Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Day 159

6/29-30/2014

At 23:00 I woke, gathered my things, and returned through the darkness passed the ruined city to my kayak. The back hatch was full of water. How had that happened? It was likely the result of a serious leak. If the enormous quantity of water had seeped into my boat in the last mile then there was no way I could make the crossing. Who knew when my next weather window would be.

I used my cooking pot to load the back compartment with sea water, dug sand out from underneath and examined the hull closely with a flashlight. I didn’t find a leak. Should I risk the crossing?

An hour later I was paddling in the dark. My weather window was short and depending on which forecast came true I might face an additional hour of bad weather at the end of my day.

With my headlamp on I was able to follow the bearing on my compass. No moon shone. This was the first time I used this deck light. It was dead in half an hour. The entire world was reduced to my small pool of light which rose and fell with the black water. I wanted dawn to come soon, but the wanting slowed time to crawl. Minutes took hours and that made me want all the more. I couldn’t see the waves, there was only my compass, my paddles pulling at the blackness, and me.

I turned my headlamp off and as my eyes began to adjust picked out the star closest to my bow. The problem with following the star was that my bow may have moved between when I turned my headlamp off and my eyes adjusted, so I repeated the star choosing a few more times before I was comfortable with my choice. Since I was heading almost due south, my star shouldn’t move that much in the remaining few hours of night.

Without my headlamp, the world opened up to me. The sea and sky were no longer black, but shades of grey with size and depth. Brilliant lightning shot out from my bow and paddles as they sliced through the water. White caps were white and I was in control, both of myself and my boat. I ate whole grain bread sticks that one of my friends in Alanya had bought for me and I saved for the crossing. I burst with energy and a song sprung forward.

“To sail on a dream on a crystal clear ocean,
To ride on the crest of a wild raging storm
To work in the service of life and living,
In search of the answers of questions unknown
To be part of the movement and part of the growing,
Part of beginning to understand,

Aye Calypso the places you've been to,
The things that you've shown us,
The stories you tell
Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit,
The men who have served you so long and so well

Hi dee ay-ee ooo doo-dle oh
Oo do do do do do doo-dle ay yee
Doo-dle ay ee

Like the dolphin who guides you, you bring us beside you
To light up the darkness and show us the way
For though we are strangers in your silent world
To live on the land we must learn from the sea
To be true as the tide and free as a wind swell
Joyful and loving in letting it be

Aye Calypso the places you've been to,
The things that you've shown us,
The stories you tell
Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit,
The men who have served you so long and so well

Hi dee ay-ee ooo doo-dle oh
Oo do do do do do doo-dle ay yee
Doo-dle ay ee“

I was thrilled. This was it. I was finishing my expedition. Two thousand five hundred nautical miles, one hundred and fifty nine days on the water and much more dealing with logistics in the field and waiting for the weather. And now, it was all coming to a climax. I sang loudly, victoriously, joyfully, as though I didn’t still have nine hours ahead of me.

The sky in the east began to lighten and eventually I could read my compass. The sun rose and a small bright green turtle ahead dove deep in the clear water.

To save energy I decided I would not roll to cool off while paddling. I could stay cool by filling my hat up with water and dumping it on my head. My long sleeve shirt protects me from the sun and keeps me cool when wet, though once it dries out it insulates. Since much of the crossing was at night and early morning I decided sun protection was less critical than keeping cool, so I paddled without a shirt. It turns out, my shirt protects me from akuilisaq chafing. It wasn’t bad, and had I only been out for the regular six to eight hours it would not have been a problem. But the chafing at five different locations on my body was bad and getting worse. With each passing hour I had less skin and more raw sweaty wounds torn wider and deeper.

Some 15 miles from land a common tern approached, flew four tight circles around me and headed off. A few moments later it came back and after two more turns left for good.

I checked my GPS every hour to make sure I was on schedule and on course. My course was fine. In the last hour I paddled only two nautical miles. Something was very wrong. There were two possible explanations for the slow progress: Icarus was sinking or I was fighting a current.

I could open up her back hatch, check and potentially save my kayak before everything was lost. The maneuver would entail a large risk. Opening the back hatch to begin with was not a good idea, but more than that, in order to see what was going on I would have to remove my sleeping bag backpack that was thoroughly wedged in. It was not a task smoothly performed on land and I could only guess how it would go while swimming next to the boat. My guess was not optimistic.

I decided to keep on paddling. I rocked Icarus to see if I could feel the water. I didn’t, but how sure could I be that I would? I was pretty sure, but I was also tired, and being tired affects one's judgment. I now had an ongoing eye on my GPS’s speedometer. I was paddling between 1.5 and 2.5 knots, about a knot and a half slower than I liked.

I recalled the power of my GPS. I stopped my boat. As far as I could see, there was only the calm deep blue water and cloudless sky. But my GPS told me the secret my senses would not. I was moving north at about 1.5 knots.

My boat was not sinking, which meant the problem could not be solved except by turning back or heading on. If I continued at this pace I would run out of drinking water potentially a couple of hours before I finished. If I turned back I could return to the launch in good time if the current persisted. If it did not I would run out of drinking water.

I pushed on.

I had to poop. I would finish in a few hours. I could hold it.

The current died down. I was only two hours behind schedule.

My chia maca gogo juice ran out. My breadsticks ran out. I switched to the white bread I had with me. It tasted like bread fungus. Maybe that was a reflection on my exhausted state. The bread was fresh yesterday. I threw it out, if I ate it and I puked I would be worse off.

I did not want to hold my poop anymore. I set up a paddle float and scooted onto my back deck. I aimed my butt over the side. More or less sitting up, my balance was precarious. I got most of it directly into the water. The technique was not elegantly done, but that’s what happens when you try something at sea unpracticed.

Eleven miles from my destination I got my first glimpse through the haze at three Cypriot peaks. They vanished. But at least I knew I was on target. A few days earlier I saw Cyprus from Turkey, I had hoped to see it as early as dawn.

At seven miles I made out the headland I was aiming for, dead ahead.

Without food, those last two hours were hard. The closer I got to the end, the more I struggled for each stroke, the more the chafing gnawed into me, the harder I tried to force my mind to numb the pain. No breaks! Just keep paddling! Just go. Why can’t you just go. No stopping, not even for a moment.

A man on the beach waved to me.

The shore was rocky, but the water was shallow. I dropped out of my boat with an inelegant splash, and Haris, my new best friend, picked it up with me and we climbed ashore.

I rejoiced and thanked my god for seeing me through to the end of my quest in good health.* I had landed in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. My expedition was over and I was safe.

 

*His plan apparently did not include dental.

 

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5271,5270,5272,5269,5268"]

 

Nautical miles paddled: 37.5
Current location: 35.403896,32.920688

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Prepping

6/29/2014

While loading my boat in the morning to paddle to my launch point, a middle aged man who’d seen me around introduced himself. Once he heard my story he offered to help me with anything I needed, anything at all, he and his apartment were at my service.

I paddled about a mile to a beach just shy of the rocky outcropping that is the southernmost tip of Turkey. Three hooligans sat in the narrow sliver of shade thrown by rocky outcropping and smoked a bong. Outside of their small shelter the sand was undoubtedly foot-cooking hot.

The plan was to land and then make my way on foot to the hospitality of my new friend. Spend the day resting, and launch at midnight for the best weather window. I tried some hand rolls, some worked, some didn’t. When I was done with my training the hooligans were still there. Oh well, maybe they were friendly. I got out and began to carry my boat across the sand. The hooligans did not offer to help. My feet pressed into the fire and were scorched. I lay my boat down in the shade of a cliff and sprinted into the sea.

There I rested and floated. All my energy had been sucked out of me by the pain. I reposed in the shallow water and small waves cradled me back and forth. As I recovered the hooligans began to chat with me. Their English was limited, but once they learned of my exploits they were excited to hear more.

A young gaunt man with running sores asked if he could try my boat. Letting people try my boat usually worked out alright since they typically capsized before getting anywhere, but Running Sore Face was short and bone thin. There was a chance he wouldn’t capsize. More than that, communication across the language barrier was hard so I couldn’t give him instructions.

