Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two Old Men in a Boat for One

Yesterday, while waiting for the weather I sat in the marina’s clubhouse and spoke with friends and family on my computer.

When the last of the folk left the clubhouse, one of them told me to follow him. He opened up for me the diving clubhouse that was next door: a room with some tables, chairs, fliers about diving, and a heater. On a cold windy day, it was a place to think and rest and be happy. The man never came back to ask me to leave or lock it behind me so I slept there overnight.

Instead of having to wake up to every night sound in the forest to defend myself against a boar wanting its bed back, I had to wake up to every creak of the wind in case the man remembered that he never locked the room, and unwittingly tried to lock me in.

So it was a relatively good night’s sleep, clean, private, and under a roof with a heater.

Day 14:

The next morning I stepped outside and it was cold. Trips between my kayak and my shelter were hurried. I have a problem with my splash top; water dripping down from my paddle pools in my sleeve. Every 20 minutes or so I have to stop paddling, open up the Velcro fastener near the wrist, and let out all the water. It's annoying.

I keep thinking that I could store the water in my water bottle and see how much I have at the end of the day. Then I would send it to the manufacturer. But if I did that, I wouldn't have anywhere to keep my lunch. Today I had a solution, I rolled my jacket sleeve above my elbows, it was a tight fit and a little uncomfortable, but it would be better then having a pool of water in my sleeve.

Under the jacket I was wearing my T shirt and the fleece vest I had been given on the night of the swamp walk. I was also wearing bathing suit shorts (I add here the word shorts because Pigeon had wondered if “bathing suit” might mean speedos.)

The rule with kayaking is “Dress for submersion.” I was not. It was cold out. I had more clothing, but it was designated dry clothing and would not leave my hatches until I was safely on land. By this time of year I should be wearing a wet suit, but the good people of the French office of customs have decided to deprive me of my wet suit for the time being. So I paddled my coldest day yet.

I cut straight across to Agde. Or at least I wanted to. As I pulled out of the harbor from Narbonne Plage I could make out in the distance something in the distant misty sea that might have been a mountain and it might have been a cruise ship. Like a mountain, it was big, but so are cruise ships. It seemed a little bit more mountain-like than ship-like, but it's front and back sloped down towards each other in a uniquely ship-like fashion.

After dodging under a fishing line with a shout of surprise, I called out to the awakened fisherman and asked “Agde?” pointing my paddle in the direction of the distant shade. I don't know what he told me, but I'm fairly certain it had to do with his line which he didn't realize I was now safely past. I tried a few more times pronouncing it differently.

Finally he stopped talking about his fishing line, listened to what I was trying to ask him, and understood. He answered excitedly yes and told me how far it was. Though I still wasn't certain if he was talking about the distant shade, or just the general northerly direction.

There was a west breeze so I set my course for a place between what I thought might be Agde, and what I could recognize as land. It took a while to clear up enough for me to be sure, and I kept repeating the same thoughts in my head. “That's where Agde should be, I think.” and “The front and back slope in, it has to be a cruise ship. You'll call yourself stupid when you get there and it's a cruise ship.”

It was Agde, and as the day went on the breeze turned into a southern, then south easter picking up a little more speed all the time. It was nice to finally have a tail wind.

I spoke aloud lines from Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail as I paddled.*

[caption id="attachment_622" align="alignleft" width="171" caption="A picture lated taken in a cathedral in Montpelier."][/caption]

I stopped for lunch at around 1:00 pm on an island just in front of the city. Most of the island was taken up by a castle with walls dropping straight into the sea, but there was a pebbly beach that was nice. Above the beach their was a stone walled courtyard and beyond a heavy portcullis. The courtyard was grassy with wind beaten trees, pleasantly at contrast with the beach.

And it was closed. The castle and the courtyard were fenced off. There were signs with French and a picture of a person with something falling on his** head from above. The picture was not a photograph, I hope. After I stretched and moved my seat back to better suit my spray skirt I was heading on to my final destination for the day, Sete.

“Pronounced 'Set,'” said one of the the old men. I had passed a really small motor boat with what looked like a child size cabin and two old men. They were standing where there was barely enough room for one and talking to each other. By now it was drizzling and the sea had begun to grow a little rough. They encouraged me on “Bon Voyage!” “Au revoir!” I replied.

Unfortunately I had neglected to adjust the location of the foot rest together with my seat, and surf was now too rough to attempt such a feet from within my boat. The settings were only off by a few inches, but my shoulder hurt more and more as the day drew to a close.

The day before I had finally had some luck with couch surfing. In Sete there was a nice lady who had agreed to host me for the night. I pulled into a canal that had a number of docks, locked my boat and grabbed my bag and began looking to meet up with her.

On my way I stopped at a bakery to get a baguette. As I was leaving with a warm roll of bread in hand, a small black dog walked behind the counter from a back room. It proceeded to head out the door just behind me. The dog then peed on the side of the bakery, and went right back inside.

It knew where it was going.

* Just a guess: “Oh, oh, I see, running away then. You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what's coming to you. I'll bite your legs off!” ~ ed.

** I use “his” instead of “her” because in stick figure world women don't wear pants. ~ Dov

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