Sunday, April 20, 2014

Day 117


I didn’t have any food, so I couldn’t stay in the fishing camp. I decided to cross the red line and paddle into force five headwinds. Perhaps I could find shelter on the inland sea that paralleled much of my route.

On Friday I took out of shallow water after some gorilla scooting and laid my kayak for the weekend on the edge of an overgrown road.

Over the Sabbath the water crept away. Now that it was time to launch, I surveyed a mud flat.

My boat was loaded. I lifted it onto my shoulder and trudged forward. Two thirds of the way, I lay the boat down on the mud. I could not carry it farther.

I planted a leg on either side of the front of the cockpit, gripped the combing, lifted and swung the boat forward about half a meter. And repeat.

A flock of egrets took off and the sun watched my struggle on the flats as it climbed higher in the sky. I made it to some water, but it wasn’t deep enough. Rinse and repeat. Three inches, then four. The water was deep enough and I took off.

I paddled across a clear blue bay, under a mountain, and then around a corner into the wind. Waves broke onto the beach to my left. A thick, deep stream flowed from a break in the sand. It was my first access to the inland sea, and earlier than I expected.

My chart showed that the inland sea was separated by a series of islands. The Google satellite map showed a road between the inland sea and the outer along with several barriers that segregated the inland sea into possibly unconnected sections. It was hard to tell from the image.

Nautical charts are usually some combination of new surveys, satellite data, and old charts. Since old charts used similar haphazard methods, some mistakes have survived a very long time. That being said, the charts are sufficiently reliable so that if you stake your life on them, as those of us who do not rely on GPSs often do, you’ll probably be alright. Those of you who do rely on GPSs are building a world in which we will be ruled by robots.

I turned into the stream and punched through 30 meters of intense current. I hoped the conditions would be better on the other side.

I paddled inland for about five minutes before the water got so shallow I had to gorilla scoot. I was free for about five minutes then had to do it again. The head wind was just as ferocious inside as it was out, so I turned back the way I came.

But the waves were definitely calmer on the inside, and maybe the wind was calmer there also. I resolved to try again the next chance I got.

Some time ago I resolved never to paddle into force five headwinds again. And here I was, battling through a 22 mile force four - five cocktail of paddle grappling hat launching frenzy, because a small dog with sweet eyes managed to unzip my duffle and eat my uncooked rice.

I found another entry to the inner sea. I paddled under a footbridge and waved to a man overhead. He didn’t speak English, but effectively communicated that I would have to exit the same way I entered, since all the other ways out were sealed against small boats.

Frustrated, I turned around. The water along the beach became very shallow, but I stuck to it hoping that near land the wind and current would be less fierce. I was setting a personal record for most Gorilla scooting in one day.

The next two passages into the inner sea were blocked by fences down to the water.

I was at least three quarters of the way there when I got in. I saw the tiny houses of Mesolongi far off. The inner sea was very shallow. After I gorilla scooted for a while, the water was still not deep enough to paddle properly, so I swung my arms forward, grabbed the sand, and thrust my hips. I am sorry to say, my hip thrust muscles are not as developed as my arm muscles, from kayaking.

A couple of enormous fish, taller than the water was deep, waddled off and vanished into the shallow murkiness. In the distance I saw white caps. The water was deep there, so that’s where I went.

After another half hour of fighting the wind, I came to a fence jutting out of the water and crossing the sea. The first gap I tried to fit through was a little too small. I paddled along it for another hundred meters and found one that was large enough after I nudged the posts a little. The other side of the fence was only half built.

I wondered what would happen if the wind got any worse. Would I get out and walk? Though I was at least a couple of kilometers from land, the water was only a couple of feet deep.  The wind did not get worse; it got better.

I arrived near the port. Masts rose from just behind the forest. Next to land, I was sheltered and the water was calm. A woman herded sheep along the shore and I asked her where where the entrance to the port was.

I paddled up a strong stream and around a couple of corners between houses. I found a wide canal with a larger entrance of to my left. Along its banks were tin shacks and ramshackle boathouses, some half sunk in the canal. This is how I imagine a port might look in Raganda.I paddled to the intersection with another canal.

The whole area was enlarged on my chart, excluding the stream, so I knew where to go to find the very nice marina. “There’s a kayak club right over there,” the dock worker told me after we introduced ourselves and I was out of my boat. All I had to do was paddle another 200 meters.

I would sooner shovel shit naked on the tundra. I paddled 22 miles in ten hours of soul crushing weather. I ran out of food three hours ago. I ran out of water an hour and after that. I was done paddling for the day. I hobbled to the kayak club where I met the goddess Kalliope. She manages the grounds and is a beautiful energetic sprinter.

Kalliope told me how happy the club was to host the Serbian olympic kayaking team last week and how happy they were to host me now. After a hot shower, a soft bed with clean sheets waited for me.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="4094,4092,4093"]

Nautical miles paddled: 21

Current location: 38.360486,21.416813


  1. gorilla scooting ?

  2. Stick my fists down on either side of the boat and push down against the shallow bottom to lift my weight up and scoot the boat forward.