Saturday, November 30, 2013



I haven’t had meat in months.  Kosher meat just isn’t available south of Rome.  I’ve been day dreaming about it.  Meat.

More bad weather.

For most of this week, the weather forecast for tomorrow was always good.  But when I checked it again in the morning, it would be borderline leaning towards bad.

This weekend however is terrible.  It looks like the only way I’ll make it is if I paddle on the borderline days.  It may not be fun like paddling on a good day, but it’ll be more fun than being stuck.

A Jewish family in Regio Calalbrio invited me to join them for Chanuka.  They drove for an hour to pick me up at the port in Pizzo.  

When they got there they called me, “Hi, we’re here in Pizzo!”

I walked a hundred feet so I could see the enormous sign at the entrance to the port - TROPEA.

They drove for another half hour to pick me up there.  

They took a large chunk of lamb out of their freezer for Chanuka and my visit.  Their house has a roof, and a shower, a toilet, a warm bed with a pillow, a wood stove, and lots of cake fresh out of the over.  

Behind the beach neighborhood are mountains, and on Friday I ran in them.  There’s some kind sharp thorny plant that grows all over the place and kept pricking my bare feet, but I would hobble a bit, try to pull the thorn out, and keep on going.

I ran through the mountains between big rocks and low scrubs. I jogged past a farm in the middle of nowhere that had massive herds of goats.  I ran along streams and through an abandoned village, and after an hour I turned around and ran back.

The streets and mountains are covered in fine black sand from an erupting volcano across the straight in Sicily.  In the morning after I arrived I heard it rumble. 

On Monday, the weather should be borderline again, so I’m going kayaking, and hopefully I’ll have a good time.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="2976,2977,2978"]


Tropea Forever


Yesterday was a bad weather day.  Today is a bad weather day.  When I woke up this morning it was 35 degrees out.  Last night it was hailing and now it’s raining.  The wind is coming from the south, so I’m not trying to kayak through this cold dreary day.

The zip tie holding my seat together tore just as I was pulling into port on Monday.  So I went out to buy a thicker zip tie.  I only wanted one, not a bag of a hundred.  I told the fellow behind the counter why it was that I only wanted one, and he gave me four for free.  But they’re too thick and don’t fit through the seat.  I used some good marine grade string instead.  It’s how I fixed the kayak I was training in over the summer when the seat broke in exactly the same way.

I wanted to paddle this morning.  I got mostly ready while I watched the occasional lightning bolt in the distance.  It wrecked me to be stuck in port again.  Again and again.  I’m spending more days walking around than sitting on my butt.

I’ll have to be patient.  If I only get to kayak two days a week, then so be it.  I want to make lots of progress, but it’s not to be.

I wonder, would I be going out in rougher conditions if I were a better paddler.  Ultimately what it comes down to is that paddling into a strong headwind is not fun.  I want to enjoy my kayaking so I wait.  Still, I wonder.


In the mean time, I sent a couple letters asking about work in New Zealand.  Would it be a terrible thing if I took a sufficiently well paying job south of the equator for a few months while the worst of the winter passed.  I wonder if there is such a job.

I had hoped that I could be in Greece before winter hit hard like this, but it was not to be.

Patience. Being angry at Nelo for delivering my kayak a month and a half late despite the expressed imperative of a timely launch and promises made, will solve nothing.  Patience.  This weather will pass, and I will kayak.  I will see great things and enjoy warm clear waters.  Good things come to those who...  Blech, who am I kidding.  It hurts, but I’ll persevere.  Somehow.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="2970,2969,2968"]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 76


The weather on Friday was not as good as I had hoped, and the forecast for Sunday was dismal, so I got on a train and went back to Napoli to spend my sabbath with the Jewish community there.  I stayed in Corrado’s sailboat and washed my stinky clothing with Dr. Bronner’s, my strong all-purpose biodegradable compact soap.  I also wash my pot and beard with it, though not at the same time.

Refreshed, I took the train south on Sunday, constantly checking the weather on the way.  I checked five different weather models.  None of them seemed to agree.  But the Italian news channel and the various locals I spoke to all told me there would be a north wind.  That would be good.

Instead of going to Pizzo twenty miles away along the coast, I would cut across the bay to Tropea 24 nautical miles away.  It was only four more miles further, but the plan cut off the 13 miles from Pizzo to Tropea.  The risk was that, at the height of my crossing,I would be about ten miles out.  No problem, so long as nothing went wrong.

The morning was cold, it took me three hours to get ready.  I was on the water at 8:00.  Twenty four miles at three knots meant I should arrive at 16:00, earlier if I got the promised tail wind.

And I did! over the course of the morning three or four swells pushed me along nicely in the right direction for a combined 10 seconds.  Mostly though the wind and swells were pushing straight out from the bay, so I compensated by aiming my bow inland to hold my course to Tropea.

Ahead I could see lightning over the peninsula ahead of me.  But the dark clouds and rain beneath them moved off to the west.  My eyes followed them to a mountain island.  The island was soon obscured by the storm, though later I did see its silhouette  in a flash of lightning.

The storm was an enormous north south border of darkness.  It was a lucky thing for me that the wind was blowing it away, even though it seemed to be getting larger.  Not only was the wind blowing the storm out to see as it was me, but also the weather forecast that I was relying on said it should head south and not inland.

It’s true, the forecast is not always accurate, and it’s true that sometimes storm clouds up above move in the opposite direction of the surface wind, but I didn’t think this was such an occasion.

I admitted I might be wrong when I took out my radio to do a radio check, frightened by the dark sky above.  Nobody answered.  My radio has a supposed range of five miles.  Given the weather, it’s not surprising I was alone.  Still, the point of being a good kayaker is to have the wits not to get caught in a storm and the skills to get out when it comes.  I could change my course and paddle to Pizzo.  The direction would take me away from the front and cut two miles off of my day.  But I wouldn’t beat the clouds.  It was too far.  I held my course.

And then it was on me.  The waves rose in height and ferocity by a couple inches.  I was rained on in two spats, both lasting about five minutes. The sun came out and the storm passed.  There was lightning in the distance, but my fear of electrocution wasn’t realized.

After the storm the wind changed direction.  I paddled into a solid head wind and my speed dropped down to two knots.  At that rate, I would not arrive until late in the evening, long after my energy supplies were gone.

But I kept eating.  I had whole wheat bread crackers that tasted like stale cardboard and two Nalgenes with three ounces of chia seeds and a liter of water each.  The goal was to consume at least 200 calories an hour.  And my energy didn’t crash, so I kept on paddling into the head wind, patiently persevering until the wind died down and after.

At 16:00 I could easily make out Tropea only four miles away. I could also make out another front of storm clouds out to sea, shooting of lightning at every opportunity.  I decided I would try to beat them.  I didn’t want to risk another chance of lightning death.

I picked up the pace, struggling to maintain my speed at over four knots, sometimes getting up to five.  The head wind had died down, but would occasionally resume in short ferocious gusts.  I huffed and I puffed and I beat out the storm.

I was in the port a little before five.  It was almost dark and the skies let loose.  Shivering, I found my way into the ports office in my kayak clothing to escape the torrential downpour.

Yes I could leave my kayak there.  No I could not shower, the showers are closed.  No I could not have the code to their wifi connection to update my blog, it wasn’t possible.

