Day 121

4/3/2014

Artvali and I threw my kayak on the car and headed to the port. He warned me that I may not be permitted to pass through the Corinth Canal that day as I had planned, and that a covert entrance would be absolutely impossible. If I had any trouble, I should call him. He could come with a kayak cart in his trunk to assist my portage.

I cut a straight line from Xylokastro to Corinth. Gone was the tailwind that hurtled me forward the proceeding days. The mountains turned to hills and converged at the end of the Gulf of Corinth in front of me. A sailboat glided effortlessly in the wind a few miles to my north.

They were headed toward the canal. I met the Australian sailors near the entrance waiting for the oncoming boats to pass and the canal’s traffic direction to change.

Under the assumption that I would not be allowed to enter under my own power, I hatched a plan. I would tie my kayak to a sailboat, with the captain’s permission, pass through the gate at the entrance, and then release the line and paddle under my own power.

The captain did not agree, but recommended I talk to the canal controller. I pulled out my radio.

“Corinth Canal this is Kayak Dov.”

“This is Corinth Canal, what is the name of your vessel?”

“Corinth Canal, my call sign is Kayak Dov.”

“What is your vessel type?”

“I’m a kayak.”

“Are you a motor yacht or a sailing yacht?”

“I’m a kayak.”

“Can you repeat? Are you a motor yacht or a sailing yacht?”

“Kay-yak.”

“Can you spell it?”

I rattled off “Kilo-alpha-yankee-alpha-kilo delta-oscar-victor.”

“Please repeat, slowly.”

Slowly, “Kilo. Alpha. Yankee. Alpha. Kilo. Delta. Oscar. Victor.”

“Please hold your position and wait for instructions.”

“Copy.” I replied.

I held my position and waited for instructions. I didn’t wait long; I decided to go talk to them in person. There was a lone two story house at the entrance to the canal with some antennas, on on the roof. The Australians thought that this was the Corinth Canal station location.

I paddled up to it. With an electrical robot noise, a video camera mounted on the edge of the roof changed it’s angle so that it was looking directly at me. I tried to communicate with hand waving that the person operating the camera should come out of the house and say hello.

The video watched me, but no one came out.

I pulled my boat onto the beach and walked up to the house. It was locked.

There were other people on the beach, and lots of dogs. There was a drawbridge two hundred meters inland along the canal with a booth for the conductor. Maybe he was Corinth Canal. I didn’t want to leave my boat unguarded with potential hooligans in the vicinity, but I did want to go the booth.

I went towards the booth. The dogs barked and snarled at me. I tried to watch them but they circled around me so that I could only see a few of them. As I walked, I radiated peace and love, and they left me alone.

I met the man in the booth. I explained how important it was that I be allowed through. The alternative was to paddle roughly 500 miles around through potentially terrible conditions. The canal was constructed in 1891; surely countless non motorized boats had passed through it in decades past.

The man told me I couldn’t go through the canal now, as the strong current would move against me. It changes approximately every six hours. I should return the next morning and maybe the current would flow in the right direction. The canal is closed at night. There are no current tables.

There’s a bar at the entrance to the canal with a patio on the water. It seemed like a perfect place to camp. I approached the bar. It was clearly closed for the season, but four or five people sat inside and chatted.

I knocked on a glass door. A woman approached and communicated with me in Greek that they were closed for the season. I still don’t speak any Greek, but I can get across the basics of “I kayaked here from Spain, can I please sleep in your porch with my boat for the night?” if only I’m given a chance. The woman wouldn’t open the door, and I couldn’t get my request through it. She walked away, uninterested in the crazy American outside, and then I, too, dejectedly returned to my boat.

I paddled a mile and a half back to the port and made camp on a long-deserted motor boat.

Current location: 37.941561, 22.936013
Nautical miles paddled: 22.6

Day 120

4/2/2014

A sailor told me that the Corinth Gulf is considered a rough sea. The wind is always strong. It blows a few days east-west, then changes for a few days of west-east. I wanted to make it to the end of the gulf before the wind changed against me and I got nailed down.

I pulled out of the port into the tailwind and flew.

Sunny snow-capped three thousand foot mountains shone over the gulf. Whitecaps rode the sea and the world was full of light.