I tried. I explained how he must not let the boat touch the sand or rocks, and how he must stay within ten meters of me at all times. I needed to be able to pull him up if he got trapped in the cockpit.

He understood and agreed. I held the boat while he got in then let go. He almost capsized, but panic driven effort managed to stay upright. He was having too much trouble with the paddle, so he threw it away. I swam and recovered it while he used his hands to scoot the boat out to sea.

It’s a fast boat and he’s a fast scooter. With the wind at his back, Running Sore Face was a hundred meters out in no time. He realized he had gone too far, but turning Icarus, especially without a paddle or skills, is hard. Icarus however knew which way she wanted to face. She likes to face into the wind, and so, slowly but surely, Running Sore Face managed to reverse course.

With all the speed he could muster he headed back towards the beach. I saw what he planned “Stop! Stop! Stop!” I yelled, but it was too late. He rammed her into the beach. I inspected her hull and Running Sore Face insisted she was fine. Maybe she was. After I insisted he helped my carry Icarus back to her spot in the shade.

The hooligan who spoke a little more English apologized for his friend.

“No harm done, I hope he had fun.”

He did. I believed now that they wouldn’t steal from me if I walked away. I took pictures of the Roman ruins. The hooligans walked passed me and instructed me not to take pictures of them.

I found the house of my new friend. He welcomed me in and invited me to use his kitchen, spare bedroom, shower, and refrigerator as though they were my own. He put the Simpsons on the the TV and I settled into a day of deep pre-crossing relaxation.

 

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5243,5242,5241"]

 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Decision

6/27/2014

I was invited to stay in the large back room of a beach restaurant. I passed my first day waiting for an answer from Alanya relaxing at the beach . The employees were a bunch of gracious teenagers who encouraged me to make myself comfortable and I didn't see much of the owner.

In the night men with camouflage uniforms and machine guns woke me. Two were young and stood alert and serious with their weapons at their sides. An officer, a middle aged, portly man spoke to me in English.

“Do you speak Turkish?” I was awake like lightning, said “no.” and scrambled for my passport on demand. I was escorted to the light of the kitchen where a henchman held my documents up for the Paunchy’s examination. Apparently he had not expected everything to be in order. He handed me back my passport and asked "What is the purpose of your stay here in Turkey? “ he almost chuckled, as though he already knew the answer and wanted to hear it first hand.

"I'd like to speak to a United States ambassador please, " I said a little sharply.

"What?" he asked.

"I choose not to answer your question. You've established that I am here legally. I am not breaking any law. Am I free to go? "

"Yes," he said hesitantly.

I went back to bed. The soldiers spoke with the manager.

The next day I got word from Alanya. The people there who had suggested they could escort me decided three knots was just too slow. I couldn't cross.

A man on the beach spoke English. I told him my story and he was impressed. The manager spoke to us and my new friend translated. I had to go since I was sketchy and my papers were undoubtedly not in order and he didn't want trouble with the authorities.

My new friend hosted me for a couple of days. I spent them trying to hitchhike with my boat and a sign. My trip was over, I couldn't make the crossing and to go farther East would bring me ever closer to the war in Syria.

I ate well and rested well and wasn't able to catch a ride before recapturing my confidence. The sea isn't calm every night, but it will be on Sunday. I'll launch at 23:00 and hopefully arrive 12 hours later.

It's a good thing too, because my host is ejecting me.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5242,5243,5241"]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day 158

6/25/2014

I roll often to keep my cool and to keep my skills sharp. With my winged paddle I'm trying to learn a reverse sweep and with my storm paddle to spine roll. But above all, I'm trying to recapture my lost hand roll - no, it's not sushi - it's to roll without any paddle at all. Today I nailed three out of three. I'm not past the touch and go phase, but it's really encouraging to continue to feel my skills improving.

I was, in fact, so encouraged that I thought 'Maybe I do want to try to make the crossing from Cyprus to Haifa after all.' First I need to get to Cyprus.

I've been studying the weather over the last few days out at sea. I studied the forecast for the next week. It can't be safely done solo this time of year. For four to eight hours of every day, peaking in the afternoon, strong west winds cover the sea with white caps.

I made camp at the base of a preserved Roman city, as close to Cyprus as I could get. I saw it. Beyond the wind and the waves sat an island, impervious to the afternoon tempest. Hanging victory for the foolhardy to reach for, and fall.

I found a third century bathhouse. ... It was no longer functional.

There are no sailboats here, so I won't find an escort. I wrote back to the Alanya marina and waited.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5239,5237,5236,5235,5234,5233,5232,5231,5230"]

Nautical miles paddled:14
Current location: 36.020073,32.803556

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Day 157

6/24/2014

The mountains rose from the sea.   I explored caves and said hello to sea turtles.  Past the hotels the water cleared and I watched fish swim among reefs beneath me. Monolithic islands and curling rocks slid past on either side.  The mountain forests were decorated with pink flowered bushes.   Terraced banana plantations spotted with shacks and bare walled unadorned houses rolled along the hills.  Under a Roman castle I paddled through a tunnel into a mountain lagoon. Two damsels frolicked in the paradise, one on a small beach and the other in the water.

The swimmer saw me.  Her face contorted into panic as I smiled and said hello.  With speed that comes from practice bonding with terror she shrouded her head and face in a scarf and hunched over in the water, becoming no more visible than a distant turtle.  The beach damsel smiled at me and was rebuked by the cowering sea damsel. The beach damsel had something harsh to say back and was rebuked more severely.  Slowly she began to don her scarf as well.

I felt awkward, as though I had stumbled on these fully dressed women naked snorting coke.   Maybe they were mermaids and having been discovered in their human form were under my power.  I left.

A seagull hovered just in front of me and floated on the wind.  It cawed again and again before it left.  It came back,  and insisted.  I worried it would attack me.  It hovered and cawed in front of my boat for longer than any mortal seagull could, then after a brief break on shore repeated the process a third time.  In retrospect, I did not try sufficiently to help it break the language barrier.  After a fourth and final attempt it parted for good.  I can't help but wonder what secret message was meant for my ears, and lost because I've never been very good at listening.

Yakacik is a small village with a tiny natural harbor that is home to five fishing boats and, for one night, a kayak.

Nautical miles paddled: 18
Current location: Yakacik harbor

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Day 156

6/22/2014

After two days and a Sabbath I still hadn't replaced my broken phone, camera, or Nalgene bottle. I did, however, find glasses goofy enough that they were cheap, and a sponge, and I had time to repair my boat, paddle float, vhf, and winged paddle. I was ready to leave.  I also charged my batteries and checked all my gear for the upcoming crossing to Cyprus, I was in the resor town of Alanya.

A Canadian couple living on a boat near mine invited me over for fruit smoothies every morning and a Dutch couple let me use their computer to stay in touch with my family and plan my next few days.  They all came to see me off,  take pictures, and wish me luck.

A peninsula protrudes from the center of Alanya.  It meets the sea with sharp red cliffs mounted by ancient fortifications and a long ruined Roman city.

Triple masted hotel party boats swarmed the scenic headland blasting pop music interrupted by announcements in a spread of languages.  

One of the boats was heading straight at me, hugging the cliffs almost as closely as I was. I could cut out and around, but with all the traffic, I felt safer where only I could go,  even if the hotel sea monster was trying to cut into my space.

The giant stopped and tourists began throwing pieces of bread over the gunwales from the deck and upper two stories.

A crewman minion saw me about to squeeze between the stationary boat and the cliffs.   There was enough room for me to proceed safely,  but he yelled at me not to anyways. The minions may control the beaches, but here at sea I have the right of way. 

Halfway up the cliff face aligned with the gulet’s upper stories a van-sized cave mouth caught my attention.  Above precipice stood a young shirtless man in a red bathing suit.  I paddled past and wondered what the minions were up to.

I turned the corner of the peninsula and squeezed between a smaller gulet and the wall, and then past another large one.  Towards the end of the lineup, now on the opposite side of the peninsula, a man in red shorts dived off of a moving gulet.  I watched, wondering if I was about to participate in a rescue, but with trained monkey agility he scaled the rock face and vanished.