Later a dock worker gave me the key to the showers.  He turned on the hot water heater for me and I dutifully waited half an hour for lukewarm water.

I began my shower cold, I finished it colder.  I put all my clothing on and the shivering stopped.  I got into my sleeping bag under an awning and dropped off.  

No dinner, blessed sleep.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="2960,2961,2962"]

Nautical miles paddled: 24

Total since Naples: 195.5

Current location: 38.680434,15.902901

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Oldest Profession


The oldest professions, is of course, kayaking.  Archaeologists have found evidence that Arctic peoples were hunting with kayaks at least 4000 years ago, and it’s possible they were at it long before that.  Probably not on days like Tuesday though.

Tuesday the weather was brutal and I stayed in my shack and read a book.  I told the captain of the port that the weather for Wednesday looked better and that I might be able to leave.

He tried to convince me not to.  I left it at “Maybe.  I’ll decide in the morning.”

Wednesday the weather made Tuesday look like a walk in the park.  Enormous waves heaved themselves over the walls of the port and lightning storms illuminated the sky far out at sea when they weren’t defining with thunder directly overhead. The captain of the port made fun of me all day because I had said I might go kayaking.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="2929,2930,2931"]


Today I got a ride to the supermarket.  There’s a supermarket a 20 minute walk from the port, but the fellow who was giving me a ride took me to the one an hour away.

While he was driving I asked “quanti kilometer [how many kilometers]?”

“Three kilometers.”  He told me.

When we arrived my smartphone told me it was five.  I bought some bread, beans, and cream cheese and began walking back along the two lane highway.

I held my hand out to hitchhike along the way.  Thank god, no one picked me up.

I could see the back of a woman holding a cigarette on the other side of the road facing oncoming traffic.  Maybe she was hitchhiking in the opposite direction.  From behind I could see that she had shiny black hair down to her waist over a jean jacket.

I kept walking and could see her better when the bushes were out of the way.  The woman was most likely in her 50s and was wearing only a thong below the waist.  She was probably cold.

I kept on walking.

Here and there along the road, wherever there was room for a car to pull over, there were women in outfits that left little to the imagination, and I suspect this was bad for their business.  It would have taken a good deal of imagination to want to see more.

The sea along the road glistened two distinct clear colors, brownish grey and farther out azure blue.  Whitecaps abounded.  A double rainbow arched out onto the near side of a mountain just ahead on my right.  The lower of the two rainbows was surprisingly close.


It started to pour.  The woman who happened to be next to me at this juncture went to get her umbrella and I put my pack down to get out my rain coat and pants.  I was putting the pants on when the middle aged heavy set blond wearing a miniskirt looked up at me from her low chair.

  I shook my head “no” so that there be no confusion.  I had stopped to put on my rain coat, not make a new friend.

I glanced at her.  With her knees up the way they were I saw she was not a natural blonde.  The movie Basic Instinct is forever ruined for me.

“Gana?”  She asked me, almost pleadingly.  It reminded me of Oliver Twist, begging for something so simple as a bit of food.  I don’t known what gana means and I don’t know if that’s exactly what she said.

I shook my head no.  She pleaded again.  “Gana?”

“No.”  I tried to say politely.  There was something very sad going on.  I didn’t intend to hang around and find out what it was.  I finished getting my rain clothing on and continued walking.


It was pouring.  I realized that in my flight I forgot to put the rain cover over my pack.

In the afternoon I used zip ties to fix my seat.  I paddled around the port and found that I can invert my spray skirt tube to get most of my body rotation back and move the chafing from my back to my belly.  I also practiced some rolls, but missed my hand rolls.  Eventually, practice will make perfect, I hope.

Tomorrow the weather may well be good enough for me to paddle to the next port, Pizzo.  But the first half of next week is supposed to be stormy again.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 75


I had to wait until 8:00 for the supermarket to open. So I went back to sleep and woke up at 7:30. It turned out that the supermarket was a long walk away, and once I was back and packed up it was 10:00.

I had 15 nautical miles to paddle. There was a storm out at sea and I could expect a stiff head wind coming from land. At least the water would mostly be flat and hopefully if I stayed close enough to the coast, I could steer clear of the wind. Hopefully.

A wizened old man asked me when I was leaving. "Tempo parte?" were words I understood.

"Adesso."[now] I told him.

He told me not to. He told me the weather was no good. He showed me how even in the port the wind was blowing ripples across the water and he pointed the clouds that were cartwheeling over the mountains. This sorcerer knew what he was about and nature itself was at his command to demonstrate to me its fury.

I explained that I would try to stay close to land. Beaches would line my entire route, so worst case scenario I could stop wherever. And besides lovely as it is, San Lucido wasn't exactly the Garden of Eden. I pointed to the spot where I had slept in the sandy litter strewn concrete port.

"Hai dormito qui? [you slept here?]" He asked me in surprise. Had he but known I could have slept on his fishing boat. He pointed to his fishing boat. It was not a yacht. It looked like the sort of place thousands of fish had been gutted and countless gallons of diesel spilled.

"Thank you, that's so kind!" But I think I'll try to leave today anyways. If things get rough, I can always turn around.

And when I started, things weren't rough. That came later.

I paddled just a few yards from the beach and the wind gradually grew stronger.

Two men were standing near the water and started yelling at me to stop. I thought they were fishermen so I aimed a little farther out to steer clear of their lines, but they kept yelling at me to stop, so I did. They spoke to me in Italian and I didn't understand.

"Quanti meter?" I asked. [How many meters?]

“Duecento [two hundred]” one of them told me in Italian. I looked out. There was a black flag at about that distance. I went to paddle around it thinking it would probably just be easier to paddle over there line, but not a good idea since I didn't want to set off a mine.

The wind continued to get stronger. Some of my breaks I was able to find shelter for and others I wasn't. I was washed hundreds of feet out to sea.

Into the wind I told myself. "It's hard, but I can do this. I will do this." The sea was still mostly flat so I pushed forward. My seat back broke off.

I had over the summer sampled an Inuk at the camp I worked at. The seat in that one broke also. The Nelo rep promised me the boat they would send me in Italy would have a different seat. It didn't, but the Nelo rep promised me a lot of things that never happened.

I tried to fix the seat, and my fix held for about five minutes before it broke again. The next time it only held for two minutes and after that I had a few 30 second goes, before giving up entirely.

I passed what I could only call a micro port. In good weather I could have taken out there as a sea wall protected the small bay from the sea, but today the opening faced the wind and provided no protection at all. It would not be an easy place to give up, and I wanted to arrive in the larger port at Campora San Giovani in a desperate hope they'd have a shower (They don't.)

I paddled without a seat back into the ever increasing headwind. I smiled and waved to fisherman who looked at me like I was crazy.

My back ached. My shoulders hurt. My progress was slow, but I kept at it, and eventually I arrived in a modern looking port crowded with motor boats and small fishing boats.

The captain of the port greeted me from the dock and before I could get a word in, told me I was welcome to stay for the night, where ever I was going, where ever I was coming from.

"Will you be leaving tomorrow?" he asked me in Italian?

"Oggi vento bruto, domani ..." [Today the wind is bad, tomorrow ...]