Where was I? I took a bearing which did not match the spot where I expected to be. I took another bearing off a point behind me and was further distraught. I examined my chart and found a point that matched my bearings. It was almost twice as far as my initial estimate.

I found a fat bald swimmer and tried to ask the name of the town, but after he learned I was American he would only grunt at me. I waved my paddle and got the attention of some hooligans near the beach. They didn’t seem to want to talk to me either, but when I called out the name of the town they confirmed.

I paddled 33.5 miles in 8 hours. Never have I paddled so far so fast. I rolled for joy and pulled into the port in Xylokastro. I was greeted by a man who was excited to see a kayaker. He called his friend who makes kayaks.

Artvali showed up and invited me into his home. I showed off my own traditional paddles and had an amazing tour of beautiful Alution and Greenland skin-on-frame kayaks and paddles. His home was a temple to the paddle gods and a gateway to heaven. It also has a hot shower.

I inspected his boats closely; they are really nice. If any of you paddlers out there are ready for a new custom designed high performance paddle or boat, skin on frame or kevlar, at a great price contact Artvali.

Current location: 38.081431,22.62294

Day 119

4/1/2014

The tail wind grew stronger throughout the day.  Waves wooshed me along at fantastic speeds.  The sun made the world bright and hazy at the same time.

A fin emerged from the water ahead.  What was it?  Was it garbage?  Was it a diver’s flipper?  No diver would be out in this weather.  Could it have been a sacred dolphin?  I only saw the fin, if it was a dolphin I would have seen more.  Maybe it was a shark.  I looked around to see where the dolphin would next emerge.

A few moments later I saw it again in the same place.  It wasn’t a dolphin. 

Continuing forward at full speed I passed about 20 feet from it.  The agitation in the water made it hard to see.  It was probably garbage.  It was about 100 yards behind me when I decided to go back and investigate.  I turned into the wind and fought for every one of those yards.

For a moment, there were two parallel opposing fins angled away from each other emerging from the water a couple of meters apart.  Hovering just below the surface, sometimes slightly emerging, was an enormous sting ray.  A large eye opened for just a moment, only a few feet from me.

I held my position, difficult in the surf, and took care not to get any closer and risk collision.

The creature drifted slowly down and out of sight.

I surfed as many of the waives as I could and learned a new trick.  When my bow began to pearl I found that by dropping my torso weight onto my back deck I could pull out of it without losing the wave.  With my steering and forward strokes limited from the position, I sometimes lost the wave anyways.  But sometimes I held onto it, and I was really proud to have a new skill.

I paddled to Aigio, 18.5 miles, in four hours which was probably something of a record.  I’d been making great progress lately, and it was nice to have an easy day with a little bit of extra time to catch up on my writing.

Current location: 38.261603,22.074267

Day 118

3/31/2014

I woke up happy. I was clean and in a bed. I got out of bed and ached, a parting gift from the Headwind of Doom.

The marina had a community of sailboats. Happy sailors worked to update their sailing yachts from winter storage to summer sailing mode. Word had gotten around that the kayak that appeared yesterday on the dock had traveled very far, so I regaled enthusiastic fellow seamen with my stories of personal heroism.

The owners of the Gaia built their own 63-foot catamaran back in the 80s and invited me for a tour. It was a beautiful and sturdy boat. I wondered what it would be like to build a sailboat and sail the world. They could teach me. Maybe after my trip I’ll go find out.

After my stories and my tour and a trip to the supermarket, I had a really late start. But that was okay, the days are now sunny and long and full of joy.

I paddled out of the port down the two mile canal to the Gulf of Patras and then swung a left along the beach. Joy? More like ache.

Thirteen miles off, barely visible in the mist, were the four towers of the 1.5 mile suspension Rio bridge that separates the Patras gulf from the Corinth gulf. The bridge signified passing from peripheral Greece to central Greece.

I rolled through the clear water to cool down when I was warm. Despite the ache, I made good progress with a tailwind and current.

The towers were built like torches. The bridge was a victory arch. The enormity of the construction connected with the enormity of my adventure. The current carried me under the milestone and I celebrated.

I pulled up to a restaurant with a small dock and made camp behind. The owner was not receptive to my hints that I was open to additional hospitality. But I have water and am safe from weirdos. Tomorrow I’ll get an early start.