I closed in to get a closer look.  Three small holes above four meters of rocks pierced into the earth.  Maybe a fellow on his belly could squeeze through.

I explored a large colorful cave.  I wound between shallow rocks and others that cut above the surface and sported bright orange and red growths.  Under the surface lichen shouted out with more fantastic contrasting colors.

The walls were covered with yellow and green oozing goo turned to stone over millenia.
Water dripped from the ceiling and I lay my head onto my back deck and gazed.  The cavern did not smell fresh like running water as they often do,  but rather like Harvey T's gerbil home.  Something was chirping or squeaking in the darkness above and I looked for bats.   I didn't see any, but there was another chamber that had a ground floor; maybe they were in there.

I passed crenulations and a large intact red stone tower before I cut out to sea to avoid downtown Alanya.

I'm running out of Chia seeds and what I have left is reserved for my Turkey / Cyprus crossing.  Paddling on low grade fuel is less fun.

I left the last of the hotel fortresses of evil and motorboat turtle-slaying oil-leaking sea beasts behind.  The beaches were public and the mountains free.  Some folk invited me to stop for beer, I rolled in gratitude and moved on.

I looked up at the cliffs and admired the wild beauty of the place when something just ahead of me in the water caught my attention.   A turtle surfaced and I was on a collision course.  I didn't want to startle it with and abrupt stroke, and I didn't want to hit.  So I froze and glode.  I hoped it would see me.  Maybe at the last moment it did and dived, or maybe I did hit it.  I'm not sure, but I hope and believe it was okay.

I explored one last radon red rock cave with two entrances separated by a pillar.  The setting sun illuminated the native stone and the colorful water stones that grew in the corners.

My upcoming 37.5 mile crossing will be three halves of what I did today.  I hope I'm up for it. I hope the weather is good.  As with my other long crossings,  it'll be where the distance is shortest and the bottleneck can make for rough conditions.

Many years ago someone half built a marina in Gazipasa.  The outer sea walls were solid, but inside there were no pontoons or sidewalks beyond the concrete edges of the harbor, just dirt, weeds, and a handful* of half finished buildings.

Folk passed me making camp on the dock and to the friendly ones I told my story.  I could answer some of the frequent  questions across the language barrier,  but mostly communication was an uphill battle.

I'm approaching Eastern Turkey, past the edge of the earth.

*Titan hands.

Nautical miles paddled: 25
Current location: North corner of Gazipasa marina

Monday, July 21, 2014

Day 155

6/18/2014

I slept on a bunk in the back room of a watersports center, my host was in his own a few feet over.  I woke and felt good, like I could do anything.  Icarus, however could not.  A close examination revealed that the hull-tearing reefs from a couple days earlier had worked their anger out on her underbelly.

After repairs I asked my host where I could buy a loaf of bread for my day.  He insisted on giving me the loaf he had planned on having for breakfast.  He wouldn’t hear of letting me go to the market for just one loaf.

I examined the paddle float I keep under my seat.  Both chambers were leaking.  I placed it in my front compartment and hoped I’d remember to patch it before I needed it.  I didn’t bother to replace it with my backup, after all, a real kayaker need only re-enter and roll.

I also keep a sponge in my cockpit.  I bought it in Symi to replace my old one that had begun to break up.  It was more efficient, and used to be alive.  I really liked that sponge.

I loaded both of my Nalgenes with chia maca gogo juice and clipped them in by the caps.  My Nalgenes are some of the most utilitarian gear I have.  They store my food and give me energy while I paddle. They also provide extra flotation in a tight spot. I love my Nalgenes.

I also keep a quick bag grab with more emergency gear in there.  Everything is tied in, except for the sponge because I use it often and the string gets in the way.  I used to tie it in, but hardly bother anymore.

Feeling good, I paddled hard, tirelessly, and fast.  I don’t remember the last time I felt so good at a strong pace.  Hills and cliffs replaced the beach and broke up the line of horrendous hotels.  Caves bore into the cliffs and I paddled into a couple with chambers large enough for several boat lengths.  I found colors.  Green and yellow stones, purple red and black, rainbows had been sealed into the earth underneath these hills.

I needed to poop.  It wasn’t desperate, but I didn’t want it to become desperate.  I passed a hotel marina with a swimming area, a section to moor boats, and a two story dock that was just right for parking a kayak at.

At the lower level a uniformed crewman was trying to get an outboard motor started on his dinghy.  From the upper level a young shirtless man in a red bathing suit called down to me.

“What do you need?” he asked in an intrusive tone.

“Do you work here?” I don’t like it when authority figures try to push me around without identifying the source of their authority.

“No.” He told me.

I addressed the crewman but he didn’t speak English.  Still, most people here seem to understand the word toilet, so I tried a few times.

Red Bathing Suit was trying to get my attention.

“My friend,” he began.

A lot of Turkish people address me as their friend.  In fact, I never had so many friends that don’t know my name.  But they all seem to think that we’re such good friends that they can sell me something I don’t need, or tell what to do.  They expect me to listen because we’re such good friends.

“My friend, you can’t be here.  It’s too dangerous.”  There were no swimmers near me.

“Toilet please?” I called up.

“My friend, I am sorry, but this is a hotel.  You can not use the toilet.  You must go.”

“I’m kayaking from Sp...”

He cut me off, “Yes, I understand, but you must leave.”

I backed away from the dock.  Opposite the way I came in was another opening in the sea wall.  It was in the direction I needed to go, so I headed for it.

“My friend,” he called down, “please do not go that way.  That is the woman’s beach.  Please go out the other way.”

“No problem.” I called up cheerfully, and continued in the direction I was going.

He wasn’t my friend.  Friends let friends use their toilets.  It’s a minimum qualification, more important than not sleeping with you friend’s significant other and more practical than a Facebook status.  Red Bathingsuit Jerk was my enemy.  More than being the way I wanted to go, it was an opportunity to stick it to the man.

And paddling in front of the women’s beach was not without reward.  I was afforded a scintillating view of shiny thin naked metal sheets.  Two stories of them separated me from the beach.

I was a kilometer off the shore when my bowels and a turdle reminded me that there was work to be done.  I’d never made a large poop at sea before, but the water was calm so it seemed like an opportunity not to be wasted.  Was everything tied in?  Sure, everything is always tied in.

My paddle float was not available to save me from bailing so I capsized and wet exit.

Without letting go of my boat I floated in the cool relaxing water.  Suddenly a log was floating near my face, crap.  Out at sea logs can be dangerous.  They can reek havoc on a boat’s hull, and if they get caught in a propellor - that’s the shit hitting the fan.

I blew on it, and tried to splash it away, but it got closer. Without letting go of my boat, I kicked hard to flee in terror, but it was gaining on me.

I had no choice but to commit the great sin.  I released my deck lines and sprinted to the bow in sheer terror.  I escaped.

I pulled my boat away from the danger zone, inserted myself upside down and rolled up.  I set up my storm paddle as an outrigger for extra support and began to pump out my cockpit.  One of my Nalgenes, without the cap, floated a few feet away from my boat.

With the storm paddle serving as an outrigger, Ikarus was a barge.  I had to rescue Nalgene, at any cost.  I pulled the paddle out from the deckline and shoved it under my bungees, and Nalgene was drifting farther away.  I performed a sculling draw with vigor, but with my water loaded cockpit I was still too slow.  I tried reaching out with my paddle to draw it in.  Maybe I managed to pull it a little closer, but not soon enough.  The last of the air escaped through the open mouth and Nalgene slipped under.  I capsized and tried to reach for it, but it was too far and sinking fast.
I had only one choice left.  I ejected from my boat, throwing caution and my paddle to the waves, and dove.  I reached for it while kicking profusely.  I had to save it.  I was so close.  A single millimeter was the difference between life and eternal loneliness at the bottom of the sea.
My life jacket snapped me back to the surface.  All I had to do was take it off to save a friend. 

Nalgene was out of sight.  I recovered my boat and paddle, rolled up, and pumped out the twice flooded cockpit.

Sponge was gone.  Some time during the commotion I saw it floating next to my boat, but it never occurred to me that it might not be tied in.