"Multi bruto." he completed for me. I could stay until the storm passed and shower with their hose. There was a small shack over there where I could dump my stuff and sleep. I was welcome to what little they had.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="2912,2913,2914,2915,2916,2917"]


Nautical miles paddled: 16

Total since Naples:  171.5

Current location:  39.055401,16.091937

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 74


I paddled to Santa Lucido,

I was exhausted through most of the paddle as I passed one beach town after another. Small houses dotted the mountains and higher up I saw villages with castles, towers, pastel painted homes and shops.

Down by the water the apartments were blocky and unpainted.  The stairs were on the outside.

Train tracks ran along the sea and a couple times an hour a passenger or freight train would chug passed.

My back had been chafing for a few days now. The first day it was really bad was the one after I camped out and hadn't showered. It had gotten a little better over the weekend, but now it was getting worse. The spray skirt and my shorts were rubbing my skin off with every body rotation and stroke. I needed to fix it. I released my sprayskirt from the kayak's combing.

The chafing was substantially relieved. There was another side effect: My forward stroke drastically improved. My spray skirt had been too tight and I only realized once I paddled without it. The key to a good forward stroke is body rotation. A good spray skirt is elastic enough so that rotation is free or nearly so. Once my skirt was off, I was rotating easily. I put the skirt back on again for comparison, and suddenly rotation was much harder.

I took the skirt off and resolved to leave it off, at the very least, until the chafing healed or I found myself approaching rough conditions. If I find myself in rough conditions without any warning, I'll have a problem, because I can hardly ask the sea to calm down for just a moment while I put my skirt on. Nelo provided the skirt for me with the boat, but despite their promises and my requests, not in advance giving me a chance to test it.

With the skirt off as I approached the last hour of my paddle I found my energy and started making four, four and a half, and even five knots, an enormous jump from the three I had been doing all morning.

Santa Lucido is a small town with a smaller fishing port and a group of old fisherman that hang around shooting the breeze. They were excited to hear I had paddled from Barcelona.

“Dove Sepermerkati?” [where is the supermarket?] I asked them.

The words in their answer included “Hogi chiuso, dominica.” [The supermarket is closed on Sundays.]

I had cooked the last of my pasta that morning. I would have liked to eat, but I guess it was not to be.

One of the fisherman told me to “vinire”[come] to “mea casta”[my house.]

We got in his car and went up the mountain. With great generosity, he and his family gave me pasta and bread and chocolate and chili peppers from the garden. I was even invited to take a shower.

Naturally I showered with my shirt on, since there was no other way it would get clean. My host let himself into the bathroom, undoubtedly to tell me something about the shampoo or some such helpful tidbit, and was shocked to see me wearing my shirt.

I was shocked to see him at all, and commanded him to leave, though my italian was limited I was entirely clear. “Ciao!” He left.

After the shower my host gave me a dry shirt and showed me his enormous vegetable garden, grape vines, fruit trees, cannabis plant, wine fermentation system, and frozen fish freezer from the fish he had caught.

Unfortunately, his wife would not let me stay for the night, so he drove me back down to my kayak. I slept beside it.

The weather for the next day looked grim, but it may be possible sticking close to the coast to make it to the next port some 15 miles away.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="2901,2902,2903,2904,2905,2906,2907,2908,2909"]

Nautical miles paddled: 21

Total since Naples: 155.5

Current Location:  39.313175,16.043418


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Well, what do you think?

I have a question for you wonderful readers of mine.  Do you prefer pictures in slideshows or galleries? 

[polldaddy poll=7575077]

Also, don't forget about the little donate button in the top right corner.  I love to write, kayak, and post about it here, but I can only do it so long as I can feed myself, so if all my readers would just chip in a little bit once in a while then I should be able to keep it going.

Day 73


I woke up in my sleeping bag on the beach. It was 5:00 am, my usual time, and I was supposed to get up and begin a bright new day. It was cold outside of my sleeping bag, so I went back to sleep for another half an hour.

At 5:30 I was up and packing to be off. I had a fruity nutty vanilla bar for breakfast and then pooped into the sea from some rocks. By 7:00 I was in my boat ready to leave the beach. I looked up at the stone house that had been closed to me and saw a face in the window on the top floor.

I waved and smiled. She yanked the curtain shut. The owner of the face then opened the curtain and waved back. The she opened the window and invited me in for coffee.

“Prima dieci minuto I vini. Adesso I qui.” [first ten minutes I wine. Now I here] I gestured to the kayak and then called up “Grazie.”

The forecast had called for a headwind and rain all day. The headwind was to come from land though, so hopeful by staying close to the coast again, which I liked doing anyways even if it slowed me down, I could keep under it.

But the sky was clear and until the last twenty minutes there was mostly a gentle tail wind or no wind at all. So I cut across the mouths of the bays and made good time. I ate right and felt energetic until the last couple of miles when I began to feel depleted. The sun was gone behind a flock of clouds and the wind picked up against me. A gust was so strong that I needed to skull to stay upright until it passed.

Wearily, I arrived in port. As I paddled along a fellow on a gokart kept up with me on the side. He showed me where to take out and I smiled and said “ciao.”

He was the captain of the port and like my story. Yes, there was a small room where I could sleep on the floor. Would I like to shower?

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="2876,2877,2878,2879,2880,2881,2882,2883,2884,2885,2886,2887,2888,2889,2890,2891"]

Nautical miles paddled: 20
Total since Naples: 134.5
Current location: 39.616921,15.85223

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 72


Wednesday,after my paddle, I went into a bar to write about my day. The hour that I was there I was alone except for the bartender. When I was done I asked him if he knew anyone in the Lega Navale. In the past they have often let me sleep in their offices.

He told me to come with him. We left the bar and found a big sign with the number for the Lega Navale president on it. We called and spoke to him. The Lega Navale in Scario only had an office and it was too small for me to sleep on the floor. It wouldn't work, he told me.

The bartender told me to follow him, and we went into a new two story brick faced building next to the church. Inside there were lots of crosses and I soon found myself shaking hands with the local clergy leader had that white collar that some of them do. Unfortunately, they would be unable to help me as well. I was relieved. I'm not saying I wouldn't take a church’s hospitality, I would just feel awkward. Should I tell them I'm Jewish? Does it matter? Would it be making a big deal out of nothing? I'm fairly certain that if I was a rabbi and a properly respectful kayaker showed up at the door of my synagogue then I would help him, even if he was Christian. But that's just me.

I was getting cold and began thinking about some boats I had seen in dry dock.

We walked back to the dock. A few interested people had gathered around us as the bartender explained to them my plight. One of them took me home for the night. He lived with his mother and daughter up on the side of the mountain. They had lots of fruit trees and were happy to share fresh apples and pomegranates right off the tree with me.

The mother gave me pajamas, slippers, and made every effort to make me as comfortable as possible and kept talking to me in Italian. Sometimes I could figure out what she was saying.

By 7:30pm I was fast asleep. A couple hours later someone woke me up to try to give me a coat and a couple of shirts. My hosts had noticed that I was cold, because I hadn't bothered to dress properly since the cold caught me by surprise.  He also noticed I put the same shirt back on after my shower.

I said "Grazie, no" Repeatedly, but the fellow insisted. I didn't know how to say "I have warm clothing but am too stupid to wear it" in Italian. Eventually he left and I dropped back to sleep.