Nautical miles paddled: 23.5
Current location: 38.309037,21.788715

Day 117

3/30/2014

I didn’t have any food, so I couldn’t stay in the fishing camp. I decided to cross the red line and paddle into force five headwinds. Perhaps I could find shelter on the inland sea that paralleled much of my route.

On Friday I took out of shallow water after some gorilla scooting and laid my kayak for the weekend on the edge of an overgrown road.

Over the Sabbath the water crept away. Now that it was time to launch, I surveyed a mud flat.

My boat was loaded. I lifted it onto my shoulder and trudged forward. Two thirds of the way, I lay the boat down on the mud. I could not carry it farther.

I planted a leg on either side of the front of the cockpit, gripped the combing, lifted and swung the boat forward about half a meter. And repeat.

A flock of egrets took off and the sun watched my struggle on the flats as it climbed higher in the sky. I made it to some water, but it wasn’t deep enough. Rinse and repeat. Three inches, then four. The water was deep enough and I took off.

I paddled across a clear blue bay, under a mountain, and then around a corner into the wind. Waves broke onto the beach to my left. A thick, deep stream flowed from a break in the sand. It was my first access to the inland sea, and earlier than I expected.

My chart showed that the inland sea was separated by a series of islands. The Google satellite map showed a road between the inland sea and the outer along with several barriers that segregated the inland sea into possibly unconnected sections. It was hard to tell from the image.

Nautical charts are usually some combination of new surveys, satellite data, and old charts. Since old charts used similar haphazard methods, some mistakes have survived a very long time. That being said, the charts are sufficiently reliable so that if you stake your life on them, as those of us who do not rely on GPSs often do, you’ll probably be alright. Those of you who do rely on GPSs are building a world in which we will be ruled by robots.

I turned into the stream and punched through 30 meters of intense current. I hoped the conditions would be better on the other side.

I paddled inland for about five minutes before the water got so shallow I had to gorilla scoot. I was free for about five minutes then had to do it again. The head wind was just as ferocious inside as it was out, so I turned back the way I came.

But the waves were definitely calmer on the inside, and maybe the wind was calmer there also. I resolved to try again the next chance I got.

Some time ago I resolved never to paddle into force five headwinds again. And here I was, battling through a 22 mile force four – five cocktail of paddle grappling hat launching frenzy, because a small dog with sweet eyes managed to unzip my duffle and eat my uncooked rice.

I found another entry to the inner sea. I paddled under a footbridge and waved to a man overhead. He didn’t speak English, but effectively communicated that I would have to exit the same way I entered, since all the other ways out were sealed against small boats.

Frustrated, I turned around. The water along the beach became very shallow, but I stuck to it hoping that near land the wind and current would be less fierce. I was setting a personal record for most Gorilla scooting in one day.

The next two passages into the inner sea were blocked by fences down to the water.

I was at least three quarters of the way there when I got in. I saw the tiny houses of Mesolongi far off. The inner sea was very shallow. After I gorilla scooted for a while, the water was still not deep enough to paddle properly, so I swung my arms forward, grabbed the sand, and thrust my hips. I am sorry to say, my hip thrust muscles are not as developed as my arm muscles, from kayaking.

A couple of enormous fish, taller than the water was deep, waddled off and vanished into the shallow murkiness. In the distance I saw white caps. The water was deep there, so that’s where I went.

After another half hour of fighting the wind, I came to a fence jutting out of the water and crossing the sea. The first gap I tried to fit through was a little too small. I paddled along it for another hundred meters and found one that was large enough after I nudged the posts a little. The other side of the fence was only half built.

I wondered what would happen if the wind got any worse. Would I get out and walk? Though I was at least a couple of kilometers from land, the water was only a couple of feet deep.  The wind did not get worse; it got better.

I arrived near the port. Masts rose from just behind the forest. Next to land, I was sheltered and the water was calm. A woman herded sheep along the shore and I asked her where where the entrance to the port was.

I paddled up a strong stream and around a couple of corners between houses. I found a wide canal with a larger entrance of to my left. Along its banks were tin shacks and ramshackle boathouses, some half sunk in the canal. This is how I imagine a port might look in Raganda.I paddled to the intersection with another canal.

