Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day 136

A combination of weather and weariness let me take a day off.  I checked my broken radio and found that it now worked.  I checked my emergency pfd light and found that it didn't.
Since I fixed the leaks on the floor of my cockpit my kayak began to develop a sea sweat odor.  I filled all three of Icarus's compartments with soapy water and then rocked it.  I found two leaks in the front compartment and two more on each of the gunnels.  I repaired them with my epoxy.
I mended the enormous holes in my back pockets, though one of them is now crooked.
Day 136
I had been hanging out at a taverna.  The owner insisted the weather was good and that I should part.  The weather was not good.  I needed to paddle east and there was a force five northwind forecast.  It was sufficient.  At 15:00 the wind might start to climb to a gale, but I would arrive before then.
At the end of my crossing a wide green valley descended from the mountains to the sea, then dropped to a beach with ten foot cliff.  Half of a church stood at the edge of the cliff.  Someone built a newer one 50 meters inland.
On the water I found that the wind blew from the northwest.  It was fantastic.  Waves turned to foam at their crests and drove me forward.
I took my first snack break in the lee of a one acre island towards the end of my crossing to Pserimos.  With my left hand I clutched a jagged rock to keep stable.
I paddled south close to the shore.  Ahead of me a large double masted sailboat motored north.   He too was close to the shore.  I tried to get close enough so that he wouldn't hit me even if he didn't see me.  As a kayak, I could get closer, I hoped.  Before we collided the sailboat turned sharply right into a hidden bay.  Other sailboats in the area were also heading in.
I followed them to the port village of Pserimos.  With so many boats returning at once I worried that there had been a sudden change in the forecast.  I asked a sailor.  He told me the wind might get up to a gale.  I knew that. I still had until 15:00;  I hoped.
I paddled in the shelter of the southern side of the island on flat water.  At the very tip sat a handful of entirely boring cheap rectangular buildings on a steep hill.  It was time for a break, and a dock at the bottom seemed like a good place.
A man came down the hill as I approached.   He had the silhouette of a man with a rifle slung over his shoulder in the American military style.
As we drew closer I saw he was in uniform and signaling me not to stop at his base's dock.  Okay, I went a little past it before pulling out my chia maca gogo juice, one of the three sources of my super powers.*
As I drank and renewed my strength, someone was calling to me.  But I was busy, so they waited. 
I turned around and approached the commander yelling to me from the dock.
He was shocked to learn that I would be making the five mile crossing to Kos.  He wanted to make sure I could contact the coast guard if I had trouble.  Sure I could; my radio had miraculously begun working the day before.
He insisted that I call the coastguard.   Damn.  They never answered when I called.  I was in the nook of the island so I was not optimistic.  They didn't answer.  I assured the soldier I would be fine.  "If I have any trouble, I’ll come back."
I set out and he used his phone to call Search and Rescue.  Three boats were activated and one of them found me three miles into my crossing to Kos.
I told them really I was fine.  Thank you for asking.  How are you?
They followed me for a while. When the spit around which I would be sheltered was only a mile away they ordered me to make a beach landing.   The surf zone looked brutal.   It was stupid to land there with shelter so close and a port only a mile after that.  I took out my radio to explain that they were actually making things more dangerous for me.  They weren't interested,  they had to rescue me.  It was an order.
Despite my complaining about the surf zone, I caught a wave, surfed to shore,  and made a perfect beach landing.  Considering the conditions, it may have been my smoothest ever.
An officer met me on the beach next to a dead seagull.  After triple checking that I was fine and didn't need to be hospitalized he interrogated me and examined my passports.  I arrived in Greece legally a couple of weeks earlier from Israel.  However, my passport showed no stamp.
"Why is there no stamp here?" the officer asked me after I explained my most recent entrance to Europe.
"I don't know." I told him.
"Maybe because you are here illegally?" he suggested.
"No, I'm not."  I told him.
"Then why is there no stamp?"
"I don’t know."
"It is because you are here illegally. "  he told me.
We waited for orders for an hour, until after my 15:00 deadline.
"You're free to go."  he told me.
"That's it?  May I kayak?"
"All we're allowed to do is inform you of the weather and offer assistance. "
No, he couldn't help me find a free place to stay.  He left.
I walked along the beach until I found a bar.  I checked the weather.  The forecast had improved.  The wind would remain force five tailwind for the rest of the day.
I was only two miles from the port.  I launched into the sunny fun.  Ten minutes in I was slammed by a breaking portside wave and knocked into the sandy water.  I summoned my super powers to keep my glasses on my face and rolled up in style.**
The marina in Kos is a beacon of hospitality and kindness.   They also have exceptional showers,  just don't try to wash your dishes in the bathroom sink.  It's not allowed.
*My dedicated readers will recall the other two: Ikarea's hot spring radiation and the Aegean resonating in my bones.
** They're tied on, but it's annoying to have them dangling.

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Nautical miles paddled: 16
Current location: 36.891175,27.302002


  1. Are kos and kalimnos nice? We've thought about going there for a climbing vacation...

  2. Yes. I'm told Kalimnos is s climbers paradise.