I set out to paddle the 31 nautical miles to Belvedere because I was tired of waiting out bad weather or making short days and Thursday was supposed to have perfect weather. It didn't. Whenever I left the shelter of the shore there was a headwind. Sometimes it died down, and sometimes I had a tailwind, but mostly it was a headwind.

At least the sea was flat. So I made progress by following every nook and cranny of the coast, which was nice since I got to investigate sea caves and paddle through rock gardens. One sea cave had a an opening at the end of it just a few inches above the surface of the water. I could hear from inside a deep resonant sound of waves crashing as though there was an enormous cavern on the other side of that small opening.

Four hours in I got to my chia drink bottle. It was a bottle that I had prepared several days earlier for the failed launch. I had refrigerated it every night, but it had spent a day and a half on my kayak deck. It smelled a little bad. Only a little, so I drank, and then spewed it out. It was no good. I didn't have any fuel for the last three hours of the day.

It wasn't a problem, I could pull over and prepare some more. I found a sheltered beach and took out. I climbed a rusty stairwell and at the top I explored what looked like a rustic summer resort. I searched for a while, I couldn’t find a hose spigot, or any other fresh water source. There were outdoor showers, but the water to them had been shut off.

Back in my kayak I paddled for another hour before I found a small sheltered bay.  A small rocky island was not quite connected to the mainland by a busy rock garden, and some fellow, probably Roman, had filled in the space between those rocks to create the bay.  

The harbor was a perfect place to take out and call it a day. I had no idea if there would be anywhere else this nice for the next 16 miles.

A compound of three large houses overlooked the small bay. I poked around. I found an orange orchard. In one large structure there was a small open chapel with some candles and a big painting of someone who was probably a saint.

The next door into the building was open to a large court yard where I introduced myself to a father and son couple who were working there. They were surprised to see me. They agreed to let me sleep on the beach and they gave me water. When I came back to present them my business card the door was closed.  Message received.

To prepare my food for the next day I built small cooking fire from drift wood to save fuel. To save water I cooked my pasta in a seawater tap water mix that left dish a little too salty.  When my fuel canister runs out I'll likely have to go to Rome to replace it, or come up with an entirely different solution.  For a side dish I prepared some seagull.  No, I didn’t.  I don’t even know if they’re kosher, though I encourage any of my readers who do to comment here.  

Tomorrow I'll need to paddle 19 miles to get to Belvedere, and all of it into an increasingly strong head wind. I hope I make it.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="2777,2778,2779,2780,2781,2782,2783,2784,2785,2786,2787,2789,2790,2791,2792,2793,2794,2795,2796,2797,2798,2799,2800,2801,2802,2803,2804,2805,2806,2807,2808,2809,2810,2811,2812,2813,2814,2815,2816,2817,2818,2819,2820,2821,2822,2823,2824,2825,2826,2827,2828,2829,2830,2831,2832,2833,2834,2835,2836,2837,2838,2839,2840,2841,2842,2843,2844,2845,2846,2847,2848,2849,2850,2851,2852,2853,2926"]


Nautical miles paddled: 16

Total since Naples: 114.5

Current Location: N 39.934344 E 15.742815

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 71


I went to the office in the port. A man there who did not speak English but knew my story, more or less, told me that they had called ahead to Scario and told them I would be coming. I was unable to determine if this meant I had a place to stay, if it didn't I might not take out there but keep on going depending on when I arrived. I did understand that the Scario police department knew I would be coming. I don't think that counted as progress at all.

The weather forecast said that in the morning I would have a head wind and it would decrease throughout the day. A close goal was appropriate, especially if the wind was stronger or lasted longer than forecast.

And the wind was strong when I first left the bay. The waves weren't more than a foot high, but there were a lot of them working to push me back. I explored every bay I could to get out of it, and as time passed the wind died down.

I went in to a few sea caves and took pictures of more.

All of the land around me was park land and almost every point had a castle or tower on it. The towering cliffs above me were a fiery orange on gray and rocks down by the sea where jagged and white or black. Just below the waterline, the rocks were purple.

I saw a goat. And I took a lot of pictures, until my camera battery went dead, because I wasn't going far and the longer it took me the easier it would be as the wind died down. I was having a really pleasant day.

It started to rain, so I went underwater to take a picture of one of my favorite things in the world, rain drops hitting the sea seen from underneath. I tried to get myself in the photo also, the whole thing only sort of worked. And that was when my battery died, so I only had the one shot.

I was a little chilly after my dip so I hit the gas to warm up and soon arrived in the small Italian village of Scario where no one waited for me. I found a water spigot and a bar that let me use their electricity recharge my camera and computer.

I prepped to bum it for the night.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="2707,2708,2709,2710,2711,2712,2713,2714,2715,2716,2717,2718,2719,2720,2721,2722,2723,2724,2725,2726,2727,2728,2729,2730,2731,2732,2733,2734,2735,2736,2737,2738,2739,2740,2741,2742,2743,2744,2745,2746,2747,2748,2749,2750,2751,2752,2753,2754,2755,2756,2757,2758,2759,2760,2761,2762,2763,2764,2765,2766,2767,2768,2769,2770,2771,2772,2773"]

Nautical miles paddled: 8.5

Miles since Naples: 98.5

Current Location: 40.053164,15.492871

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting out the Storm

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A day of bad weather passed.  I watched waves explode against the rocks below my balcony leaving tendrils of mist to blow away in the breeze.  I’m staying at Hotel Calanca where the staff is really great, but after a day of sitting around I was ready to paddle, even if the sea was still a little rough.

I went down to the port, and after talking with some folk down there, got in my boat and began to paddle the seven miles to the next town.  Five or six people had heard my story and came to see me off.

I would be paddling into a force four headwind.  It’s the largest I let myself paddle into and I won’t do more than a few miles under it.  That’s why my destination was Scaurio, only seven miles away.

I secured my winged paddle under my deck bungees and set off with my storm paddle which is better suited for paddling against heavy headwinds.

My onlookers pointed out that I had a hard day’s paddle ahead of me and I told them that if I thought it was too rough I would turn around and come back.  I didn’t think that would happen.  The fellow told me he’ll see me in twenty minutes.  I joked, undoubtedly five.

I left the port.  The waves were at least two meters high, twice as high as my head.  But they weren’t waves so much as chop.  Coming from the sea, bouncing off the rocks, or seeming to pop up right under me, they left me a little nervous.  I could paddle farther out on more regular swells, but then I wouldn’t have any shelter against the wind.  Even near the cliffs, when ever I crested a wave I felt the blast on face.

I turned around, very cautiously so as not to capsize or get run into the cliffs. And I paddled back to the port.  I had been out for about twenty minutes.

The town invited me to stay another night and the port guys who were entertained by my plight assured me the weather would be better the next day.

I was already suited up so I practiced my rolls and taught myself a new one called a shotgun roll where in I hold my storm paddle with one hand and secure an end in my armpit.  I also nailed some hand rolls, and then missed some.

Hand rolls, that is rolling without a paddle, are one of my projects. Last summer I was getting them all, but this summer I somehow lost it.  Hopefully with enough days like today I’ll have them back by the time I finish my trip.  I’d like to get certified to train instructors for the ACA when this is over, and I’ll need both exceptional kayaking skills and exceptional teaching skills.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 70


Saturday night I looked at the weather.  Sunday morning was expecting perfect kayaking weather, Sunday night, a storm.  And in between, the glassy morning waters and idyllic conditions would dissolve into chaos.  

