sea people stuff. He treated me to my hot chocolate and offered to let me stay in his boat and out of the rain for the night.

I had already accepted another offer from a friend of my brother who lives in the area. Life had never been so good, two invitations for one night. Good lord, kayaking is awesome.

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