The whole area was enlarged on my chart, excluding the stream, so I knew where to go to find the very nice marina. “There’s a kayak club right over there,” the dock worker told me after we introduced ourselves and I was out of my boat. All I had to do was paddle another 200 meters.

I would sooner shovel shit naked on the tundra. I paddled 22 miles in ten hours of soul crushing weather. I ran out of food three hours ago. I ran out of water an hour and after that. I was done paddling for the day. I hobbled to the kayak club where I met the goddess Kalliope. She manages the grounds and is a beautiful energetic sprinter.

Kalliope told me how happy the club was to host the Serbian olympic kayaking team last week and how happy they were to host me now. After a hot shower, a soft bed with clean sheets waited for me.

Nautical miles paddled: 21

Current location: 38.360486,21.416813

Day 116

3/29/2014

It was time to leave Kalamos. But the epoxy patch from the day before was not dry. The instructions said it should take three hours. I had left my kayak in the shade and epoxy dries faster in the sun. I slapped some duct tape on it as well as on another spot that looked suspiciously like a leak.

The sun was out and shining on me, so I put on my t-shirt and packed my neoprene jacket in the hull.

I launched and it began to rain. With sharpness, soft rain became ferocious, then stopped. The wind blew from the south as I headed southeast. In the middle of the 8.5 mile crossing from Kalamos towards Astakos the sea calmed. I aimed my boat towards the narrow space between an island and a peninsula. The view was momentarily obscured by fog.

I heard the sea crashing ahead. Then I felt the south wind. It was stronger than ever. I fought into it. I fought into the surf that crashed around the point and turned east. The wind was stronger than ever. The waves were larger. They bounced off the cliffs and clapped me in their thunder.

Slap. Woosh. Whoa! I started to capsize. I accepted the idea and prepared to roll up on the other side. “No!” my inner voice screamed. “Fight it!” I heard from somewhere inside of me.

With my left shoulder submerged, I sculled my paddle back and halted the downward momentum. I sculled it forward and took control. I sculled it back once more and came up.

My water bottle was tied on behind me, but no longer secured by bungees and dragged. I managed to twist around and fix it without capsizing. I had three more close calls and both my shoulders were in the water before I reached the shelter of the islands.

My goal was to reach Oxia, a beautiful desert island, by 17:00 in order to have time to set up camp for the Sabbath.

I passed an industrial port. A series of huge cranes towered above the water. Stadium size warehouses and fields of concrete stretched out behind the wharf.

The storm hit. Torrential rain drenched everything in the sudden darkness. Lightning cracked the sky overhead and thunder pounded between the cliffs and the islands. Gusts thrust me towards the port, and I fled with them.

I found a boat ramp wide enough for five kayaks to line up against and got out. My cockpit had been warm and my shorts dry(ish). Now I was soaked to the bone and cold. Beyond the parking lot I saw an office. Tired as I was from my difficult crossing and with lightning flashing overhead, I intended to ask to stay the night.

I chose not to put on warm land clothing. If I was not allowed to stay, then I would need to put my rain-wet land clothing into a dry bag and be stuck with it in the evening.

I ran across the parking lot. I saw a fence between me and the office. I smelled “high security zone.” I decided not to jump it. I ran to one of the warehouses as buckets of water continued to be unleashed by the tempest.

The warehouse was closed. I found shelter in a doorway. I stood, shivered, and waited.

A company of men in bright orange jumpsuits approached me. They smiled and welcomed me into their small, warm, smoke filled office. Was there anything they could get me? Was I okay?

The port’s security showed up.

“Stay here,” I was commanded.

I stayed. I sat near the door to breathe less cigarette smoke. It was cold there.

Another guard came. This was a private port. I was not allowed to be there. They interviewed me. My answers were not entirely believable, though I did get points for creativity.

I was instructed to get into the security vehicle. We drove to my kayak and I got my passport out. Now that they’d seen my boat I was making progress. I also changed from my t-shirt to my neoprene jacket which cut back on the shivering.

My passport was examined by the head guard. “You are in this country illegally,” he declared.

My US passport was recently issued in Italy. It had no stamps in it.

“I paddled from Italy to Othoni. They don’t even have police there, let alone someone to stamp passports.”