At first I wasn’t sure if I would go out at all.  The calm before the storm is no time to mess around.  But it would be calm, or so the forecast insisted.  And as for the storm, I have mad skills so long as I have the energy to use them.  I could leave early and paddle for a few hours, that way I would most likely have smooth sailing and if not, I wouldn’t be out for so long that my body would go into calorie debt leaving my mind in the dark places and my skills in the dust.  Also, while proceeding days of the storm would bring a headwind, Sunday would bring a tailwind so it was now or Thursday.

The mayor had told me he would find me a place to stay the next night also and I thought, Pisciotta looked good.  A distance of about 10 nautical miles was just right for a half day.

“I can help you for Marina di Camerota.”  He told me.

I looked at my map.  Marina di Camerota was 20 nautical miles away, if I hugged the coast, farther. I would most likely finish with a substantial tailwind.  I would make great time, but be exhausted ... when I arrive at my hotel.

My alarm clock goes off at 5:00am every morning.  But in anticipation of the trials ahead I woke at 4:20 and I was in my kayak paddling two hours later.

The sun rose behind clouds over mountains.  I passed a shadowy tower that stood over a dark fallow. Then I left shoreline to cross a bay about five miles out.

At first small waves and wind came from the mainland land with an occasional set of larger swells coming from the sea.  But gradually the frequency of the swells increased and the wind joined them.

There was about twenty minutes in the middle where the forces seemed to be even and the water was glassy smooth.  Then another set of swells came.  The wind picked up, and more swells.

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From there on I had my tailwind and waves shoving me along.  I was able to surf some.  And before long I was at the cliffs at the end of the bay.

Tall, sheer, and vibrantly black, grey, white, and orange, they were covered far above me by wild grass and a few trees.  Tough bushed clung tenaciously to there rocky faces.  There were at least four or five sea caves large enough to invite a kayak, but conscious as I was of the worsening conditions and weary of the dangers of a large swell catching me inside, I passed near but did not enter.

Around the corner the wind was powerful and coming off off the cliffs in what I suspect was a vertical eddie.  The blast grabbed the top of my paddle repeatedly and wrestled with me for control.  Bult I held strong and pushed forward.  Once I was around the point, the wind died down substantially.

[gallery type="slideshow" ids="2621,2622,2623,2624,2625,2626,2627,2628,2629"]


I was tired, oh so tired.  Maybe I had been a little lax and not eaten quite enough.  In anticipation of the weather I ate my pasta first and switched to my chia seeds as the conditions worsened.  I guess it was important that I switch off every hour mixing things up to maintain a more even calorie intake.

The last few miles I passed jagged black and white rock formations on the shore and islands.  The sea changed from a dark blue to a light blue and a steady tail breeze helped me into port.

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I spoke with Stephano and he made some calls.  The city of Marina di Camerota was happy to put me in a hotel for the next few days of storm.  Never did I imagine that I would be kayaking in such style.  For now, thanks to Dr Bronner’s, my clothes are clean, my pots and nalgenes are clean, and I smell nice.  I have a warm bed.  How can life be so good?  How long can expect it to last?

Nautical miles paddled: 20

Miles since Naples: 90

Current location: 39.999495,15.37572

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 69


Friday morning I woke at 5:00 am.  I went out to look at the waves.  They were breaking under a meter high.  I would launch.

Not so fast, my kayak was full of sand.  All that time sitting around doing nothing, now that the sea was calm, I had to clean out my boat.

By 8:00 I was sitting in my boat in the estuary.  Where the the river met the sea the current was moving out fast.  I watched the waves to time my exit with flatter water.

It seemed like my moment had come, I sprinted out of the estuary with the current shooting me into the surf.  I cut through the first wave with the froth passing over my deck belly high paddled hard ignoring the sudden chilliness of it.  The second wave was shoulder high and tried to knock me down to the right.  I arched my back and turned the end of my forward stroke into a skull as I dropped my head down near the water to lower my center of gravity and recovered.  Another two sprinting strokes and I was beyond the waves.

For the first couple of hours I paddled on two to three foot swells that could have put a baby to sleep.  I was paddling from the center of bay to the edge.  I could see Agropoli in the corner about five miles away.  A large rock precipice reached into the sea and an old Italian village sat on top of it.

A head wind picked up, when I stopped for one of my snacks I was moving backwards at half a knot.  At the end of every hour I stopped for a snack.  I switched between my super nutritious thick chia gruel with seven ounces of chia seeds to a full one liter nalgene and my whole wheat pasta and lentil nalgene.  At each break I would consume one quarter of a nalgene, being newly hyperalert to the benefits of eating right while on the water.  

I was tired, but I stayed away from that dark place where every stroke feels like moving a mountain and I begin to worry that I’m not having fun.  That place where I don’t have enough energy to cry.  

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I was tired, but not in the dark place.  At the point, I stopped in a tiny marina with three or four row boats for my end of the hour break and I got out to stretch my legs.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATen minutes later I was back on my way, and for the rest of the day the water was wonderfully glassy flat.  It was so clear I could see the bottom far beneath me and a school of tiny fish swam along.

The forest was fresh, fragrant, and took some of the humidity out of the air.  Trees twist up from the rocks and I passed a couple of families sitting in their shade enjoying the day as much as I was.[gallery type="slideshow" ids="2502,2503,2504,2505,2506,2507,2508,2509,2510,2511"]


I arrived in Acciaroli.  I wanted to find a place to stay for the sabbath.  The captain’s office was closed, but there was a shipyard with equipment for lifting yachts out of the water and making major repairs to larger boats.  I introduced myself to the folk in the office.  They were pleased to meet me.  I showed them my blog, they were duly impressed.

They had a bathroom with electrical outlets and a shower.  If I could sleep next to my boat and use their facilities it would be a perfect sabbath.

“Could I please leave my kayak here for a couple of nights?”  I asked.

“How long is it?” The woman at the desk asked me.

Oh no!  It was the bad question.  It’s the question that says, “I don’t understand that your boat is only 19.6 inches wide and weighs 18 kilo empty.

No, they couldn’t bring an 18 foot boat into their yard because another boat might need to use the repair ramp while I was putting in or taking out.  I tried to explain, I tried to help her to understand, I said thank you very much and left dejected.

I explored.  The port was a big place without that many boats.  I found an open bathroom.  It was clean.  There was a hot shower.  Holy cow. A free public hot shower.  Praise be the name of this city that I’m in.  Here in Southern Italy is the pinnacle of civilization, the height of human achievement, a truly wonderful place.

I went to gather my gear, I would make camp on the pier near the bathroom.  On my way I asked people if they knew where the Lega Navale was, since for all its wonder, a roof over my head would be a step up from a port near the shower.

One man said he would help me.  His hair was slicked back.  His shirt was tucked into his jeans, and he seemed eager to find me a place to stay.  He began making calls insisting to me that somewhere in this town there must be a “room you can stay in.”.

I was a little worried.  I didn’t know what he was doing hanging around the waterfront, but he didn’t say anything about himself so it could have easily been that he was up to no good.  A friend of his showed up and they spoke in Italian.  The man introduced Stephano to me, as the mayor here.  He then took me to a hotel where I spent a wonderful sabbath.

