Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sea kayaking entry 4: Burgers and Skeeters

Fourth in a series...

For those starting here but needing to backstroke to the beginning:
The crew rose at 6 AM, and we were on the water by 7AM to be greeted by a stunning sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean waters.


We stopped at a duck blind after a few miles to re-group and ensure all were together as a crew. Someone spotted a good-sized crab in the shallows. Right away, the crab took his defensive posture with open claws ready to snag anyone who came near him. One of our clown scouts came near him - and yes, he got snagged. He got a lesson - the rest of us got a laugh. Someone then had a good idea to lift the crab on a paddle where everyone could get a better look at him.


During the row, many kayakers were mesmerized by the dozens of pelicans who often flew in single-file groups of 3 or 4. They floated seemingly without effort and gracefully just inches above the water surface as they searched for a meal in the water. Also, a few scouts and their dads had the good fortune of having porpoises surface and swim right by their kayaks.

The main objective of the day was to row several miles back across the Pamlico Sound with crosswinds and beach for a rest on the U.S. mainland - or so all but one scout understood.

On Tuesday evening, the idea was discussed of stopping briefly at an island apparently known to locals as ... um ... uh... ahem ... Bird Shit Island. Our guides tried to clean up the name for the boys by calling it Bird Crap Island. As a compromise, we all agreed to call it BSI.

Once we began rowing, however, our guides realized the waters near BSI were very shallow. They suggested we stay in deeper waters, bypass the Island, and row hard to reach a beach area at mainland.

After a hard, extended row in crosswinds and choppy waters, we all landed at mainland. Well all but one. One of the scouts still thought we were stopping at BSI. He made it there first - only to realize no one else stopped!. One of our guides rallied a local man to use his boat to go search for him. It didn't take long to find him, and he returned to a hero's welcome by his fellow scouts. He was promptly nicknamed "Gilligan", and his kayak was re-christened as the SS Minnow.


Once he re-joined the group, we were ready to head for our Wednesday night stop. Our guide knew a local marina/ferry slip where we could camp. More important, he knew the marina had an air-conditioned diner! We paddled another mile or so to the ferry slip and beached our gear.

What an oasis the marina restaurant was! The place was air-conditioned, and we got a great meal of burgers, fries, and cold drinks. We drank the place out of iced tea and lemonade, and several scouts put a serious dent in the Mountain Dew inventory. Having a nice place to relax, eat a fun, hot meal, wash our hands in a legitimate bathroom, play cards and shoot some pool was a nice break from the hard 3 days up to that point.

The woman who ran the place told us her life story. She wanted a car when she turned 16. Instead, her dad gave her a shrimp boat and told her to earn a living so she could buy her own car. She told us about her ex. She told us about her teenage son who now has three boats of his own - a shrimper and two others for group fishing and duck hunting trips.

Because most of her customers are fishermen, shrimpers, or just boaters, we guessed she rarely got to tell the stories because everyone in that area has lived basically the same life. Having fresh ears in the restaurant was good for burger revenue and good for story telling.

The restaurant closed around 3:30 which left us several more hours to deal with the sun. Fortunately, the manager allowed us to hang out on the deck of the restaurant overlooking the sound. We were also allowed to pitch our tents on the knob of land between the restaurant and the ferry slip. The building also acted as a nice wind block so we could easily use our camp stoves to prepare dinner.

As relaxing as the afternoon and dusk were, things suddenly took a turn for the bizarre as soon as it got dark. Seemingly out of nowhere, swarms of mosquitoes immediately made their presence known. Folks were running around trying to avoid them, sprinting to the bathrooms and back to tents, SMACKing their hands inside and outside of tents, and shouting OUCH! GET OUT! STOP IT! WHERE'D THEY COME FROM? and QUICK-GET IN THE TENT!


There was absolutely no problem in ensuring everyone was quickly settled in their tent for the night. But the fun wasn't over. The last thing I saw as I zipped my tent was lots of lightning bolts to the west. They were headed our way.


No comments:

Post a Comment