Kayak on the water, paddling trips

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Always protect yourself

Weather : Sunny then cloudy
Wind (km/h) : ESE 8, ESE 13, SSE 21 gust 30, SSE 24
Temp. : 25 - 29 °C

Location : Parc national des îles-de-Boucherville, Québec, Canada

After a month, the landscape has greatly changed. Summer has been very dry, the beach has widened so much that now we must muck around in cloying gray clay.

Today is a first, my sister has joined. This allowed me to go solo. Second time this summer. As I am always in the front my rudder controlling abilities are not as efficient as my paddling stroke and this was to prove difficult towards the end of the day...

As we paddled our way out of the channel, we were amazed at the spread of the marshes. We even saw Momma deer with 2 bambis casually strolling along the dry coast... The last stretch before reaching the Seaway proved difficult. My rudder sinking into the soft clay, weeds everywhere. After finally freeing my rudder and pulling it up I noticed that the rudder wouldn't stay up and holding the cord around my wrist maneuvered out. Passing another solo, I heard the lament "this is too slow, I'm tired". The author of this line was female and I chuckled as I thought that it was an engine trouble more then anything else as I saw her paddling technique.

Finally out on the seaway, small waves from the light breeze and boats rocked on the side of the rented plastic Muktuk (Boreal Design). The seat is a bit high and the rudder was not in great shape. As we leisurely paddled towards our lunch, we could see sand bars and rocks usually invisible.

The first Island was already inhabited, but the second was up for grabs. Using my holiday paddling muscles I glided over quickly in order to claim it before anyone else. The sun was high and hot. The bug infestation from the last time we had visited this Island seemed to be finished. Settling on a small mound, on one side we could see the seaport with its mountains of minerals awaiting transport. The other side was a green and forestry haven.

We also saw a huge Canmar Triumph being turned around by a miniscule tugboat. A quick Google and the ship is part of the CP Ship fleet (container shipping company), its itinerary Montreal-Mediterranean.

As we finished our lunch that wind had shifted and gotten stronger. The acadian flag dancing valiantly on top of the mast. Wondered if I could keep up with them once the sail was out. However, once on the water the wind shifted and the sail was stored away.

Ever since the holiday adventures, my belly seems to become quite skittish when the wind blows. This pushes me to paddle anxiously... I soon found myself at the entrance of the marshes. Thick weeds everywhere, gulls standing up... ummmmm, not good, says I. So I continued paddling searching the water for signs of an entrance with enough water to get through. Saw a double coming from the marshes and decided to observe which direction they would take. However, they soon beached and had to get out to push their kayak. I resumed my search, and soon came across a breach, slowly but surely went through the narrow path.

Libellule's captain was bellowing at me to stop. A breakfast of coffee and cigarettes, a lunch of beer and cigarettes with the hot sun, not pretty. So we anchored onto a bunch of large marshes as the wind tried to push us out and rested... The Captain wanted to backtrack and go up the river on the other side. I veteod that idea, it was longer and the wind was stronger, at least in the marshes we were protected. So we inched our way through, just enough water to be able to paddle with my rudder up.

I like paddling without it because my awareness of the wind/water is greater. My sister was feeling hungry and although I was a bit anxious about the final stretch I figured it would be better to stop and stretch the legs a bit and eat some food for energy. We beached on the side and my sandals stuck in the stronghold of the gray clay. Leopard frogs jumped about as we pulled up the kayaks. We could hear the boat traffic and the wind. The Captain decided that I would have to tow them back, wondered how I could and then decided that I had no idea and would figure it out when the time came.

As we reached the river, the wind was gusting and there were many, many boats speeding up and down, I was constantly pushed towards the coast and had to keep paddling to stay on course. Captain bellowed out that I was to tie the front of Libellule to my rear. Doing so, the waves came bullying us back to land. As I set out the rope became taut and I paddled with all my might. A flashback of the holidays, when I had to pull Libellule off the sandy beach. Each stroke was draining my energy, and sneakily the rope became entangled in my rudder. Between the wind, waves and Libellule things were getting difficult. I finally requested that the rope be untied. The Captain was now blue and bellowing my unusefulness.

From my perspective, I wouldn't be able to continue at this rate, unable to free my rudder the waves and wind were too strong for me to control the direction with paddling and my weight. Lack of experience with the rudder didn't help either, neither did the Captain's words. I untied the rope and regained control. I looked back, and saw that they were paddling and moving, a very good and reassuring combo at this point.

Constant checking of the waves occupied my every move as I continued onwards. When I reached the entrance of the channel, I awaited Libellule. The final stretch was done in a solemn manner. The Captain was outraged that I had left them behind, I stated my reality at that moment and moved on. Weaving behind and in front of the boat people... Tried to find another landing spot with less muck, but didn't and I quickly sunk in the mud, holding onto the kayak for support as I pulled on my sandaled foot to liberate them from the suction.

Following this years mishaps, realize that wind is definitely making me uncomfortable. It's words warning me of any foolhardy attempts to outsmart it.

Wind, I say to thee, you have my respect and fear in the palm of your hand. I will not, now or never outsmart thee, but I will learn to live with thee!

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