Nautical Miles paddled: 21.5

Total since Naples: 70

Current location: 40.177902,15.02596

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nailed Down

Thursday 11/6/2013

The last three days I’ve been staying in the campground on account of the wind and waves.  Two nights ago the wind died down, but the waves are still enormous.  Tomorrow the waves should also die down and I’ll be on my way, but Sunday more bad weather is due.  Hopefully I’ll get past this.  The last time I paddled in this part of Italy it was February and the weather was great, if a bit chilly.

After my talk on nutrition with the ultramarathon runner and my own experience on day 68, the importance of eating right while out there has been driven home.  And it’s hard to eat right when an errant wave might capsize me any moment my paddle is down.

My Chief Logistical Coordinator pointed out that I drink hands free, maybe I should try one of those food powder drinks.  It was a good idea.  My cousin from Goodness Gracious Living has taken on the role of Vice President of Nutritional Engineering and will hopefully be able to come up with something, though I’m certainly open to any ideas from the crowd.

Yesterday I went back to Naples to pick up a package of chia seeds which I can drink with water.  They’re a high calorie food with lots of nutritional goodness and will hopefully help me solve my energy problem, if only I get back on the water.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 68

Sunday 11/4/2013

Content warning - this post is not for the frail. Mom, you should probably skip it.

I packed up my things and was on the water by 7:00.  I was expecting moderate winds to push me inland as I made the 24 nautical mile crossing to Agropoli.  That was farther than I would have liked to go given the weather, but worse weather was coming and if I was going to get nailed down on account of winds, I’d rather it be a place with a shower.

At first, the wind and waves weren’t so bad and I made good time.  They gradually got worse.  The side wind evolved into a head wind slowing my pace.

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My breaks for snacks at the end of each hour got shorter and shorter as the risk of me capsizing while eating lunch increased with the wave height.  I’m more than stable enough while I’m holding my paddle, that’s what skills are all about.  But when I put my paddle down to eat, I have a problem.  And as I ate less, I got more and more tired, and slowed down even more.

I had to pee.  I keep a cut off bottle in my cockpit.  I open my skirt, fill it up, and dump it out.  Half way into the ritual a surprise wave hit me.  I tried to scull with one hand on my winged paddle, but it only worked for a moment before the blades angle caught the water wrong and I capsized.  Under water I admired the beautiful crystal blue shade of the sea around my cockpit began to flood.

I rolled back up and took my pump out from under my seat.  My pump requires at least one hand and that’s with some difficulty.  Just as I finished getting the water out, with my skirt still open, another wave capsized me.

I repeated the process, noticing that I was at least five miles from land.  I wonder how long I could keep this up before pressing my panic button.  I had my skirt on as much as possible while pumping.

I finished and got my skirt back on.

I paddled for a while longer, losing strength with every stroke, when I realized I never finished peeing.  Well, I had enough problems without needing to pee, and I certainly wasn’t going to take my skirt off in the worsening conditions that had been joined by occasional downpours and mounting gusts.

I peed in my boat while I paddled.  I figured when I arrived at my destination I’d perform a wet exit and get everything good and wet with sea water. At least I was still unzipped under there from my previous efforts.

I was twelve miles out from Amalfi, I had 12 miles left to go.  According to my GPS, at my current average pace, I would arrive at 16:30.  If the wind increased as it had been doing all day, maybe later.  I was only half way, and thoroughly exhausted.

I had another option.  There was a river that went into the sea that I had marked the location of.  Rivers can be good places to take out since they are often flat when the sea is rough.  It was only seven miles away.  I didn’t really know what to expect since I had saved the location on my GPS for an emergency take out over a month earlier.  I was ready to get off the water.

I changed course.  The last few miles were a struggle.  I was thoroughly exhausted.

Rivers often create sandbars that result in bigger waves, and this river was flowing strong right up to the narrow mouth.  As I approached an enormous wave picked me up and launched me forward.  I edged my boat into the wave and executed a stern pry with my paddle to try to steer towards the mouth of the river.  The sandy breaking frothing water passed under me and I was not on target, so I tried to sprint towards the river mouth before the next wave could throw me onto the beach.

I don’t know if I was imagining that my sprint was nothing more than a crawl, or if in fact I was so weakened by the day’s ordeal that my progress was just pitiful, but when the next giant hit, I wasn’t close enough to surf into the river.

I turned the boat so that it was facing towards the beach as the wave caught me.  My stern went up.  Around me was a wall of frothing chaos that heaved me forward.  My bow went down, into the sand, and caught.  My stern was hurled forward over me and I prayed that the water wasn’t so shallow I’d land on my head.

I landed in the water.  I tried to roll up on the down wave side* unsuccessfully.  Rather than switch sides, I wet exit.  I figured I’d need to get out in a moment at the beach anyways.

I came up and looked around.  I was farther out than I had realized.  I began to swim through the surf towing my kayak.  Even without swimming, the waves would most likely have pushed me towards shore, but I didn’t want to test the theory.

My booties were not zipped up since it was hot in the kayak, now in the water as I kicked hard I almost kicked them off.  I put them back on, kicked some more, and almost kicked them off.  I stopped, as the wild sea shoved me and my boat to and fro, and zipped up my booties.

A fisherman on the shore was getting ready to jump in and save me. I gave him the OK sign with my hands.  I was doing just fine thank you very much, but not so fine that I could save a drowning fisherman and my kayak.  If it hadn’t been such a long day, maybe, but it was so I did everything I could to communicate that he should not come in.

I finished swimming to shore and he grabbed my boat to help me drag it through the sand.  I tried to stop that also as the finish was scratched right off, but to no avail.  The man was, after all, a hero.

I stood still and rested.

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The man offered to let me use his phone, he assumed mine was bust.  My phone was busted, it turned out, which was strange since it was dry, in a dry bag, in a dry bag that was tied into my cockpit and floating in the water during the take out.

I looked around.  I guessed I would camp on the desolate garbage strewn beach.  Then make the eight mile journey to Agropoli on the next day.

There was something on the other side of the river.  There might be water there, or a bathroom. The river water was dark and moving fast, but at the mouth only fifteen feet across or so.  I figured I could ford it without to much trouble.

I checked with the hero.  He said it was impossible.  The river was very deep.  He helped me carry my kayak to a spot where the river calmly and gently eddied.  He told me there was camping on the other side of the river.  Camping was good and hopefully not expensive.

I paddled across to a small beach where another fisherman said ciao.

There was camping, a trailer lot with a few trailers and a couple of people wandering about.  There was a shower, and an electrical outlet, and a wifi connection.  There were nice dogs wandering about. I ate a couple of pomegranates off of a tree and my phone started working the moment I plugged it in.

I made myself comfortable.When the manager showed up a few hours later, I told him my story.  He put me in a camper, told me I could stay until the weather was perfect, and he wouldn’t charge me] a dime.  I was his guest.  He was righteous.  He gave me some shampoo for the shower.

If you're ever in this part of Italy, wherever I am, there’s a really nice trailer park here.  A beautiful river goes out to the sea.  It’s a good place for sunsets.

*The wrong side.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="2385,2386,2387,2388,2389,2390"]

Nautical miles paddled: 19

Total since Naples:  58.5

Current location: 40.481459,14.944098

Day 67


My host gave me a ride down to the port. This time in his car.