The bungy on my front deck had come untied.  I was not about to swim to the front to fix it.  It’s a simple system.  A blue bungy is tied to a black bungy at both ends.  Now, at one of the ends it had come untied.  A free blue end was next to a free black end, and they were next to a blue and black not.

I moved my storm paddle to my back bungies, a less secure position.
I found a watersports worker in the water repairing some buoy lines.  I was unable to communicate across the language barrier that I wanted him to tie to blue and black bungys.  I also failed to get through to three swimming bikini models.  An older Russian man didn’t speak English either, but he looked at my front deck and knew exactly what to do.  I was grateful and returned my storm paddle to its place.  If I had lost it …

I paddled through extraordinarily colorful gasoline smelling water.  The hotel swimmers didn’t notice.  The lifeguards watched to make sure I didn’t get too close to their hotels.

I explored one last sea cae before finding Alanya’s marina.  I practiced some rolls and then pulled in. 

At first the receptionist wanted to charge me to store a five meter boat, but I persuaded her, with some effort, to come and see it first.  Then she understood, and I was invited to enjoy the marina’s considerable hospitality as a guest.

That night, while charging, my phone quietly fell into the eternal sleep. 

Nautical miles paddled: 24
Current location: 36.559196, 31.949309

 

Two months later: Thank you so much Nalgene for sending me a new bottle.  The quality of your customer service is matched only by the quality of your products.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Day 154

6/17/2014

Another day like the last, more unhappy turtles.

I passed a river with cool slightly stinky dark water running into the sea.  I rolled and reveled in the chill.  It’s getting so hot that just rolling in regular water doesn’t always cool me off any more.  Sometimes I just sit upside down and reach down deep to let my heat disperse with the sea.

Early in the afternoon a sharp headwind picked up.  I pulled over to a water sports center and was welcomed off the water on my first try.

After I was situated to wait out the wind I went back out to practice rolling on the rough water.  I kept getting pushed into a buoy rope that separated the water sports from the swimmers.  I lost my glasses.  I used to tie my glasses on in two places, but that was when I was surfing on big wave s every chance I got.  Over the winter, when I was barely rolling, I fell out of the habit of losing my glasses.

I wandered onto the hotel’s section of the beach and a security guard quickly and brusquely turned me back.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5202,5204,5203"]
Nautical miles paddled:  13

Current location: Errr... yep.  This was easier when I had a chart and/or a computer.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day 153:

6/16/2014

Another day of gaudy beach hotels, speedboats, jet skis, and all the ostentatiousness money can buy.

I passed two large turtles and mourned for what my race had done to their home.

Sometimes there was a break in the temple to cheap thrills and greed and I passed dunes that argued for solace and peace. Along those dunes the water was shallow and reefs scraped at the bottom of my kayak. I could identify the worrisome sections from a short distance away, and should have chosen to turn hard and give them a wide berth. Instead I tried to pick my way through the treacherous hull skinning water. I realized that the only way to go was back, but thought just maybe I could go forward. I hate going back.

And I did get through, though I would definitely need to remember to examine my hull at the end of the day. It was probably fine.

One of the folks in charge of the previous day’s water sports center told me he was a professor of physical education at Ankara University. He presented me with a slip of paper that I should show at the university’s campground, so that they would feed and shelter me.

I found the campground. It was in fact a budget hotel for students. I showed the slip to the reception and they offered to let me stay for 100 lira a night. No, I could not use their internet if I was not a guest.

I made friends with a university worker picking up garbage around the beach chairs. He told me I could sleep on one of the chairs for the night, which was nice. They were both cushioned and off of the sand.

In the middle of the night someone pointed a flashlight in my eyes and spoke forcefully “Yadda wing wooba gump!”

“Hi, I’m Dov. I kayaked here from Spain. I have permission to sleep here.

“Slump gerfp.”” He answered and left me to fall right back to sleep.

Nautical miles paddled: 15
Current location: 36.813408,31.311561

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 152

6/15/2014

I paddled across the city's bay and from a distance gazed at the man made sore, bleeding urban misery beneath snowcapped mountains singing the angel's song.   I wondered what it'll take to save us from ourselves.

I met up with some cliffs and paddled into a U-tunnel,  in one end and out the other. The cliffs were not sharp or jagged as the Antalya region mountains I was leaving behind, these looked more like ice-cream frozen in the process of dripping and drooping.   One wall looked as though a hundred giant old-man noses protruded from it.

After that I saw the waterfall.  For all that Icarus likes to sink,  more water came over those cliffs in one second than through Icarus' hull 42 years.  Half way down the torrent, rocks protruded from the cliff into the falling river and the water exploded off of them in a white eruption more spectacular than any fireworks display,  and it never stops. I paddled through the cloud that formed at  the bottom and was blinded and drenched by the water vapor eruption.  

I passed some five yachts moored in the bay next to the fall.  Hotels were followed by more hotels.  A speed boat wizzed in front of me and left a trail of black goo.

At the end of my day, after a few failed attempts, I found some friendly watersports people who were all to happy to host me.  Just as I was getting comfortable next to a banana boat for the evening, one of my hosts invited me to sleep on a real bed in his home.

Five of us piled into a small car and we headed out of the parking lot.  A tall thin blond was walking up ahead and my host honked the car horn several times and lowered the windows so that she could hear his cat call.  The process repeated itself whenever we passed a woman he found attractive.  We also stopped whenever he saw someone he knew, which was frequent in the small village behind the line of  hotels.

We dropped off the other passengers one at a time and then found our way to his home.  The small room had four mattresses on the floor, he took one and I another.  He apologized to me for having an empty fridge, but was there anything he could get for me? 

The bed was soft and the room was comfortably warm.  In the morning we managed to to return to the water sports center with only half as many cat calls.  Maybe pretty women sleep late.

Nautical miles paddled: ~20
Current location: Some hotel beach

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 151

6/13/2014

In the morning the strong south winds continued.

By 11:00 the sea was calmer and I launched. I passed a forest with a highway running through it, some beaches with old boats pulled up on them, and a marina under construction. The marina was in a natural harbor laying between an island and a gently curving shoreline. Some ten yachts of varying sizes sat moored and a jet ski zoomed between them. Swimmers laughed.
After three hours I arrived in Antalya's marina. Someone at the Finike marina had called ahead and told them to expect me.

I was welcomed like a king. I should feel free to use all of the marina's facilities including their pool. Could they treat me to dinner at the marina's restaurant? I could stay as long as I want and I should eat my meals at their expense in the cafeteria which has a large salad bar.

It was nice to feel welcome.

I walked for an hour and a half along a dirty highway without sidewalks and then through bleak commercial district streets to the Samsung store, where they could not fix my phone or sell me a waterproof camera. Antalya is a city of one million. There aren't enough trees and too many cars. I made it back just in time to buy some ice cream for my sabbath dinner and begin sweet rest.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5190,5193,5192,5191"]

Nautical miles paddled: 9
Current location: 36.833182,30.607277

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 150

6/12/2014

My hosts fed me lots of olives, cheese, bread,and vegetables after I cooked my meal last night. So this morning I filled up one of my Nalgenes with the leftovers, whole grain bulgur, lentils, and tahini, and the other with my gogo juice.

I set out on glassy water.

I was in front of another hotel beach when the gust came head on. Only, unlike other gusts, this one didn't end. I found myself fighting into a force six headwind one inch at a time. I needed to get of the water.

I passed a harbor and turned into the protected waters. Three high seawalls guarded a beach-swimming area, a moored motor yacht, and a gullet. Behind the beach was a super luxury hotel (36.704399,30.574817). I don't know what its name was, but I wish I did. I climbed a ladder up onto the pier on the inside of the seawall, pulled my boat out, and changed into land clothing. The next step was to find the reception and get permission to leave my boat there overnight. On the way I stopped in a restroom and cleaned up.

When I came out a security guard stopped me.

"Room number?" he asked and presented a pen and paper to write it down.

"I'm on my way to the reception to work that out." I told him.

He didn't understand.

