Today was a grueling paddle! Ten nautical miles of paddling straight into a 20-25 knot wind, with gusts that practically stopped us. And two miles paddling in less wind. For a total of 12.37 nautical miles of paddling today.
Imagine swimming the crawl stroke in one of those tiny wave pools. And not being able to stop. For fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty. And then you can take a break. For five minutes. And then you start again. And keep at it for six hours.
When we’d come to a headland of grass, we could tuck into the lee of the point and stop, without fear of being driven backwards or of our paddles being ripped from our hands.
The first headland had actual sand and we could climb out of our boats and stretch.
The following headlands were just grasses. We quickly lost all hesitation at just plunging the bows of our boats into the grasses and coming to a slow stop in the grass and mud.
Here we’d drink water, eat snacks, clean the salt off our sunglasses and just breathe without waves breaking into our laps.
My hat is encrusted with salt.
I’m lying in my tent, with a chorus of bumblebees around me, two and a half hours after getting off the water and I still feel like I’m on the water, my body floating up and down.
The wind was beating me down as I pulled my paddle blades across the molasses of the sea, with some underwater god begging for more.
Thank God for the headland grasses in the lee, at about one mile intervals, where we could take our short breaks and let our screaming muscles relax.
But then we came to a three-mile crossing, approaching Horseshoe Beach where we’d camped two months ago on our reconnaissance and planned to get more water.
For more than an hour we had no break.
Miss Pink would rise and drop, smacking the water surface hard between the troughs, like a motorboat. Smack. Smack. Smack.
And then the wind slowed. And my paddle sliced through the water like I was strong again, not just an aging old woman who the undersea gods like to taunt.
We got water. We used the porcelain toilets. We washed our hands and faces in fresh water with soap that came out of a dispenser. We dried our hands with the paper towels, which seemed like a joke. And we threw away two and a half days worth of trash.
And then we left. Across non-angry waters. With homes to look at for a few minutes, one even in the shape of a boat.
And then we paddled out into the islands, where three dolphins joined us and shorebirds and ospreys and cormorants abound. There is even an owl hooting at our camp.
And there’s not one, but two picnic tables.
Just when I was on the verge of screaming to the gods. Just when I thought the wind could be winning.
We are alive.
We are healthy.
We are adventurers.