The next big port was Amalfi, about 17 nautical miles. The Blue Grotto was 1.7 nautical miles in the opposite direction. To paddle there would add three miles onto an already long day. After the previous days trauma, I decided to skip it.

On the ride down my host asked me if I was going to the Blue Grotto.

“Is it really nice?” I asked him.

“Yes, it's really nice.”

“Well, I guess I'll go then.”

He told me that only paying customers were allowed in on the designated row boats. If I went on my own, I'd have to be out before opening time at 8:45 to avoid trouble, and if anyone asked, I didn't hear it from him.

On the pier a couple of fisherman, a dockworker, and a policeman gathered to watch me prepare my food for the day and pack my things into my hatches. One man asked me, “Are you going to the Blue Grotto?”

“If I were, I wouldn't admit it with a policeman right here.” I told him. “I understand you need a ticket.”

The policeman fished through his pockets and handed me a ticket.

I was pleased to accept it.

I paddled west along the northern coast of Capri. I had a tail wind which would mean trouble later. Schools of fish leaped out of the water at every turn as I passed beneath towering cliffs, between rock formations that crept out from the island.

An old fisherman's motorboat cut in front of me. He was trailing a long line that I accidentally picked up with my paddle. Not wanting to get hooked, I stopped to let him get far ahead.

The cliffs were populated by strange stone shapes and holes. In one place it looked as though a gaping mutated mouth with teeth was drooling.

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Then I arrived at the entrance to the Blue Grotto. It was smaller than I realized. I watched the waves pass into the cave, sometimes almost completely covering the entrance. If I got caught by a wave like that while entering I would be mushed against the top of the opening.

A chain ran through from the cliff face outside. I switched to my storm paddle, both because I could use it one handed while the other held the chain and it wouldn't hit the ceiling above me.

I watched the waves until I felt I could time the lulls, and then pulled myself in along the chain, using my paddle to keep the boat pointed in the right direction while I dropped my head down near my back deck.

Warm air blasted over me from the cave as I slid in without getting mushed.

My eyes adjusted to the darkness. The water glowed blue. The ceiling rose overhead and the cavern was a good deal larger than the opening suggested. Warm air soothed me and I watched small fish swim in the glowing blue water that lit the cavern. A shrine had been carved in the wall at the far end where the light was weaker.

It was worth the three miles.

I said a prayer for the welfare of the traveler, recorded it on video in the hopes that it would go viral on Youtube increasing the chance god would find it, and then left the cave, hitting my head mildly on the way out.

[gallery type="slideshow" ids="2419,2420,2421,2422,2423,2424,2425,2426,2428,2429,2430,2431"]

I paddled east, staying close to the island to avoid a headwind. I passed between some tall boulders and the island.

A man from a fishing boat called out to me. He was one of the fellows who had watched me pack my boat earlier. I waved back to him.

Schools  of fish leaped out of the water.

Then I left the shelter of the island. Crossing to the mainland, I fought against the wind. Either it was stronger than what had been forecast or I had lost a lot of my gusto since the last time I dealt with a headwind, but the waves were taller than I was and rushing into my bow as I struggled to make the crossing quickly. I shot over them and then crashed down into the lull before the next wave would launch me up again.

I turned around to see Carpi behind me. The rock spires on the southern side looked even more exotic than what I had paddled past earlier, and I hope one day I'll come back to properly explore them. I lost my balance for a second while thinking about it as another wave tossed me up and dropped me down. Not so gracefully, I recovered.

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When I reached land I found a flat spot in the shelter of some cliffs and stopped to rest. There was a blow hole there, that is, a hole in the cliff that water washed into and out of. Sometimes, an enormous amount of water would blast out of the hole in an explosive display of pressure released. I tried to record it on my camera. Just after my camera's battery went dead, there was another blast.

For the next few hours I paddled between islands and the mainland against a headwind. I was tired and making slow progress. I stopped to investigate a sea cave, but once back out on the water my spirits dropped.

I asked some scuba divers how much farther the Amalfi, my destination. They were diving next to a row boat under an island with a single house at the top of a cliff.

They looked shock that I was going that far. It's all the way around the bend. It's at least 20, 25 kilometers.

I continued on, further disheartened. Then the headwind slowed and I picked up speed and spirits. Then it stopped all together. The water turned glassy, and while I my body ached, I began to smile and paddle at a good pace.

When I arrived in Amalfi, two hours later than I had hoped, it was with a grin on my face. An effort had been made to hook me up with some hospitality, and I didn't know if the effort had been successful so I kept my eyes open as I pulled into the port.

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Amalfi is an ancient town built on the side of a mountain. The roads are narrow and the sidewalks are mostly stairs and well above them. The lowest level is a touristy area around the port. And from in front of a restaurant, people were calling me.

I was pleased to be expected and paddled over towards them. Only they weren’t expecting me, an older fellow had dropped his hat in the water and now it sat at the bottom of the clear blue sea. Could I use my paddle to get it for him?

I tried, unsuccessfully. I tried capsizing to see if I could reach the hat with my hands while I was underwater. At least six feet down if not more, it was too deep.

“I'll make a deal with you.” I called up to the crowd on the restaurants porch. “If I get your hat, will you let me keep my boat here for a couple of nights?”

“Yah, it's not a problem.” They checked with the restaurants owner.

I got out of my boat and swam to the bottom, rescuing the hat, to great applause.

For the sabbath, I set up camp on the beach in the spot I was promised.

The thick lush forest, towering mountains, and mind boggling cliffs around Amalfi are amongst the most beautiful natural wonders I've seen in my life. I spent Saturday exploring the trails around the city. Streams rush everywhere. There's a cliff that’s hundreds of feet high, covered with moss and a waterfall.

An ice cold stream rushes through a ravine while water pores  down the moss on the cliff face sides.  Trees far overhead shade the tranquil shrine.

I started exploring by myself and found some wild goats, but not long after I arrived at a dead end and was ready to give up. Some Italians passed me and one of them spoke some English. Sure, I could join them.

They got to the same dead end, but a quick cell phone call told us we were on the wrong side of the valley. We went back into the town and entered the mountains from a different direction, passing a donkey climbing stairs on the way.

Then, deep in the woods, we met up with a middle aged Australian couple that had a map, so I switched to hike with them. The Italians I hiked with were smoking cigarettes and complaining about the stairs. These Australians were climbing with vim and with vigor and flip flops, and why not, Pam is an ultra marathon runner.

As we hiked through the clouds I questioned her tirelessly. She was the first such woman of legend that I had met. The sort of person who could run 100 miles in a single outing, very nearly a god.

“What do you eat?” “How do train?” “Explain, elaborate, what do you think about this and that and the other?” She was patient, and helpful. Her advice was good, and I was happy. I went into the woods, and found everything I was looking for, and then some.

Miles paddled: 22.5

Total since Naples: 39.5

Current location:  40.632036,14.598007

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 66


I don’t celebrate Halloween


My alarm went off this morning at 5:00, as I intend for it to do most mornings depending on how far I intend to paddle.

I packed my gear, made breakfast, and cleaned up Corrado’s sail boat to say one final goodbye.

I met Corrado by my kayak, I packed, and by 8:30 we were out.  He in his sailboat, and me in my Inuk.  He took pictures, lots of pictures.

