Day 159

6/29-30/2014

At 23:00 I woke, gathered my things, and returned through the darkness passed the ruined city to my kayak. The back hatch was full of water. How had that happened? It was likely the result of a serious leak. If the enormous quantity of water had seeped into my boat in the last mile then there was no way I could make the crossing. Who knew when my next weather window would be.

I used my cooking pot to load the back compartment with sea water, dug sand out from underneath and examined the hull closely with a flashlight. I didn’t find a leak. Should I risk the crossing?

An hour later I was paddling in the dark. My weather window was short and depending on which forecast came true I might face an additional hour of bad weather at the end of my day.

With my headlamp on I was able to follow the bearing on my compass. No moon shone. This was the first time I used this deck light. It was dead in half an hour. The entire world was reduced to my small pool of light which rose and fell with the black water. I wanted dawn to come soon, but the wanting slowed time to crawl. Minutes took hours and that made me want all the more. I couldn’t see the waves, there was only my compass, my paddles pulling at the blackness, and me.

I turned my headlamp off and as my eyes began to adjust picked out the star closest to my bow. The problem with following the star was that my bow may have moved between when I turned my headlamp off and my eyes adjusted, so I repeated the star choosing a few more times before I was comfortable with my choice. Since I was heading almost due south, my star shouldn’t move that much in the remaining few hours of night.

Without my headlamp, the world opened up to me. The sea and sky were no longer black, but shades of grey with size and depth. Brilliant lightning shot out from my bow and paddles as they sliced through the water. White caps were white and I was in control, both of myself and my boat. I ate whole grain bread sticks that one of my friends in Alanya had bought for me and I saved for the crossing. I burst with energy and a song sprung forward.

“To sail on a dream on a crystal clear ocean,
To ride on the crest of a wild raging storm
To work in the service of life and living,
In search of the answers of questions unknown
To be part of the movement and part of the growing,
Part of beginning to understand,

Aye Calypso the places you’ve been to,
The things that you’ve shown us,
The stories you tell
Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit,
The men who have served you so long and so well

Hi dee ay-ee ooo doo-dle oh
Oo do do do do do doo-dle ay yee
Doo-dle ay ee

Like the dolphin who guides you, you bring us beside you
To light up the darkness and show us the way
For though we are strangers in your silent world
To live on the land we must learn from the sea
To be true as the tide and free as a wind swell
Joyful and loving in letting it be

Aye Calypso the places you’ve been to,
The things that you’ve shown us,
The stories you tell
Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit,
The men who have served you so long and so well

Hi dee ay-ee ooo doo-dle oh
Oo do do do do do doo-dle ay yee
Doo-dle ay ee“

I was thrilled. This was it. I was finishing my expedition. Two thousand five hundred nautical miles, one hundred and fifty nine days on the water and much more dealing with logistics in the field and waiting for the weather. And now, it was all coming to a climax. I sang loudly, victoriously, joyfully, as though I didn’t still have nine hours ahead of me.

The sky in the east began to lighten and eventually I could read my compass. The sun rose and a small bright green turtle ahead dove deep in the clear water.

To save energy I decided I would not roll to cool off while paddling. I could stay cool by filling my hat up with water and dumping it on my head. My long sleeve shirt protects me from the sun and keeps me cool when wet, though once it dries out it insulates. Since much of the crossing was at night and early morning I decided sun protection was less critical than keeping cool, so I paddled without a shirt. It turns out, my shirt protects me from akuilisaq chafing. It wasn’t bad, and had I only been out for the regular six to eight hours it would not have been a problem. But the chafing at five different locations on my body was bad and getting worse. With each passing hour I had less skin and more raw sweaty wounds torn wider and deeper.

Some 15 miles from land a common tern approached, flew four tight circles around me and headed off. A few moments later it came back and after two more turns left for good.

I checked my GPS every hour to make sure I was on schedule and on course. My course was fine. In the last hour I paddled only two nautical miles. Something was very wrong. There were two possible explanations for the slow progress: Icarus was sinking or I was fighting a current.

I could open up her back hatch, check and potentially save my kayak before everything was lost. The maneuver would entail a large risk. Opening the back hatch to begin with was not a good idea, but more than that, in order to see what was going on I would have to remove my sleeping bag backpack that was thoroughly wedged in. It was not a task smoothly performed on land and I could only guess how it would go while swimming next to the boat. My guess was not optimistic.