“You should have gotten it stamped in Korfu,” he told me.

I suspect that would have been a considerable detour. I realized that I didn’t need my passport stamped in Greece at all, since I paddled from Italy which is an EU country!

“Only Europeans can travel freely in the EURozone. Americans still need to get their passports stamped,” he insisted.

I could not stay in the port. I had to leave as soon as the weather was good enough. He would take my passport to the authorities before returning it to me while I waited in the office.

In the office they offered me milk and cookies. It was nice and warm. They fellow who was watching me was impressed by my blog.

“Do you have a fever?” he asked me. “We have a doctor. Would you like to see a doctor?”

I explained how in my kayak I was working hard and warm and my patheticness was temporary.

The head guard came back and confirmed my passport was real. The storm had passed so it was time for me to leave.

A marsh stretched out between the mountains and reached for the islands, leaving a narrow channel. A flock of egrets took flight.

A fence protruded from the water and blocked my path. It looked like it connected the marsh to the island. I did not intend to turn back and go all the way around the island. I paddled along the fence. Branches and steaks were connected by a plastic fence.

I found a gap and paddled through it. A dog barked. I heard a motorboat. Behind me and to the right was a small shack built over the water next to the fence. The dog barked there and the motor came towards me.

I continued on my way. They would catch me eventually. The water was smooth and flat. I was able to maintain about four knots. The man at the motor gradually realized he would not catch me eventually and hollered and hooted to get me to stop.

I waited and when he caught up with me we learned that we didn’t have a mutual language. But he managed to communicate to me where the exit gap in the fence was up ahead so that I wouldn’t feel I needed to go back and around when I discovered I was trapped.

Goats grazed on the largely desert islands just a few feet above me. I passed two small skinny cows that looked at me and wondered.

It was 17:00. I saw Oxia in the distance, but I didn’t want to cut my arrival too close to the Sabbath. My excursion in the port had cost me too much time.

A small hut was built half on an island and half on a deck over the water. A boat was tied up the the tiny dock. The walls were plastic sheeting bound by a pipe frame. Wherever I stopped, I would need water.

I guessed that whoever built this place, if he ever came around, brought water with him.

I continued on. A small group of houses sat on the other side of a bay above the marsh. I paddled towards them, making my way through a maze of streams and grasses. Frogs croaked.

The houses, built on ground that was barely elevated above the mud, were mostly shacks with fences. A dirt road wound between them. I wandered through the permanent fishing camp looking for water. Most of the homes were empty. Little dogs wandered about and barked at me. I found a small house with a well tended garden. An elderly matron was happy to offer me water and welcome me to her camp. She handed me a bag of tasty oranges.

I found an abandoned sheltered porch and cooked for the sabbath. I couldn’t charge my gear since the camp had no electricity.

I had a view of island and the beach the camp. The little dogs decided they liked me. I had water and shelter. I was in a good place for the Sabbath, or so I thought.

Nautical miles paddled: 20
Current location: 38.368545,21.100248

I had two and half loaves of bread for the Sabbath and my Sunday paddle. The little dogs got into my duffel bag and ate the half loaf. I put the other loaf on top of a high beam. But when I returned to my spot from exploring the village, they had somehow gotten that too.

They also found an opportunity to eat all of my dry rice and peanuts. My lentils had clearly been tasted and not liked. My last loaf of bread was safe in my kayak hatch, and would hopefully be enough for a full day’s paddle. I ate my lentils for dinner Saturday night.

How I Struggle with Being Jewish

3/27/2014

Today was a bad weather day. The forecast showed force seven headwinds and thunderstorms on my route.

I found some bricks, and together with my mattress, set up a kayak stand. I filled the front compartment with water in my 34th attempt since Leuca to find the mischievous leak.

The idea was to see where the water dripped out of my Nelo Inuk and patch the spot.

3 … 2 … 1 …

It started to rain. Water covered the boat.

It had not rained earlier. It has not rained since.

Maybe I found the culprit and maybe I didn’t. But I sanded down an old patch and applied a new layer of epoxy, generously provided by a wonderful German couple from the only sailboat in the port.

My religious readers may note that this is not the first time rain has interrupted the fragile repair process. Which brings me to the subject of religion.