We both repeated our thoughts several times before he took out a phone and handed it to me.
The women on the other end, after talking to me and suggesting that I could get a room, then spoke to the guard. Presumably to ask him to show me the way to the reception. As it happened there was an open gate that led outside the hotel area next to us. The guard began telling me to go out the gate and around.

If I went out that gate I would never be allowed back in, and separated from my boat until I could outsmart the elite security force that still didn't know about my kayak.

With some persuasion, I took the guard to see my kayak. And with a greater effort managed to convince him I paddled from Spain. He was impressed, and asked me to wait there for his boss.
I waited. The wind roared outside, but in the artificial shelter everything was peaceful. The boss came and introduced himself as the security chef. He probably meant chief, but I'm in no forgiving mood.

I got into his go cart and we went to see my kayak.

He told me I had to leave.

"I want to see the reception and get permission to stay."

"You must go."

"I kayaked here from Spain. The sea is dangerous now. I won't go until I see the reception and talk to them."

"You're talking to me. I tell you what you need to know. You must go. I am the security chef. "
"Yes, you are the security chef. You don't understand what I'm telling you. I want to talk to the reception where they can give me permission to leave my boat here."

"The hotel is full."

"I don't want to stay here. I want to talk to the reception."

His chest was puffed up and he was moving into my personal space. He touched my chest the next time he told me I had to go.

In my calm-steel voice "Don't touch me."

He backed up a couple of steps.

I tried to get him to walk up to the top of the sea wall to see how wild the sea was, but he wouldn't.

After repeating most of the previous conversation several times, he made a phone call, coached a fellow from customer relations on what to tell me, and then handed me the phone.

"Hi," I said. "I just want to explain my situation. If, after hearing me, you still want me to leave then I'll go."

"Yes, I understand what you are saying, but we have no rooms in the hotel. You have to go. "

I might have yelled, "How can you understand what I'm saying if I haven't said it yet?!"

Twenty minutes later I was suiting up to launch. Paddling out of the harbor a lifeguard called to me that I wasn't allowed to kayak in the harbor. It was for “swimmers only."

Once his message was delivered he looked out over the crashing sea. Nervously he told me to be careful.

After a few hundred meters I found a water sports shack in front of a water park. I introduced myself and they warmly welcomed me to stay for the night.

A security guard came down from the water park. His uniform looked the same as the others. He offered to help me carry my boat, and walked us out a gate and shut me out, away from the hospitality of the kind water sports people.

"Secure area." He said to me.

I was on a small dirt road between the water park and a hotel. The road lead to yet another water sports shack at the end of a sea wall. I made friends and finally found kindness.

Please, if you have a flaming bag of poo, send it to the hotel at the above coordinates.

In the evening the water calmed down some and I cooled off with some rolls. At one point I saw a piece of garbage sinking near my boat in the murky water. Out of habit, I tried to grab it but it was too late. Meh, it was only a vague suspicion that made me reach for it, it's not like it was my chart or anything.*

*It was my chart.

Nautical miles paddled: 6
Current location: 36.704399,30.574817

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 149

6/11/2014

I slept on one of the cushioned beach chairs belonging to the restaurant owner that I befriended last night. In the morning he brought me vegetables, dry bulgur, and small packets of spreads for slices of bread.

The sea was glassy calm. On the northeast corner of the bay I found a cave that was bigger on the inside than it looked from without. I continued along the mountain wilderness coast.

Gaia was the all mother, the first. She gave birth to Uranus, the sky god, and then they lay down together. Uranus and Gaia parented the Titans, and that messy story I've already told. But Gaia's troubles were not over.

Her (grand)children were imprisoned in Tartarus deep beneath the earth. Uranus was castrated and lame.

She went to Tartarus. How it happened, I can not say. Perhaps she hoped the act would free her offspring. Perhaps she was drawn to the dark power, so different from her own. Maybe the saga of her life had driven her mad, but whatever her motives were, she lay with him.

The dark seed grew. Gaia begot Typhon. Legend has it that Typhon was so vast that if he were to stretch he would cover the entire earth with the dragons, vipers, man flesh, and fire that was his body. Typhon begot many monsters, and all are said to be descended from him, but his final crowning achievement was his daughter Chimera. She was a fire breathing lion; a goat head protruded from her back and a venomous snake from her tail. She laired in the fire pits of the mountains above me, where to this day nighttime visitors can see the rocks burn.

The sky above me was clear, but the tallest of those mountains was covered in dark clouds. Thunder boomed.

Two fishing boats were coming from behind me chugging along at around six knots. If I could catch their wake - use the force of the water displacing their boat from behind - I would fly.
I angled in towards the closer of the two and managed to drop right into the climbing foam just behind the propeller. The boat stopped. The fisherman at the rudder wanted to know how he could help me. I told him to just go, but he didn't speak a word of English or understand my hand waiving. He offered repeatedly to throw me a rope.

The other fishing boat pulled over to translate. The fisherman only spoke five words of English, but one of them was "sport." And so we were on our way.

As long as I could keep up, I would be in the wake and go fast. If I fell behind there would be no second chance.

Keeping up was hard. I had to keep the first wake wave behind me. I could not slow down, rest, or snack. Without breaking into a sprint, except when I dropped back some, I paddled as fast as I knew how.

Sweat poured down my brow; I could not roll to cool off. I was shooting past the wilderness at great cost. The fisherman gave me a thumbs up after half an hour. I didn’t know how much longer I could keep it up, but I intended to remain with the fisherman until he arrived at his destination.

My boat shifted left and right in the wake. I turned hard to keep from being thrown out. I struggled through for over an hour. Without realizing that I slowed, the first wake wave slipped under me.

I tried to hold onto the second, but the pulling force of the wake was diminished and I soon lost the second wave as well. I called goodbye to the fisherman. After a couple hundred meters he stopped and began releasing his nets. I hadn't made it all the way, but I was close. I shaved about an hour off my day, and felt like I needed to rest two.

Except that the storm over the mountains seemed to be getting bigger and louder. After some brief spelunking and a set of pine crowned cliffs I found a resort beach. Hotels and beach chairs lined the shore. Motorboats zoomed along blasting discotec and trailing water skiers or paragliders. Jet skis roared and swimmers ignored the Chimera storm that threatened to overrun and electrocute us all at any moment.

A covered dock jutted out from the beach and a platform above was covered with water sports equipment.

A man called out to me hello and asked where I was from.

"Hi, I'm American, but I kayaked here from Spain." I told him.

"Wow! How many days?" he asked.

"About 149."

"What do you eat?"

I started to take out my chia maca gogo juice when I realized I had leverage. "I'd love to show you, may I leave my boat here until the weather passes,maybe for the night?"

"I'm sorry," he told me, "but this a private club. You can use the beach over there."

Of course. Well, what I eat while I paddle is none of your business.

I decided not to use the beach. I was heading to the Kemer marina where I would undoubtedly find a hot shower and friendly sailors.

I stuck close to the beach and hoped the higher ground would protect me from lightning. I didn’t run over any of the occasional swimmers who were mostly fat and slow.

Lifeguards would yell at me to get out of the swimming area. I ignored them. Even the hotels with wide swaths of beach were behind me in a few moments. They called to other lifeguards and a manager. But I left the angry soulless minions of sea fencing jet skiing super wealth behind me and once again found myself paddling along wilderness.

The Chimera storm remained in the mountains behind me.

I rested in a sea cavern with my head on my back deck and studied the ceiling. A boom box motor boat roared in and I left.

At the marina I was told I couldn't stay.

"Do you understand what I'm telling you? I kayaked 2,000 kilometers to get here!" Usually when people are mean to me it's because they don't understand or believe me.

The man at the desk said "Yes, I understand, and I'm telling you no."

I moved on.

I passed more hotel beaches and tried another water sports center where the Ukrainian proprietors fell in love with me and treated me like a king for the night.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5177,5176"]

Nautical miles paddled: 23
Current location: 36.614322,30.558804

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day 148

6/10/2014

The first 13 miles were a cut to the next headland.  A headwind shifted to a beam wind.  The coast,  a couple miles away, was lined by a sandy beach and beyond, the town of kumulca.

