Friday morning I was woken up by my new friend Banjo. He told me to try to make it to Celle Ligure and gave me a number to call when I got there. The winds were good, which was nice because not everybody at the marina I had been staying at was happy to have me there.
The sky was overcast and I got drizzled on. This was no light overcast either. It wasthekind of overcast that blocks out any understanding of the time of day and hides the tops of mountains.
I began with a good clip but as soon as I was around my first corner (44.181342,8.409176) the current picked up against me and I felt as though I was inching forward. Once past the pressure point I took into the bay and was again moving at a comfortable gait.
For the most part I was moving into a headwind, but not a strong one. Sometimes I would have a small tailwind. At one point (44.313347,8.502903) while I was paddling along a tall seawall, the water around me suddenly splashed up in a hundred tiny ways in the space just ahead of my boat, as though a school of fish just below the surface was spitting up. The water in the place was kind of nasty looking, with goo floating about, I don’t blame them. This happened a few more times.
I passed an island with a lot of seagulls and pine trees. Bergeggi Island, there was a cave at one end that had a small seawall on either side of its entrance making it perfect for pulling boats up into.
Later, a large tugboat was heading straight towards me, moving fast. They were still a distance aways but I though it would be best if I used my radio to warn them about my presence. Moving into the bay I had made a security announcement, but that was an hour earlier. “Large white tug boat this is solo kayak, do you see me?” Nothing, I tried twice more and was now running out of time. I let go of my radio and sprinted to safety.
As I approached the destination I had programmed into my GPS, a Boy Scout's clubhouse off of a beach, I grew concerned that I had put in the wrong coordinates. There were only cliffs to my left, no beach. Finally, only a few feet away, I was around a corner (44.336373,8.543072) and the beach was there.
When trying to make a beach landing it is important that my boat not get dragged on the sand. The trick is to paddle in just behind one wave but before the next. At the right moment when the water is shallow, I release my sprayskirt and get out, hopefully without falling on my butt in the cold wet and before the next wave comes to wallop me and fill my boat up with water and sand. If successful, the boat not being full of water and sand, I lift it out of the water and carry it ashore.
All of this worked except for the last bit. In the morning I can lift my boat up with littletrouble, after an energetic six hour paddle, I could not lift my boat. And as I tried it got hit with a wave and took on water, though not so much sand as it was a pebbly beach. After that, it didn’t go so well.
Once on the beach I found the clubhouse which would be my home for the Sabbath. I called Banjo’s friend who was happy to hop over and show me around. The beach was loaded with kayaks and small sailboats. The one room clubhouse had small loft and a heater. It was perfect.
The sky was overcasat and their was a light drizzle. I have heard it said that Ukraine is the armpit of Europe. Italy may be wonderful but at that moment it felt like the place where the sun don’t shine.
Friday night I had a small Sabbath dinner with a few supplies I had picked up in town and slept. Saturday I went for a walk. I walked on a sidewalk along the beach, and then above the cliff for a while and watched the big waves play against the rocks, some times shooting spray twenty feet high.
I then headed into the Beigua Mountains. I walked along the road always going up. Each street in the village was at least one story higher then the previous one, and one row of houses between them. Soon the houses gave way to a slightly more spread out country side. Olive orchards and small farms now used what side of the mountain they could. The green that was everywhere was fresh wet green, the smell of the sea left behind I could now smell wood stoves burning and the mountain forest ahead.
I arrived at a parking lot after which the street became too narrow for cars and was crowded on both sides by pink and yellow Italian houses. The shutters and doors were green. A small yard filled one of the few spaces between the homes. A big German Shepherd was there.
“Hello, I’m cold and wet.” He told me quietly.
I nodded understandingly and put my hand through the gate to scratch him behind the ears.
“I love you.” He told me leaning his snoot into my hand as much as he could.
I put my other hand through the gate to give him the full service that every dog is entitled to.
After the small village I was on a dirt road heading into the mountains in earnest. The woodsy air that surrounded me was fresh and exhilarating. Mountain streams were abundant, it’s been raining, and the sound of their rushing water and the cool sweet air that surrounds them brought a full happiness to my being that I hadn’t felt since I’d been kayaking. I could see the sea, and the village below me, and more mountains in the distance. I was walking on dirt roads and small paths through the clouds and the woods and everything was wet and fresh and good.