I decided to keep on paddling. I rocked Icarus to see if I could feel the water. I didn’t, but how sure could I be that I would? I was pretty sure, but I was also tired, and being tired affects one’s judgment. I now had an ongoing eye on my GPS’s speedometer. I was paddling between 1.5 and 2.5 knots, about a knot and a half slower than I liked.

I recalled the power of my GPS. I stopped my boat. As far as I could see, there was only the calm deep blue water and cloudless sky. But my GPS told me the secret my senses would not. I was moving north at about 1.5 knots.

My boat was not sinking, which meant the problem could not be solved except by turning back or heading on. If I continued at this pace I would run out of drinking water potentially a couple of hours before I finished. If I turned back I could return to the launch in good time if the current persisted. If it did not I would run out of drinking water.

I pushed on.

I had to poop. I would finish in a few hours. I could hold it.

The current died down. I was only two hours behind schedule.

My chia maca gogo juice ran out. My breadsticks ran out. I switched to the white bread I had with me. It tasted like bread fungus. Maybe that was a reflection on my exhausted state. The bread was fresh yesterday. I threw it out, if I ate it and I puked I would be worse off.

I did not want to hold my poop anymore. I set up a paddle float and scooted onto my back deck. I aimed my butt over the side. More or less sitting up, my balance was precarious. I got most of it directly into the water. The technique was not elegantly done, but that’s what happens when you try something at sea unpracticed.

Eleven miles from my destination I got my first glimpse through the haze at three Cypriot peaks. They vanished. But at least I knew I was on target. A few days earlier I saw Cyprus from Turkey, I had hoped to see it as early as dawn.

At seven miles I made out the headland I was aiming for, dead ahead.

Without food, those last two hours were hard. The closer I got to the end, the more I struggled for each stroke, the more the chafing gnawed into me, the harder I tried to force my mind to numb the pain. No breaks! Just keep paddling! Just go. Why can’t you just go. No stopping, not even for a moment.

A man on the beach waved to me.

The shore was rocky, but the water was shallow. I dropped out of my boat with an inelegant splash, and Haris, my new best friend, picked it up with me and we climbed ashore.

I rejoiced and thanked my god for seeing me through to the end of my quest in good health.* I had landed in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. My expedition was over and I was safe.

 

*His plan apparently did not include dental.

 

 

Nautical miles paddled: 37.5
Current location: 35.403896,32.920688

 

Prepping

6/29/2014

While loading my boat in the morning to paddle to my launch point, a middle aged man who’d seen me around introduced himself. Once he heard my story he offered to help me with anything I needed, anything at all, he and his apartment were at my service.

I paddled about a mile to a beach just shy of the rocky outcropping that is the southernmost tip of Turkey. Three hooligans sat in the narrow sliver of shade thrown by rocky outcropping and smoked a bong. Outside of their small shelter the sand was undoubtedly foot-cooking hot.

The plan was to land and then make my way on foot to the hospitality of my new friend. Spend the day resting, and launch at midnight for the best weather window. I tried some hand rolls, some worked, some didn’t. When I was done with my training the hooligans were still there. Oh well, maybe they were friendly. I got out and began to carry my boat across the sand. The hooligans did not offer to help. My feet pressed into the fire and were scorched. I lay my boat down in the shade of a cliff and sprinted into the sea.

There I rested and floated. All my energy had been sucked out of me by the pain. I reposed in the shallow water and small waves cradled me back and forth. As I recovered the hooligans began to chat with me. Their English was limited, but once they learned of my exploits they were excited to hear more.

A young gaunt man with running sores asked if he could try my boat. Letting people try my boat usually worked out alright since they typically capsized before getting anywhere, but Running Sore Face was short and bone thin. There was a chance he wouldn’t capsize. More than that, communication across the language barrier was hard so I couldn’t give him instructions.

I tried. I explained how he must not let the boat touch the sand or rocks, and how he must stay within ten meters of me at all times. I needed to be able to pull him up if he got trapped in the cockpit.

He understood and agreed. I held the boat while he got in then let go. He almost capsized, but panic driven effort managed to stay upright. He was having too much trouble with the paddle, so he threw it away. I swam and recovered it while he used his hands to scoot the boat out to sea.