I am a practicing Jew, and as such I believe כִּי אֵל גָּדוֹל יְהוָה; וּמֶלֶךְ גָּדוֹל, עַל-כָּל-אֱלֹהִים. [Because God is a big god. He is bigger than all the other gods.]*

I think there’s a little god out to get me.

* psalm 95 – It sounds more poetic in Hebrew, or perhaps when subjected to a better translation than my own.

Day 115

3/26/2014

Last night I slept under a restaurant’s awning. The tent provided a canvas roof and no walls just a few feet from the water. It was supposed to protect me from the rain. In the night it poured. The concrete slab my mattress was on turned into a puddle. My sleeping bag was wet, but luckily I was protected by my computer which soaked up most of the water like a sponge.

In the morning I was cold and wet. The sky was dropping buckets. A woman took pity on me and told me to come into her bar to warm up, but everyone was smoking and I couldn’t breathe.

The man who I sawed for yesterday gave me an orange and helped me set up a clothesline in the tent to hang my stuff up to dry.

At around 12:00 the sun came out and a strong west wind blew whitecaps across the water. It was 15 miles to the Astakos, and with the tail wind I could make it before dark.

Only it wasn’t really a tail wind. It was a north wind, but protected as the village is by the island Kalamos, it was behaving like a tail wind in my immediate vicinity.

As soon as I was around the corner of the island I learned the wind’s true nature. I struggled into the headwind for about half an hour. My body still ached from the day before. I began to worry that I would not make it before dark.

I turned east and headed for the small village on Kalamos. The man in the internet bar told me there was no way I’d find a free shower this time of year. I think it has to do with me being here right before the tourist season. If it was winter then people would think of me as a man on an expedition and I’d be welcomed into homes as I have been many times. If it was summer they would think of me as a tourist. Right now, I’m an early tourist. No accommodations are available yet.

Nautical miles paddled: 5
Current location: 38.623187,20.931194

Day 114

3/25/2014

This morning I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag. So I didn’t.

I was on the water by 9:30. While I packed I chatted with some sailors who were about to embark with their 40 foot boat to England. They do about a hundred miles a day.

I headed due south. A field of crashing waves spread out ahead, maybe half a square mile. I could go wide around them, or cross through. I went through. I got hit twice and supported myself on the bursting foam until the wave underneath me lost its fury, then pushed on.

Past the surf zone two meter swells floated me up and down. Their low frequency made them intimidating but not challenging.

I could just make out the fort at the northern end of the Levkas canal. As I drew close I saw a green light. The rule is “red right return.” The red light is on the right side when you return to port. At least, that’s the rule in America, in Europe the rule is “the opposite of red right return.”

The light was green, which meant I had passed the entrance to the canal. Huh.

I looked back the way I had come and didn’t see any canals. A sailboat and a fishing boat were headed in my direction. I watched and waited. They passed me and disappeared around a subtle curve in the beach. I followed them into the canal.

A small harbor is built up against the fort. I paddled around the fort, a sunken 50 foot steam ship and under a drawbridge. On my right was a road and on my left, a low grassy sea wall that separated the canal from other water that may have been a swamp.

I paddled past a large port and the city of Levkas, which was celebrating Greek Independance Day loudly.

I continued down the canal. The island of Levkas and its towering mountains were to my right. The swamp and mainland Greece to my left. I saw a couple of herons fly off. I passed a broken old stone tower that jutted from the water and a small fort on a low rise adjacent to the water. I had an excellent current. At the end of the canal is a small bay and village. The bay is overlooked by a larger fort and populated by a couple of rusty sunken ships.

The inner sea beyond reminded me of British Columbia’s fjords. The water was flat and mountain-islands surrounded me.

I paddled off my chart. I looked at a map in the morning and had a good idea of where I wanted to go, but I asked a man working a fish farm just to be sure. He thought it was cool that I was going to Miticas and confirmed for me that it was at the end of big range. The set of mountains after that was an island.

“How far is it?” I asked.

“About an hour by car.” He told me.

The sea route was definitely shorter. I wondered how fast Greek people drive or how direct the roads are.

I began to cross the mouth of a bay. The current from the canal translated into a tail wind. I turned around. Ominous dark clouds with patches of doom were coming over the mountains. If I turned into the bay I could call it a day at Palairos, but that was in the wrong direction. I also didn’t want to waste the wonderful tail wind I was enjoying, so what if I got rained on.

