Monday, January 24, 2011

Star Fish

Day 56:

Yesterday I finished the paddle to the Lega Navale in Civitavecchia.  I had accidentally told them I would be there last Wednesday, when I meant Thursday, but was running late and with a two day break in Rome only arrived this evening.

What was Rome like?  I can only say that I may not have had the properly reverent attitude when passing the tombs of the popes who oversaw the crusades and the inquisition.  We were looking for the one behind the expulsion from Spain or he-who-was-pontiff during WWII, but were ushered out of the hall before we could find them.

The other interesting thing we noticed in the mausoleum is the number of popes who presided for two months or less.  There were a lot.  While a more empirical data set would be necessary, I suspect the conclusion would be the same as my conjecture.  Many popes died before their natural time, or that one is more likely to be selected pope if he is in extremely poor health.

I wasn't on the water until about 1:30 p.m.  There was a wind that was sometimes helpful and sometimes not.  A little farther out to sea it would have been a strong wind, but I was within a few meters of the beach almost the whole day.

Most of the land was wilderness, woods or salt marshes.  Sometimes the trees would rise up high and at others they would be low scrubland things.  I saw a bird on the beach that had long legs, a long neck, and a long beak.  It was trying to find shallow water to stand in, but had to move on every time a wave would come.  I think it was somehow in the wrong place.

The wilderness ended and as night came I was paddling along a giant industrial plant that stank of sulfur.  Soon after I crossed a huge port that was designed for big boat traffic.  I kept my eyes open for anything that was too big to see me, but the water was quiet except for the occasional night fisherman.

Paddling along a seawall there were lots of fish around me, more than I've seen yet, splashing around the water and leaping out of it.  There was a big fish, about a foot and a half long that leaped out near the front of my boat, and thudded into my bow hull just under the water line.  My kayak shook.

I put my lure back in the water and before long was pretty sure I had caught something.  Anxious to end my day, I decided I would leave it there and deal with it when I pulled into port.

Blinded by a powerful light just above the water I went over some shallow rocks that I otherwise would have seen.  I shivered as my hull crunched over them knowing that another ugly scar would mark it.  A minute later my reel popped out from under the bungees.  I pulled my line in and found that I lost my lure and whatever tasty treat might still be hooked on it.

There were bioluminescents.  Little tiny sparks would spill off my paddle, or jump out of the water just behind them.  Farther away when a fish would leap, his landing would be marked by sparks bursting up after it.  It was a little bit of magic next to an industrial port.

Finally I pulled into the smaller port I was looking for.  I had saved the position on my GPS, and it's a good thing because their navigational lights weren't working.  In the darkness I didn't see the harbor until I was only a very short distance away.

The president of the Lega Navale Civitavecchia was extremely welcoming and made me feel like a visiting lord.  He told me that the purpose of the Lega Navale was to help those doing awesome trips like mine, and educate youth about the sea.  Here they take kids out windsurfing.

The goal of education is a wonderful one.  The sea covers most of the globe, and its health is a good indicator of the health of the planet.  Right now the sea is not healthy, coral reefs are dying, water is rising and too warm, fish have poison in their livers, and overfishing is devastating natural habitats.  It's nice to know that some people are still fighting.

I slept last night on a boat in one of the oldest Roman harbors.  The port is surrounded by ancient walls and battlements.


  1. lovin it! just caught up on a few days worth of reads... we all have our own adventures to tend to.

  2. Dov -- I found your comment about Rome pretty dumb. Come on! To see everything via the expulsion of the Jews from Spain or World War II (and the history of a pope whose name you don't even know) makes you sound like some American college undergrad. This is history via cartoons or caricature. It's like the reaction of people who, when they hear "Israel," bring up the treatment of the Palestinians. Is your focus on the daily travel wearing you down?

    Otherwise, it's good to know you're making progress, and I hope to see you back at the Downtown Boathouse one of these days. Our season starts on May 15. By the way, some 64-year-old Polish guy just completed a kayak trip from Africa to South America.

  3. Thanks so much for your thoughts Elizabeth and I'm honored to know your still reading the blog. I also appreciate the candid and open nature of your comment.
    Certainly my feeling at the time was ethnocentric, with little regard for papal accomplishments that weren't antisemitic.
    I'd like to consider it a personal victory that in all my writing so far I have only been accused of being an idiot twice. The first time was too rude to publish. I can only hope that my ability to hide my true nature will continue to hold as I seek employment after my trip is over.
    I apologize if I've offended you or any of my other readers as this blog is not meant to be political or religious in nature.

  4. Oh, and if I make it to the city this summer, I'll definately put in some fun filled houres at the boat house!