Change of Address

My blog has a new address, so please go to to read my latest post and follow my upcoming adventures.  No future posts will be made at this address, though it’s still a good place to go back and look at old posts.

I did my first multi-day trip in a while.  I may write a little more about it later.  We paddled a two day section of the Long Island Sound. I took these pictures.

My friend Kayak Cowgirl took these pictures.

Day 159


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




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


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


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


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


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