I woke up one town over from Lerici in the comfortable hospitality of the sailing school. I was just across the bay from my boat and the director of the school had offered to give me a lift first thing in the morning. He was punctual and I was fifteen minutes late. I don't like to be late.
With a friendly face he invited me onto a large old motorboat and we cut across the bay in much less time than it had taken me to get to the school by car on Friday. I had asked if we could sail across the bay but was told it would take much too long.
Aside my boat in the Lerici harbor I packed up my things and prepared for my day. Boththe Director and a nice chap from the Erix boating club watched, chatted, and took pictures. Erix was the boating club that helped me find a place to stay on Friday.
My paddle float was missing. It wasn't likely it had been stolen, and sure enough it had been hung up to dry with my wet suit inside the Erix club. A paddle float is a device that attaches to the end of my paddle turning my kayak into an outrigger. I have used mine once to assist me in climbing up an extremely high pier.
Just before I was ready to leave, Chap gave me an envelope containing support from Erixfor my trip. Thank you club Erix for your involvement. May your members successfully pursue their own boating dreams.
From Lerici I paddled east, leaving the bay with the last of the coastal mountains on my left. From the edge of the bay of La Spezia the land fell back to the north and became suburban beach as I continued straight on to Viareggio.
I was a couple miles out, well into the middle of nowhere, when a fisherman saw me in the distance. He zoomed by to stare without saying a word.
The day was sunny and warm. Plenty of clouds were in the northern part of the sky, butthe southern half was mostly clear. There was a soft headwind and a current working against me, but the water was flat and the world was pleasant. The sea can be one of the most devastating places, and one of the calmest. Today was the latter.
I could see a sailboat moving along fairly close to the coast. Other than that and the gawking fisherman, no one else was out there.
The sun set. I pulled in my fishing line and turned on my lights by extending my paddle to the ends of my boat. I had forgotten how pleasant night paddling can be, when the sea is soft and the air soothing. I ran out of drinking water, but there wasn't that much left to go. Usually, three liters is enough.
A buoy with a black flag waving from it was suddenly on my right, scaring the willies out of me. But soon enough I had my willies back, only to lose them again when the light reflected oddly off of a small swell. I got a grip on them and kept them in check for the rest of the evening.
The shore was gradually approaching and the red and green lights marking the entrance to the marina finally passed me on either side. I had arrived. The Director had kindly arranged for a fellow here to host me in his boat for the night. I was looking for pier seven, I thought.
On pier eight there was a fisherman and another guy next to him.
“Excuse me,” he called out “Are you paddling from Lerici?”
“Yes” I said “Hi.”
“And are you going to Athens?”
I wondered how many people had paddled from Lerici today. I felt like I had put in a solid day’s work; to think that I was one of many was disheartening.
“Umm, sort of.” I answered. I had hoped to paddle to Athens, but I won't make it in time to be back in school for February 20th. My initial delay in getting started lost me a month of long days and left me in the north for bad weather, slowing me down even more.
So I had not just a host, but a welcoming comity. A couple and their daughter had me pose for pictures with them as soon as I got out of my boat. It was the girl who heard me ask for, and got for me, some water. She is my new favorite person.
I showered, ate, and slept in a small cabin of a beautiful sailing boat with a wonderful heater. The space was small and I was too tired to open up my sleeping bag. A couple of times in the night I would wake up and think about it. I would sit up just a little, hit my head on the low ceiling, and go back to sleep.