After the headland,  everything changed.   I had a fantastic tailwind.   The coast, which I closely followed, was thick with fragrant pine forests on steep red mountains and wild low cliffs. Off my starboard, opposite the wilderness,  islands climbed out of the sea.  One was bright red, another hundred foot high gray stone was cut right down the middle in two.  Each side was of the towering two halves was at least 20 acres.

I passed a beach where a handful of tourists were unloading from a tour boat for an afternoon of R&R in paradise.

I turned into a large bay, briefly fought into the strong wind, and arrived at a beach.  I didn’t get any hand rolls, but reverse sweep, crook of elbow, shotgun, and butterfly rolls all went fine and entertained a small crowd.  One man spoke to me in Turkish while I was rolling.  I couldn't figure out what he was saying, though his tone did not seem friendly.

I took out next to a beach shower, grabbed shampoo from my hatch, and was pleased to so quickly resolve one of my needs.

For internet I'd need a wifi connection.

The first bar said I could not use theirs. The second didn't have one. The third said no problem, and offered me free dinner.

 

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5170,5171"]

Nautical miles paddled: 22

Current location: 36.296951,30.471085

 

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Dog and the Tooth in Finike

After the day of critical repairs came the Jewish festival of Shavuot.

In this marina is a clubhouse called The Porthole and I found a snug corner to sleep.  I figured it was late enough in the evening so that no one would notice me and I'd be out in the morning before breakfast.

I was almost asleep in my corner when I heard the door open.

"I don't see anyone here."  A man's voice said.

A woman answered, "I saw someone come in; I'm sure of it."

I lay in my corner and hoped they'd leave.

"Maybe he went out a window," the man said.  They began inspecting the windows.  It was only a matter of time until I was found. I stood up to introduce myself.   The heavyset middle aged nosy woman saw me first and began to scream a high pitched alarm to alert the marina and surrounding countryside of my presence.

The man next to her was temporarily stunned by the force of the ongoing wail.
When it subsided he and I reclaimed control of our facilities. We rolled initiative and he won.

"YOU THERE!" He said pointing at me and leaning in as though bracing for finger impact.

"Hi," I got out.

Neither of us knew where to go from there.  He continued to point at me and I waited.  The moment passed.

"Who are you?" He asked.  The woman stood behind him, so that he could shield her.

"I'm Dov.  I kayaked here from Spain.  I was hoping I could sleep here but I now recognize that's not okay so I'll be on my way.  I'm sorry I startled you."

They were startled.  "That's right it's not okay."

I quickly gathered up my sleeping things and left.

I slept on the grass.  No mosquitoes buzzed so I slept well.

The next day a group of sailors approached me.  They applauded my trip and casually mentioned that I should sleep in The Porthole during my stay and not outside.  I apologized for scaring the people the night before.
After a thunderstorm I got ready to launch. I was all packed and ready to go when I found Wolfgang putting one last layer of finish on my storm paddle.  It would be dry in four hours.
I launched in the afternoon. 

A strong tailwind was forecast.  A strong headwind came.  The swell was at least a meter, maybe twice that.  More thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon.  After an hour I turned around, and made it back to the harbor in time for the next bout of lightning.
I met a really nice dog and we fell in love.  We sat under a tree and I ate cheese spread on fresh bread with pickled peppers. 
For many years now have felt that my mouth is right handed, that is, the right side of my mouth feels better at chewing then the left.  Just as I have overused my left hand over the years to teach it the skills of my right, I have also been chewing on on the left side of my mouth to develop ambidextrous chewing skills.
Chewing my food, something felt different, almost as though there was a layer of plastic wrap through one of my teeth.  I tried to work it out with extra chewing, and it seemed to work.
There was a stone in my bread.  I often find stones in my lentils, but this was the first time I ever found one in my bread.  I picked it out from between my teeth and threw it into the grass.
I chewed some more and realized that I was missing half of a molar.

With the help of the marina’s friendly manager, I found my way to a dentist.  He told me that the tooth was infected, and if I didn’t get surgery the infection would work it’s way into my brain and kill me by Monday night.

He had an opening Monday afternoon and I should come back then.

I walked to my boat for a rolling session.  I held my phone in my hand and listened to a Star Trek episode with headphones.  My dog friend leaped up to tell me how much he loved me.  On his way back down he caught the headphone wire and yanked my phone to the ground where the screen cracked badly.

I took the phone into town.  I found many phone shops that could not repair it and one that could.  They made a phone call for me.  Then the proprietor rode off on his motorcycle and left me alone in the store.  When he came back he had a price, 500 lira (~$250).  I found another store that could not fix it, but assured me that if they could it would only cost me 300 lira.  I’ll try again in Antalya, hopefully with more luck.  Hopefully my phone will remain functional until I get there.

It turns out those big wooden double masted sail boats I see everywhere are called gulets.  That’s good to know.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5164,5163,5162,5161,5160,5159,5158"]

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day 147

In the night the mosquitoes buzzed around me.

6/2/2014

I paddled the long narrow strip of sea between the mainland and a hilly barrier island.  An old Roman fortress guarded the fjord, sailboats sat moored on the sheltered waters.

Something swam ahead of me.  It came out of the water and submerged itself.   Was it a fin, a flipper, the back of a creature?  I couldn't tell.  Birds chirped from the thick brush overhead.

I turned a corner and followed a narrow winding path between islands.  There, in a shallow cove, a turtle nearly the size of a Monopoly board floated a few inches below the surface.  I let my kayak glide past, awestruck by its nobility.  I did not dare paddle closer, lest I interrupt its reverie.

I left the sheltered waters behind and paddled back out on the open sea.  The forecast called for a day like the former, force seven tailwinds, but instead the weather was a jumble.  The swell was large, sometimes climbing as high as two and a half meters, but the wind kept coming in gusts from different directions and probably never broke force four.

Kids yelled at me from a beach.  I had no idea what they were saying,  but they were persistent.  Did they lose a ball to the sea and want me to recover it?  Were they warning me about a chemical spill up ahead?

I kept on going.  Different kids started yelling at me.  I rolled and they were satisfied.
I paddled beneath cliffs and the rebounding waves kept me a little too busy to stop for a snack.  The sleep I lost to the mosquitoes caught up with me.  I felt as though I could drop off to sleep right there on the chop.  I tried screaming to wake myself up.  It worked for a moment.  After much too long I found half sheltered water and I stuffed my face with sea soggy bread.
Farther along I spotted a large piece of floating plastic trash underwater.  It was green, white and yellow.  It was a turtle as large as the first and directly in front of me.  I glode* towards it.  The enormous turtle stuck his softball size head out of the water and snorted.  A big eye blinked at me.  The long neck snapped down and the creature was ten feet under and watching me.

It swam a circle around my boat and then raised the periscope for another look.  We stared at each other.  It swam up to my cockpit.  It's green and yellow back was covered in shells.  I could have reached out my hand and plucked one.

It scuttled under my cockpit and  emerged, head in the air, to get a look at my portside.  It then returned to starboard.  I sat motionless, thunderstruck.  It swam  around my boat a couple of times and repeated the entire procedure: snort then hello at the cockpit.  Then the curious turtle swam away.

My energy was refreshed, I could have paddled a hundred miles though I only had one left.
I stopped and worked on my hand roll.   A bale of turtles slowly passed; periodically one would raise his or her head to look around.

The port here is full of friendly sailors, mostly German, and has great showers. My back compartment took on way too much water.  Wolfgang helped me repair two substantial leaks with fiberglass.  I also used it to reinforce a number of old repairs that had cracks spider webbing out.  New leaking cracks had also formed just below the combing on either side.  I hope Icarus will make it to the end of my quest, but I don't know how much more she can take.

I used the local post office to send a letter.  They gave me a large free envelope, rounded down the weight of the package, and the postage cost next to nothing.   Assuming my letter arrives, this is the best post office I have ever been to.  I tried tipping the postman and he wouldn't take my money.

I found myself in the fine company of an American professor who takes students out here.  Among other jewels of local history he shared with me, apparently Saint Nicholas was the bishop in this area.

*It should be a word.