It’s a fast boat and he’s a fast scooter. With the wind at his back, Running Sore Face was a hundred meters out in no time. He realized he had gone too far, but turning Icarus, especially without a paddle or skills, is hard. Icarus however knew which way she wanted to face. She likes to face into the wind, and so, slowly but surely, Running Sore Face managed to reverse course.

With all the speed he could muster he headed back towards the beach. I saw what he planned “Stop! Stop! Stop!” I yelled, but it was too late. He rammed her into the beach. I inspected her hull and Running Sore Face insisted she was fine. Maybe she was. After I insisted he helped my carry Icarus back to her spot in the shade.

The hooligan who spoke a little more English apologized for his friend.

“No harm done, I hope he had fun.”

He did. I believed now that they wouldn’t steal from me if I walked away. I took pictures of the Roman ruins. The hooligans walked passed me and instructed me not to take pictures of them.

I found the house of my new friend. He welcomed me in and invited me to use his kitchen, spare bedroom, shower, and refrigerator as though they were my own. He put the Simpsons on the the TV and I settled into a day of deep pre-crossing relaxation.

 

 

The Decision

6/27/2014

I was invited to stay in the large back room of a beach restaurant. I passed my first day waiting for an answer from Alanya relaxing at the beach . The employees were a bunch of gracious teenagers who encouraged me to make myself comfortable and I didn’t see much of the owner.

In the night men with camouflage uniforms and machine guns woke me. Two were young and stood alert and serious with their weapons at their sides. An officer, a middle aged, portly man spoke to me in English.

“Do you speak Turkish?” I was awake like lightning, said “no.” and scrambled for my passport on demand. I was escorted to the light of the kitchen where a henchman held my documents up for the Paunchy’s examination. Apparently he had not expected everything to be in order. He handed me back my passport and asked “What is the purpose of your stay here in Turkey? “ he almost chuckled, as though he already knew the answer and wanted to hear it first hand.

“I’d like to speak to a United States ambassador please, ” I said a little sharply.

“What?” he asked.

“I choose not to answer your question. You’ve established that I am here legally. I am not breaking any law. Am I free to go? “

“Yes,” he said hesitantly.

I went back to bed. The soldiers spoke with the manager.

The next day I got word from Alanya. The people there who had suggested they could escort me decided three knots was just too slow. I couldn’t cross.

A man on the beach spoke English. I told him my story and he was impressed. The manager spoke to us and my new friend translated. I had to go since I was sketchy and my papers were undoubtedly not in order and he didn’t want trouble with the authorities.

My new friend hosted me for a couple of days. I spent them trying to hitchhike with my boat and a sign. My trip was over, I couldn’t make the crossing and to go farther East would bring me ever closer to the war in Syria.

I ate well and rested well and wasn’t able to catch a ride before recapturing my confidence. The sea isn’t calm every night, but it will be on Sunday. I’ll launch at 23:00 and hopefully arrive 12 hours later.

It’s a good thing too, because my host is ejecting me.

Day 158

6/25/2014

I roll often to keep my cool and to keep my skills sharp. With my winged paddle I’m trying to learn a reverse sweep and with my storm paddle to spine roll. But above all, I’m trying to recapture my lost hand roll – no, it’s not sushi – it’s to roll without any paddle at all. Today I nailed three out of three. I’m not past the touch and go phase, but it’s really encouraging to continue to feel my skills improving.

I was, in fact, so encouraged that I thought ‘Maybe I do want to try to make the crossing from Cyprus to Haifa after all.’ First I need to get to Cyprus.

I’ve been studying the weather over the last few days out at sea. I studied the forecast for the next week. It can’t be safely done solo this time of year. For four to eight hours of every day, peaking in the afternoon, strong west winds cover the sea with white caps.

I made camp at the base of a preserved Roman city, as close to Cyprus as I could get. I saw it. Beyond the wind and the waves sat an island, impervious to the afternoon tempest. Hanging victory for the foolhardy to reach for, and fall.

I found a third century bathhouse. … It was no longer functional.

There are no sailboats here, so I won’t find an escort. I wrote back to the Alanya marina and waited.

