In the night the mosquitoes buzzed around me.
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
Love the sea turtle encounter. Did we tell you how jealous we are of your adventure?? — 2 NYers, YPRCers, wish we’d met you when you were here. TBD, yes?ReplyDelete
I will definitely be paddling with the my favorite club again, very possibly this September.ReplyDelete
Excellent! Let us know when you'll be here. Presumably, you're arriving by airplane. :)ReplyDelete
Alas, but there are limits to where I can paddle on short notice.ReplyDelete
Neimands seem to attract sea turtles. I saw the first one snorkelling with mom in the florida keys, and see them now at least once during any tropical vacation. but i always seem them underwater, with a mask on. In Australia i had a nice chat with a very old turtle. hirsute with algae and pierced like a punk with fishhooks in her lipsReplyDelete