Nautical miles paddled: 19
Current location: 36.293043,30.148813

Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 146

6/1/2014

Force five southwest winds in the morning, force six to seven in the afternoon.  For the first hour, I fought into it to leave the deep harbor.
  
After I rounded the headland, putting the wind at my back, Icarus flew.  My paddles sliced through the water like swords and I rode the busting two meter waves around me.

I passed the last Greek archipelago.  On land, rocky green mountain wilderness stretched on forever. 

A narrow channel cut a piece of peninsula off into an island and I sped towards it, or at least, I hoped it did.  The slice of sea between the mountains was so narrow I couldn’t see it.  If my chart was wrong and it wasn't there, then I would have to turn around and head into a doom wind.  Five hundred meters away and I still couldn't see it.  I worried.   Two hundred meters away, it looked like there was no channel.  I peered back over my shoulder as the wind continued to rocket me forward.   Every moment would be another agonizing struggle back around the peninsula.  Fifty meters, maybe it was there?  Twenty five, I turned to cut through the mountains and was overcome with relief.

After the channel I headed north along more wilderness.   Frequent small bays provided shelter for breaks.  Finally I turned west to cross a large bay.  The beam gusts grabbed my paddle and fought me for control of it and my boat.  I held on tightly and switched to my storm paddle once the crossing was complete.

I entered an inner bay.  It was crowded with boats seeking shelter from the storm but eventually I managed to find a parking spot.

While I work on this post in a cafe I'm chatting with the friendly manager.  He's telling me the advantages of black woman.  Unfortunately, it would seem, he has trouble finding them here in Turkey so his next vacation will be in Brazil.  I like that we're talking like friends and I'm not being interviewed about my adventure.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5154,5153,5152,5151,5150"]

Nautical miles paddled: 15.5
Current location: 36.196949,29.849612

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 145

5/29/2014

This was the first town since Symi, so I searched for and found a glasses shop. When I walked in, the salesman told me he had nothing under 200 lira. But we chatted, got friendly, and with a little bit of bartering I got a pair for 100 lira. The salesman assembled them with extra fortitude to withstand my rugged lifestyle.

I also needed a new camera and found a waterproof model in the town's digital shop. Unfortunately, it was disposable and stored the pictures on film, which can't be plugged into my phone. So I'm back to paddling without a camera, I hope you liked the pictures from the Josh Harris Camera while they lasted and I'm sorry about the water spots.

After arriving I had hauled my kayak a considerable distance to the water sports dock, which was much too high to launch from. So I loaded Icarus then slid her down into the water, jumped in after her, inserted myself upside down into the cockpit, and rolled upright.
Addressing my spectators above I said "That's how it's done."

I passed a double masted sailboat tacking into the wind. I liked that. It seems most of the sailboats I see turn their motors on and take down their sails when headwinds come.
About half an hour later I heard a motor. I turned around and saw a dinghy rushing towards me. When they were close enough I said hello and smiled.

There were two men on the dinghy, a crewman in a white uniform and a middle aged fellow in casual clothing, probably part of the party chartering the yacht and crew.

The sailboat stood still in the distance with sails down.

"Are you okay?" the fellow asked. "We thought maybe you were in distress."

Maybe they saw me waving my nalgene around trying to break up a chia slug.* I about a mile from land heading towards a peninsula.

"I appreciate the thought, but I'm fine. Thank you though."

After that there wasn't much more to say. They asked me if I was okay again and I told them about the blog and gave a goodbye roll as I pulled away.

As soon as I landed in port I found myself talking to kayakers from BC. Apparently I'm in a popular kayaking destination. A local outfitter, Bougainville, invited me to stay in their hotel. They also take groups scuba diving, canyoning and climbing.

Friday I went to the police office to get my passport stamped. I was only a little worried that they'd throw me in jail, but I told them I spoke to the embassy [four years ago] and they told me I would be fine. I also told them I just paddled over from the Greek islands. There are a handful of Greek islands within a few miles off the coast here, and I could have arrived in Turkey today from Greece by kayak.

The best way for me to get a visa was to fill out the form online.

I submitted my email address kayakdov@gmail.com and the visa was emailed to me. I logged onto my personal email account, where the kayakdov address forwards to and waited for the visa.

The police saw this and wanted to know why I lied about me email address. I tried to explain about the automatic forwarding, but they wouldn't understand. The matter was made worse by the visa not coming.

I filled out the form again, and the second time it worked. I got my visa. My passport was stamped and I'm now in Turkey legally. If Greek prison is bad, then I don't even want to think about Turkish prison, so it's nice that for the moment I'm not breaking any laws.
I was unable to find a waterproof camera here in Kaş.

* Sometimes chia seeds don't coagulate with the water but coalesce into gobs, or chia slugs.

wpid-20140529_120823.jpg

Nautical miles paddled: 15
Current location: 36.199008,29.64029

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 144

I walked along the beach smiling and squinting at the girls. One of them smiled back. A rasta girl had an old dog that looked a little like a chocolate a lab and we started to talk.

She was not bikini clad, but rather wore beat up flower clothing from the 60s. She sat next to a guitar and well worn travel bags.

We shared supplies for dinner and I learned Asha's story.

Asha met her dog at a pound. Clove's eyes connected with hers and it was love at first sight. Asha and Clove left home to travel the world she took her guitar and camping equipment with her.
Their last 100 dollars was stolen in Mexico. After that they supported themselves with street corner concerts--she writes her own music--and selling handmade jewelry knickknacks. They made it to South America and then, somehow, over to Europe. They hitchhiked through Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Greece, where they settled in a valley next to a Cretan stream. Their epic journey had brought them to a place of nymphs, fairies, and sprites, a place where a dog could grow old and be happy, and a young woman could while away her days tending a wilderness garden as the last free spirit.

Things were good, until she brought food to a friend in jail and was incarcerated herself for overstaying her visa. She did not speak Greek and was unable to order her food over the phone as the system provided. As a vegetarian she would not eat the meat spaghetti the church occasionally brought. For four days she was very hungry.

Then she was expelled to Turkey.

She found her way to the mountains around me a week ago and made camp in the woods. This morning, Turkish soldiers broke up her camp and threw her out.

Her dog is old and they're looking for a place to settle down. Maybe if they can make it back to the EU, where there's more money in street concerts, they can save up enough to get to South America where life is good.

Good luck Asha.

Day 144
5/28/2014

Asha made camp on the beach a few hundred meters from me. We had breakfast together and she insisted that I take her ginger, walnuts, and fruit with me. I steadfastly refused so she hid the supplies in one of my drybags.

I connect with walnuts. The story is that grandpa Sam was so strong he could crack walnuts with his bare hands, so they make me think of him.

I paddled past pristine beaches and 2000-meter forested mountains just over the water. I explored a sea cave with a single chamber large enough to fit half a dozen elephants in a circus pyramid.

The sky was dark and the tail wind grew strong and even became a little uncomfortable. I paddled along a beach just outside the surf zone. I expected to find a river mouth with a couple of bars a short paddle inland if I decided to stop early.

Suddenly I was in the surf. A wave one and a half times my height broke and rammed my starboard side. I leaned into it, sculled, and used the bursting foam to support my weight. I must have been near the river mouth, but without my glasses I wasn't sure.

I fought to get out of the extended surf zone, and was hit by a few more waves, but nothing as big as the first.

With the surf behind me, I squimted out the shape of cyclists just behind the beach. Cool, my triumph over the sea had been witnessed.

I arrived in the port and climbed out of Icarus into shallow water. I picked her up by the bow and stepped onto a ramp, pulling her with me. My second step slipped out from under me. I dropped her onto the concrete with a bang. As I fell my camera jumped out of my jacket pocket, hit the ground, popped open and into the water. On my hands and knees I slid down the slime to the bottom of the ramp.

My pride was shaken. My hull was dented, but nothing I couldn’t repair. My camera was full of salt water, and no amount of dry rice could save it.

The port was not a hospitable place. Showers cost eight Turkish lira ( ~ $4). There was an unused stand that would have been perfect for me to fix my boat on, but the coast guard wouldn't let me, or even take the time to let me explain.

