Friday, June 28, 2013

So I'm training every morning on a lake, and spending all my other time running the camp's boy's  waterfront program.  That doesn't leave me with a lot of time to write, but there are a couple of things I wanted to get out there.

Yesterday I saw a beaver swimming.

Two days ago I took a GPS with me.  My Nelo is about half a knot faster than the boat I used last time.  I'm really excited, it'll shave critical hours off of crossings.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Back in the Game


It’s been two and a half years since my last post here.  Since then, I went to graduate school and studied mathematical modeling in biology near Tel Aviv. I got about halfway through the program before I needed a break. I turned this blog into a book and am now actively looking for a publisher, If Things Go Right, by Dov Neimand. I was certified to work as a federal law enforcement park ranger after attending a full time four month academy.  I was also certified as a lifeguard and as an ACA sea kayak instructor.  I’ve taught lots of people how to kayak.

All this time, my mind kept going back to my unfinished business.  

Friendly faces, amazing places, sea caves, wild waves, welcoming smiles, long nautical miles, upset boar, adventures galore.

There was the time I walked all night after swimming in the swamp, and there was the time I was rescued by the Coast Guard.  There were cliffs and mountains and cathedrals.  Every night a new port, every day a new wave.  It was the adventure of my life, and it was unfinished.

It was time to go back. From Naples to Cyprus, the distance is approximately 1,500 nautical miles.  They will be harder than the first thousand, with some big crossings and heavy winds, but I’m a better kayaker.  Hopefully, good enough for the challenges ahead of me.

Last time I sent out a whole bunch of letters asking for sponsorship.  There was a positive response from Nelo that I didn’t pursue, so I wrote them to see if they were still interested.  And they called me.  They could ship my boat for free, help me with equipment, and give me a big deal on the boat itself.  It was pretty great.  Oh, and if anybody buys a boat on account of me, I get a commission.  My biggest logistical problem, how to get a kayak affordably to Naples, was resolved with one letter.  I’m off to a good start.

I need to train, and I need money.  I’ve spent the last month trying to combine the two by letting people pay me for kayaking lessons.  A couple weeks ago I took out a group of five on the Hudson near northern Manhattan.  We had just launched and were still right near the dock when the jet skis came.  They were noisy hooligans and I was worried they would cause trouble.

I was in charge so I called out to them.  “Excuse me, we have some newer paddlers in this group and I’m worried your wakes could capsize them.”

One of the hooligans called back.  I couldn’t quite make out what he said.  Something about a body,


He turned of his jet ski so that I could hear him.  “There’s a body in the water.”

“Oh. ... Are you sure it’s dead?”  As a medic, maybe I ought to have a look.”

I paddled close enough to be sure that the floater wasn’t still a swimmer.  It turned out I didn’t need to get very close at all.

Link was with the group and he reported it on his marine radio.

The rest of day we trained upstream from the body and were interrupted a couple of times by police copters that thought the call might have had to do with the capsized kayakers.  We wave told them we were fine and pointed in the direction of the body.

I gave a few more lessons over the last two weeks.  Not as many as I would have liked, but hopefully enough.  On Sunday I did my second circumnavigation of Manhattan with some friends, including two people who were with me when we found the first body.

We were about two thirds of the way through the circumnavigation when we stopped to rest on a dock.  There were all sorts of things on the dock.  Barrels, a crate or two, a rowboat, a loaded body bag, some oars, you know, the usual.  Nothing that stood out to us in any way or that we especially noticed.

A police officer came down onto the dock.  Uh oh, we were in trouble for some reason that none of us knew about.  Hopefully it would just be a move along and not a ticket.

“Move along.”

Someone in the group objected.  This was a public dock.  Why was the police officer making us leave?

“That’s a body over there that we just pulled out of the river.”  She pointed at the body bag that only now caught our attention.  “It’s not respectful for you to be here now.”

We moved on.

Before we left a friend of mine told me that you always see something interesting on a circumnavigation.

I’ll be spending the next two months at a summer camp.  They have a small lake that I will hopefully be using to train every day.  Then I’ll try one last teaching week by leading a group on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, then I’m off.

I fly to Naples in the beginning of September and as the stories come in, I’ll post them here.

Oh, and if you want to buy a Nelo kayak, they’re really fast and affordable, buy it through me and help me pay for my trip.