Monday, July 21, 2014

Day 155


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.

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