I wandered over to a water sports center, where I was greeted like a king. I could sleep there overnight, for as many days as I like. They would feed me and be happy to give me the eight lira for a shower.

I met a Saudi Arabian trio, a younger man and an older couple, who had just finished a ride on a speed boat. The woman was wearing a conservative Islamic outfit and headscarf.

My hosts told them my story and they were impressed.

The wife explained to me that even though they were very wealthy, the husband walked everywhere. In fact, now he's famous for it. They were really impressed by my trip.

Later, while I was eating dinner, he walked over and handed me money. I thanked him kindly and counted 200 Turkish lira after he left.

That was a lot of cash to be handed. They were having dinner some 50 feet away so I walked over to thank him again. He, and the other two handed me more money and we talked, smiled, and took pictures.

The younger man asked me what religion I was, "Christian?"

"Jewish," I told him.

The woman nearly screamed, desperately hoping she had misheard me. The younger man asked again.

I was still Jewish.

The older man stepped in. "Great! We're cousins. We are from Ishmael and you, Isaac. We shook hands like long lost family and after another picture, I politely made my escape.

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Nautical miles paddled: 24.5
Current location: 36.262092,29.412096

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 143

5/27/2014

I woke rejuvenated after an evening of good company and launched onto glassy clear waters.
Someone was playing with explosives far out to sea.   My rhythm was set by booms rushing over the water.

I had planned to camp tonight after a long crossing, but a headwind forced me towards land early.  I passed a gun boat and didn't take a picture because I don't want anyone asking to see my visa, and found a shower.

It was in a protected clear blue bay behind a small tourist bar hidden in a wilderness.
The abundant women here are beautiful and wearing bikinis.  My glasses are at the bottom of the sea.  I guess I left my super powers behind in the Aegean.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5023,5024,5025,5026,5027,5028,5029,5030,5031,5032,5033,5034,5035"]

Nautical miles paddled: 16
Current location: 36.46158,29.125088

Friday, June 20, 2014

Broken Phone

Beloved reader, my computer broke a few months ago and my smart phone yesterday.  Sadly, baring a substantial jump in contributions and a corresponding new piece of technology, my blogging will stagger or cease all together.  The good news is that I will keep a journal and my stories will likely be available in my upcoming book, tentatively named, The Theseus Kayak.

Thank you all for coming with me this far, go now and embrace life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Day 142

It's wrong to strike at someone's dignity because of their sexuality, since one has nothing to do with the other. Every human on God's green earth should be able to marry whomever they please provided 1) The couple shares a mutual loving relationship. 2) You may not marry a sibling, descendant, or ancestor - unless time travel is involved. 3) You may not marry your cat.

Day 142:
5/27/2014

Last night I found wifi and an electrical outlet behind a closed beach bar. After a couple of hours the owners found me and chased me away.

The hotel staff that was working on the beach brought me 12 liters of 750ml bottled water before my launch even though I'm happy to drink from the tap. A little dysentery now and then makes a fellow strong. I appreciated the gesture.

They waved to me as I paddled away and I gave a goodbye roll.

I packed the extra water in my 10 liter bag so that I could camp for the night, halfway to my next supply point. The larger than usual water bag displaced my bread bag, and I had to smush it under my leg rather than balance it between them.

I don't know if it's because my cockpit is leaking or if it was water that I took on during the goodbye roll, but my bread got soggy. Yuck.

I still had the chia maca drink. It got me about half the distance I needed to paddle for the day.
I could camp, but the only place to resupply tomorrow was in the wrong direction. I found a deep sheltered bay and got directions to the nearest restaurant-market, a mere ten miles crossing in the right direction.

I set out, into a sudden strong headwind, paddled for ten minutes, and turned around broken before the tears came.

Back in the bay there were four sailboats. I asked for supplies and got invited for tea onto a double masted sailing yacht.

I climbed up the ladder and Jan, my welcoming host, introduced me to his friend Sven.
"Well Hellooo!" Sven said with a strong effeminate intonation.

"Hi!"

After tea and regaling the party of 11 happy Dutch sailors with stories I got to shower. Sven lent me his comb to work the budding dreadlocks out of my hair. It was a loud painful process. Sven offered to comb my hair for me but I, a bit too quickly, declined.

Later, while we drank wine and beer I learned more about my hosts. Sven's husband was Jewish. There were two other married gay couples on board, Jan who was throwing the week long trip as a 74th* birthday party, and a number of single women. Everyone was over 60.
Apparently Sven had previously worked as a hairdresser and it was in that capacity that he had offered to comb my hair.

After drinking was dinner with more wine and singing. There were lots of yummy salads.
Thank you Jan for a wonderful rejuvenating evening that I will remember as one of the highlights of my trip.

On the pristine beach I slept like a king.

* I want to stress here that some of the names and numbers are only half remembered from a long joy filled evening.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="5020,5019,5018,5017,5016,5015,5014,5012,5011,5010,5009,5008,5006,5007,4991,4990"]

Nautical miles paddled: 14
Current location: 36.61781,28.864936

Monday, June 9, 2014

Day 141

I set out due east and paddled 19 miles on the same bearing with a tailwind.  At my midpoint, the nearest land, a few miles off, was a small island at the head of three bays.

I was getting tired.  The last of my gogo juice tasted off, probably from the heat.  I forced it down and immediately regretted it.  My last two miles were mired in sea sickness.

A vast beach spread out ahead of me.  Wind surfers were flying off waves and banana boats were zooming around.  I don't get banana boats.

Apparently my stop for the night is a popular tourist hotel destination.

I don't have a room and the security people and staff don't seem to want me around.  No, I may not use the wifi.  Hopefully they won't trouble me after they realize I'm sleeping here.

I found a tree with sweet berries growing in the higher branches, so I climbed it and gorged myself until my fingers were purple.   Yummm.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="4991,4990,4966,4989,4987,4985,4984,4974,4975,4988,4982"]

Nautical miles paddled:  22.5
Current location: 36.700675,28.692673

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Day 140

Day 140:

I paddled on glassy waters under orange and red speckled cliffs.  I only had a short distance to go, so I took the time to explore the nooks and crannies of the coast.  I was rewarded with a crack in the rock that turned out to be a sea cave.

Çiftlik Coyu is a tiny collection of houses and restaurants on an island-protected bay.  Sailboats and calm waters are surrounded by steep hills and the sandy beaches are warm and bright in the sun.

Hot showers grow on trees and smiles abound.  It's a wonderful place to spend the Sabbath.

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Nautical miles paddled: 7.5
Current location: 36.715161,28.237159

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Day 139

5/22/2014

After a last desperate losing battle with customs I launched with my new gear and left Greece behind.  The sea was calm and I passed and waved to several sailboats as I crossed to Turkey.
Once I rounded the headland the strengthening beam wind turned into a tailwind and I made good time.
But I was drinking potato soup instead of chia maca gogo juice and I was tiring.  And I also had to poop.  At 16:00, still 10 miles away from my destination, I headed into a beautiful bay at the edge of a thickly wooded ravine.  There might be spots of fresh water in the otherwise dry stream bed.
Near the beach I found a shallow well with a few inches of clear sweet water and a pile of donkey poop.

I could beat into the bush and climb up the stream bed or paddle out to the moored sailboat and ask for drinking water.  The boat flew an American flag.  One of the sailors even spoke a little English and they were happy to provide me with some bottles of water.

The bay was protected by an island and I went through my repertoire of rolls on the pristine water.

While I was training in Symi I was very pleased, after years of working at it off and on, to get the hang of a reverse sweep roll.  I remembered long ago drills and a brief lesson given to me by the kayak wizard Jack Gilman, and with his teaching, lots of failed attempts, and warm water I finally got it down.

In the wilderness bay I also performed on both sides my C to C, sweep, butterfly, shotgun, and crook of elbow rolls.  Up next, spine roll.

Sadly, I've lost my once reliable hand roll, but hopefully it will be easy to remaster once I have a wide repertoire of Greenland rolls.

I lay down on the beach and was asleep as soon as my head hit my life jacket.

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Nautical miles paddled: 20
Current location: 36.650029,28.14211