Nautical miles paddled:14
Current location: 36.020073,32.803556

Day 157

6/24/2014

The mountains rose from the sea.   I explored caves and said hello to sea turtles.  Past the hotels the water cleared and I watched fish swim among reefs beneath me. Monolithic islands and curling rocks slid past on either side.  The mountain forests were decorated with pink flowered bushes.   Terraced banana plantations spotted with shacks and bare walled unadorned houses rolled along the hills.  Under a Roman castle I paddled through a tunnel into a mountain lagoon. Two damsels frolicked in the paradise, one on a small beach and the other in the water.

The swimmer saw me.  Her face contorted into panic as I smiled and said hello.  With speed that comes from practice bonding with terror she shrouded her head and face in a scarf and hunched over in the water, becoming no more visible than a distant turtle.  The beach damsel smiled at me and was rebuked by the cowering sea damsel. The beach damsel had something harsh to say back and was rebuked more severely.  Slowly she began to don her scarf as well.

I felt awkward, as though I had stumbled on these fully dressed women naked snorting coke.   Maybe they were mermaids and having been discovered in their human form were under my power.  I left.

A seagull hovered just in front of me and floated on the wind.  It cawed again and again before it left.  It came back,  and insisted.  I worried it would attack me.  It hovered and cawed in front of my boat for longer than any mortal seagull could, then after a brief break on shore repeated the process a third time.  In retrospect, I did not try sufficiently to help it break the language barrier.  After a fourth and final attempt it parted for good.  I can’t help but wonder what secret message was meant for my ears, and lost because I’ve never been very good at listening.

Yakacik is a small village with a tiny natural harbor that is home to five fishing boats and, for one night, a kayak.

Nautical miles paddled: 18
Current location: Yakacik harbor

Day 156

6/22/2014

After two days and a Sabbath I still hadn’t replaced my broken phone, camera, or Nalgene bottle. I did, however, find glasses goofy enough that they were cheap, and a sponge, and I had time to repair my boat, paddle float, vhf, and winged paddle. I was ready to leave.  I also charged my batteries and checked all my gear for the upcoming crossing to Cyprus, I was in the resor town of Alanya.

A Canadian couple living on a boat near mine invited me over for fruit smoothies every morning and a Dutch couple let me use their computer to stay in touch with my family and plan my next few days.  They all came to see me off,  take pictures, and wish me luck.

A peninsula protrudes from the center of Alanya.  It meets the sea with sharp red cliffs mounted by ancient fortifications and a long ruined Roman city.

Triple masted hotel party boats swarmed the scenic headland blasting pop music interrupted by announcements in a spread of languages.  

One of the boats was heading straight at me, hugging the cliffs almost as closely as I was. I could cut out and around, but with all the traffic, I felt safer where only I could go,  even if the hotel sea monster was trying to cut into my space.

The giant stopped and tourists began throwing pieces of bread over the gunwales from the deck and upper two stories.

A crewman minion saw me about to squeeze between the stationary boat and the cliffs.   There was enough room for me to proceed safely,  but he yelled at me not to anyways. The minions may control the beaches, but here at sea I have the right of way. 

Halfway up the cliff face aligned with the gulet’s upper stories a van-sized cave mouth caught my attention.  Above precipice stood a young shirtless man in a red bathing suit.  I paddled past and wondered what the minions were up to.

I turned the corner of the peninsula and squeezed between a smaller gulet and the wall, and then past another large one.  Towards the end of the lineup, now on the opposite side of the peninsula, a man in red shorts dived off of a moving gulet.  I watched, wondering if I was about to participate in a rescue, but with trained monkey agility he scaled the rock face and vanished.

I closed in to get a closer look.  Three small holes above four meters of rocks pierced into the earth.  Maybe a fellow on his belly could squeeze through.

I explored a large colorful cave.  I wound between shallow rocks and others that cut above the surface and sported bright orange and red growths.  Under the surface lichen shouted out with more fantastic contrasting colors.

The walls were covered with yellow and green oozing goo turned to stone over millenia.
Water dripped from the ceiling and I lay my head onto my back deck and gazed.  The cavern did not smell fresh like running water as they often do,  but rather like Harvey T’s gerbil home.  Something was chirping or squeaking in the darkness above and I looked for bats.   I didn’t see any, but there was another chamber that had a ground floor; maybe they were in there.