Behind me Levkas was being enveloped by the storm. The wind jostled me along. The clouds got closer and began to pull ahead of me. Small whitecaps appeared everywhere and by sprinting from the troughs between waves I was able to catch and cruise them.

The clouds enveloped the peaks ahead and by the time I finished the crossing, the sun shone. The mountains got rained on, but not me.

A swarm of birds made shapes in the sky and chirped madly over the island across from Miticas. I pulled up to the village.

A few small docks extended from buildings on the water. I asked an old man if this was the port, or if there was a real port around the corner. I used hand gestures as much as possible, because I didn’t know if he understood me.

He made it clear this was the port. I pulled up on a small beach next to a bar and unpacked my things.

The old man indicated he wanted my help by handing me a saw and pointing to a clump of wood under the tail end of his beached boat. I got on my hands and knees in the water and did his sawing for him. He had no idea where I might find a free shower.

I asked in the bar, “Do you have wifi?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Wi-fi.”

“Are you speaking English?” The man asked me.

“Yes, WI-FI.” I tried again.

He didn’t understand. I looked around helplessly and saw a sign that said in English “Free wi-fi!” I pointed to the sign.

“Oh, wi fi, why didn’t you say so?”

After working on my blog for an hour I was asked to leave.

I found the port. They didn’t have a shower.

Nautical miles paddled: 23.5
Current location: 38.667845,20.943545

Day 113

3/24/2014

Yesterday I found internet access in the center of town. I sat in front of a large house with a sign “We have rooms” and chatted with the owner, her mother, and her mother in law about my adventure.

“So where will you sleep tonight?” they eventually got around to asking.

“I don’t know, probably down by the beach. Sometimes people invite me over. I get all sorts of invitations. I’ve stayed on boats, in people’s houses, you know, all sorts of places.”

My potential hostess understood what I was hinting at, and shut up like a safe.

A five minute walk from my kayak I found a small drink shack near the beach that had been closed since last summer. The fisherman at the dock told me my boat would not be safe in the port overnight, so as the sun set I paddled my boat to the shelter and lugged everything up the hill to the safe spot.

It’s a hassle to load my boat up and get dressed again after I’ve finished my paddling for the day. When possible, I try to avoid it.

I was expecting force four headwinds this morning, and force five in the afternoon. The next port was five miles away. I could make it before the afternoon, and maybe I would find a hot shower there.

The waves, widely spaced, rolled in at a height of two meters. They’d pop me up and drop me down, and I continued on my way.

Preveza lies at the edge of the short channel that connects the outer Ionian sea to the inner Ambracian Gulf. Old derelict forts sleep on either side of the channel. Preza is on the north side, and an enormous marina and shipyard stretches in a veritable forest of masts on the south.

With the rest of the day maybe I could shower and fix the persistent leak to my front compartment. But would I be able to resupply from a supermarket on the south side of the channel?

I asked a fisherman in the middle of the channel. If not, I would first stop and go shopping in the city leaving my boat ready for launch, and then look for my shower in the port.

The fisherman smiled and nodded enthusiastically to my question as if to say “Yes, there is a supermarket by the port.” Or it was possible he told me “I don’t speak a word of English, but I hope one day to learn.”

I pulled over and unpacked my gear.

Ahhh, a warm shower. That felt good. I even washed my clothes.

But there was no supermarket. So I packed everything up and crossed the channel. The wind had grown considerably and even the short protected crossing was choppy, just enough to salt and negate the shower.

Back in the port I filled my boat up with water to see where it was leaking. Pouring rain. I guessed where the leak might be, and then hauled my boat to a sheltered spot.

The zipper on my rain shell doesn’t work anymore. I thought it was okay since it’s almost summer and there’s a lot less rain in the summer.

I brought some toilet paper from the bathroom to dry off the part of my boat I guessed needed the patch, but by the time I got it there it was wet.

I did the best I could to dry it and applied the epoxy. I think the epoxy has gone bad.

I was very cold and wet.

There’s a closed bathroom here in the port. I found a clean stall and set up camp. In the small space, I’m beginning to warm up.