I left Napoli.  I left the comfort of a warm shower and bed every night.  I left the kayaking community there that I had come to be fond of, and all the people at the Lega Navale who were kind to me beyond reason.  I left the land of mozzarella.

There was an enormous American aircraft carrier in the bay.  Corrado took some pictures of me with it in the background, and then I left him behind too.  I was sad to see him leave.

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I was thrilled to be on my way.  “Woot!”  I yelled out to the empty sea around me.

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The green waves were trying to turn me to the left as I headed on a bearing 185 degrees south towards the famous Blue Grotto of Capri.  It was about two miles out of the way, but I thought, well worth it.

Gradually, Capri began to appear out of the haze that was the weather of the day as Napoli disappeared into it.

I expected to paddle about five hours, and much of the way with little or no wind I maintained a pace of over 3.5 knots, which was satisfying.  I had some water and food strapped down to my kayak just behind the cockpit, and I stopped to snack the last five minutes of every hour, just as I had on the first leg.

Only something was different.

I was getting sea sick.  I wasn’t eating a lot of food, but it was too much.  Most likely, this was the result of getting older and not training enough.  Oh well, it wasn’t the first time exercise made me nauseous.  The rule for when I’m running is that I run hard until I puke, then I can stop.  The rule for kayaking is - good luck.

I got to the last five minutes of my third hour.  I did not snack, as I usually do, but did have some water.  Then I opened my spray skirt to take out my GPS and measure my progress.  New kayak smell poured out of my cockpit.  With all haste, I closed the skirt over the rim, but I was not fast enough.

I puked, mostly water, some lentils and some pasta.  I felt better, if weakened.

I continued paddling to the Blue Grotto.  A head wind picked up.  The waves got higher and white caps began to sparkle on the crystal clear ultramarine blue sea.

Between the energy I lost and the new conditions, my speed dropped.  I paddled for another half an hour, then changed course towards the marina to cut off a couple of miles.

When I arrived, the folk there were happy to let me park my boat and leave it for the night.  I used their wifi to start writing this story.

Capri is an island bursting with enormous cliff faces.  A thick nearly tropical forest flows down the mountains covering every spot it can in a sea of lush green.  From the woods, here and there, are vineyards and old houses that coalesce in a picturesque town center that’s saturated with gardens and entirely free of broken glass.


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I noticed much of this as my host for the evening, a local sailing instructor and racer, rushed me up the nearly vertical roads of the town on the back of his motorbike with a mild disregard for traffic signs.  The road swerved, and we did with it.  The haze had lifted. I could see the ultramarine sea and the mountains and villages of the mainland with Napoli stretching out in the distance.

My other host was also from the yacht club here in Capri, which I'm told is one of the most competitive racing clubs.  He enjoyed sprinkling are conversation with Hebrew sayings he’d picked up along the way.. And they generously put me up in a hotel. I'd like to live one day in a place this pretty, but tomorrow I leave for every day there will be new people, new sights and wonders.

Miles paddled:17

Current location: 40.555801,14.24383


Kayak Arrival


Yesterday I was sitting in the Lega Navale on the 2nd floor sending emails looking for sponsors.

I heard cheering and shouting from down below.  I could make out the words “kayak” and “canoa.” I went downstairs and was greeted by more cheering.  I was joyously informed by a member of the crowd that had gathered, that my kayak had arrived.

A found the delivery man in a blue jumpsuit.  He was surprised to be such a center of attention.  I followed him to his truck and was asked to sign for my kayak.

“Not until I see it.”  I said, pointing at my eyes.

He opened the back of the truck and there was an 18 foot kayak-shaped object wrapped in plastic and styrofoam.

I signed for my kayak.

With help, I carried it down to the water.  It weighed next to nothing, even with all the wrapping.

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I unwrapped it and put it on the water.

The Lega Navale guy who’s always around brought champagne.

As I got in, everyone applauded and cheered.



I got back out, the foot rests were too tight and I couldn’t fit.  I tried adjusting them myself, but had a little bit of trouble since my arms aren’t long enough, so the Lega Navale guy who’s always around did it for me.


I kayaked for a couple of hours bringing a private celebration with me.

 The boat was exactly like the one I had trained in.  I had asked for different colors, but overall I’m thrilled to begin.

Today I took care of last minute preparations.  I glued a light holder and compass to my boat.

Tomorrow morning, I launch.

Thank god.

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The Motorcycle and the IPad

I was walking along a busy street near the port.  Broken glass was everywhere, but I was wearing flipflops that were given to me by one of my friends at the Lega Navale.  The flip flops chafe.

A speeding motorcycle pulled to a short stop beside me.

“Hello, I sell you this.  You like?”  the motorcyclist shoved an iPad in front of me.

“No thanks.”  I told him.

He thought I was bargaining.  “200 euro.”  He told me.

I balked. “I don’t think so.”

“How much?”  he asked.

“Much much less than that.”  I said.  “Besides, it’s probably stolen and will stop working in five minutes.

“It’s not stolen, you see, it works well.”  He showed me how well it works.  “How much?”

“I’m really not interested.”

“How much?”  He asked me again.

I caved since he said it wasn’t stolen.  “50 euro.”

“Okay, I give it to you for 50 euro.”  He pushed the iPad at me.

I still didn’t want it.  I didn’t think he would agree.  “I really don’t want it.”  I told him.

“How much?”

I think for 20 euro I would have taken it.  “20 euro.”  I told him.

“Hah, next you’ll want me to give it to you.”  He was insulted, the nerve of some people.

I walked away and this time he let me go.

If I were faster at thinking on my feet, what would I have done differently?  I kind of wish I had taken it from him by force and used the information on the iPad to return it to the rightful owner.  Maybe it’s for the best I can’t go back and redo things, but not for the poor fellow who’s iPad was stolen.

The Doctor and the Glass


The Doctor and a Lega Navale fellow who’s around a lot were sitting in front of me.

The Doctor smile, “Hi Dov, how are you?”

“Buona, come stai?” [Good, how are you?]

The Doctor had promised me the day before, for the n-th time, that tomorrow he would take the glass out of my foot.  Like every time before that, I believed him.  But this time, there was extra hope, because the day before he saw the x ray results.

“So can we get the glass out of my foot?”  I asked him.

“It is not so simple.”  He told me.  “You can not do this here, we must do this at the hospital.”

“Okay, when can we go?”

He talked to the Lega Navale regular for a while in Italian about my foot.  I didn’t catch very much since my Italian is most limited to “Come stai?” and if the answer is anything other than “Buono” I have a problem.

“If you have the surgery, you will not be able to go kayaking afterwards for a long time.  I think ten days.  There is lots of bacteria in the sea.”

Over the last week there’s been very little pain in my foot.  Sometimes I feel a dull ache when I stand on it.

“If I don’t get surgery I’ll probably cut it out on my own and go kayaking the same day.”

“You should not do this.  Leave it in, and if you have a problem, go to a hospital.”

“If I have a problem in Turkey, I may not have access to a hospital.”  I told him.  I wanted the glass out.

“I think you should leave it in.”

Damn.  I guess I’ll have to wait until I get to Israel.  The doctor says I’ll probably be fine.  The Lega Navale regular says plenty of people live with shrapnel in them.