I passed crenulations and a large intact red stone tower before I cut out to sea to avoid downtown Alanya.

I’m running out of Chia seeds and what I have left is reserved for my Turkey / Cyprus crossing.  Paddling on low grade fuel is less fun.

I left the last of the hotel fortresses of evil and motorboat turtle-slaying oil-leaking sea beasts behind.  The beaches were public and the mountains free.  Some folk invited me to stop for beer, I rolled in gratitude and moved on.

I looked up at the cliffs and admired the wild beauty of the place when something just ahead of me in the water caught my attention.   A turtle surfaced and I was on a collision course.  I didn’t want to startle it with and abrupt stroke, and I didn’t want to hit.  So I froze and glode.  I hoped it would see me.  Maybe at the last moment it did and dived, or maybe I did hit it.  I’m not sure, but I hope and believe it was okay.

I explored one last radon red rock cave with two entrances separated by a pillar.  The setting sun illuminated the native stone and the colorful water stones that grew in the corners.

My upcoming 37.5 mile crossing will be three halves of what I did today.  I hope I’m up for it. I hope the weather is good.  As with my other long crossings,  it’ll be where the distance is shortest and the bottleneck can make for rough conditions.

Many years ago someone half built a marina in Gazipasa.  The outer sea walls were solid, but inside there were no pontoons or sidewalks beyond the concrete edges of the harbor, just dirt, weeds, and a handful* of half finished buildings.

Folk passed me making camp on the dock and to the friendly ones I told my story.  I could answer some of the frequent  questions across the language barrier,  but mostly communication was an uphill battle.

I’m approaching Eastern Turkey, past the edge of the earth.

*Titan hands.

Nautical miles paddled: 25
Current location: North corner of Gazipasa marina

Day 155

6/18/2014

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.

Day 154

6/17/2014

Another day like the last, more unhappy turtles.

I passed a river with cool slightly stinky dark water running into the sea.  I rolled and reveled in the chill.  It’s getting so hot that just rolling in regular water doesn’t always cool me off any more.  Sometimes I just sit upside down and reach down deep to let my heat disperse with the sea.

Early in the afternoon a sharp headwind picked up.  I pulled over to a water sports center and was welcomed off the water on my first try.

After I was situated to wait out the wind I went back out to practice rolling on the rough water.  I kept getting pushed into a buoy rope that separated the water sports from the swimmers.  I lost my glasses.  I used to tie my glasses on in two places, but that was when I was surfing on big wave s every chance I got.  Over the winter, when I was barely rolling, I fell out of the habit of losing my glasses.

I wandered onto the hotel’s section of the beach and a security guard quickly and brusquely turned me back.


Nautical miles paddled:  13

Current location: Errr… yep.  This was easier when I had a chart and/or a computer.

Day 153:

6/16/2014

Another day of gaudy beach hotels, speedboats, jet skis, and all the ostentatiousness money can buy.

I passed two large turtles and mourned for what my race had done to their home.

Sometimes there was a break in the temple to cheap thrills and greed and I passed dunes that argued for solace and peace. Along those dunes the water was shallow and reefs scraped at the bottom of my kayak. I could identify the worrisome sections from a short distance away, and should have chosen to turn hard and give them a wide berth. Instead I tried to pick my way through the treacherous hull skinning water. I realized that the only way to go was back, but thought just maybe I could go forward. I hate going back.

And I did get through, though I would definitely need to remember to examine my hull at the end of the day. It was probably fine.

One of the folks in charge of the previous day’s water sports center told me he was a professor of physical education at Ankara University. He presented me with a slip of paper that I should show at the university’s campground, so that they would feed and shelter me.

I found the campground. It was in fact a budget hotel for students. I showed the slip to the reception and they offered to let me stay for 100 lira a night. No, I could not use their internet if I was not a guest.

I made friends with a university worker picking up garbage around the beach chairs. He told me I could sleep on one of the chairs for the night, which was nice. They were both cushioned and off of the sand.

In the middle of the night someone pointed a flashlight in my eyes and spoke forcefully “Yadda wing wooba gump!”

“Hi, I’m Dov. I kayaked here from Spain. I have permission to sleep here.

“Slump gerfp.”” He answered and left me to fall right back to sleep.

Nautical miles paddled: 15
Current location: 36.813408,31.311561