Category Archives: Richmond Island
I awaken having not rested but that’s okay. The crazy night is part of my vacation with the key word being vacation. Things that rob me of sleep at home add to the pile of stress as the next day progresses with its own challenges and concerns. The tension pile away from everyday life is much different as there is little to build on and the things that do find their way to it, have a short life span. This is nice in that the disruptions that do occur are easy to let go of. One of the many benefits a vacation provides.
The wind is still blowing but it’s only 8 knots which is a bit over 9 mph. Camp is efficiently taken down. Everything is stuffed into their sacks except the tent as I have yet to change. Last night was warm so my I wore a short sleeve shirt and shorts, which should not be worn on the cold Atlantic. The water temperature (temp) is fifty eight degrees. This temp may sound chilly, but it’s not. It is downright cold and dangerous! [Water robs the body of heat thirty times faster than air and treading water will reduce survival by fifty percent. I don’t remember what site I found these facts from but I highly recommend watching this video and Check out the site for tons of cold water info and instruction ] I change into paddle clothing from inside the tent, take it down, roll and stuff it in a sack too. The tide is two hours from top so Abbie B is not far from the water. I decide to load and drag her to the sea from where she is.
My biggest challenge is keeping the sand out of Abbie B’s holds. Very little gets in but Abbie B’s hatches are a different story. The sand is dry but is behaving as though it is wet by sticking to and within the lip to the fore and aft holds and inside the threads to the day hold. I swipe it with my fingers with little results. Ding! ding! ding! Use the sponge. It’ll squish to form and do the job and it does. But I fail at getting the majority of sand out of the clips to the straps that run over top of the holds. I rec-clip the sponge to the deck line and try blowing the sand out of the clips and then apply significant force. A gritty snap, snap secures each one but the salt and sand stiffened straps are difficult to tighten. Getting ready to go is taking forever. I definitely have to come up with a better system! But, she is ready to go and I drag her to the edge of the water.
Although, it seems late because of how long it took to get ready to go. The time is six am. The water outside of my protective cove looks rough. I know that it is even more so than it looks. I studied a lot throughout my preparations for this trip and The book, Sea Kayaker Deep Trouble, by Matt Broze and George Gonseth shares several stories of disaster due to the misjudgment of water conditions. I decide to add my 7 mm dive hood to my paddle wear. I am decked out in long underwear top and bottom, a long sleeve chafe shirt with 2 mm neoprene, 5 mm farmer john suit, 7 mm boots, 3 mm gloves, a dry top and a Snapdragon spray skirt. I bought a full dry suit that was on sale but need to lose a few more inches to fit more comfortably inside it.
I launch Abbie B between my legs as before, quickly sit on the back of her cockpit combing, slide in and secure spray skirt. I have a lightweight graphite feather bladed paddle and put it to use by pulling Abbie B and me over the surf. We head out through the safest exit from the protection of the island to cover the mile between Richmond Island and Crescent Beach. Oh, boy, the tide is bringing in large swells with some that break from the east and the wind is still out of the south pushing piles of water behind me. I’m glad that I know the area well as there are lots of rocks and some ledges dotted throughout the area.
I work at threading my way away from them but still make a landing either at Crescent or in Kettle Cove which is next to it. This is no easy task for avoiding capsizing in which practicing rolls specifically with Abbie B was my reason for going to Richmond. There’s weather coming and I need to get back to the mainland!
I’m very busy keeping a vigilant eye in two directions as the incoming tide is from the east bringing breaking waves with it. A mere five feet are between them while the south wind pushes piles of water from behind. Sweep, pry, a few small sculling and hard forward strokes are my best weapons. I’m finding the most difficult part of this crossing to be keeping myself off seal rocks. The sea is becoming “confused” out here in the middle and it’s all I can do just to keep myself from being hit broadside, especially from the large incoming swells. Abbie B is responding well but we are slowly being pushed toward seal rocks and are encountering the outskirts of rebounding waves.
I turn into the tide often, stroking hard to edge us up over and turn a bit this and that way according to the breaks and the sneaky piles from behind. I guess I’m getting some real practice with Abbie B, except for rolls and I hope not to have to do so. We’d make it fine. I just don’t have the confidence I’d like because of only having Abbie B a week and a half before vacation. We didn’t have much time together and only one day of practicing getting back in after a wet exit.
Two hours fly by feeling more like thirty minutes and we are almost there. I want to get into Kettle Cove where there would be no surf to land in but the rocks which form the cove are preventing me from doing so. I certainly am not going out again to try and make it. I see a quiet space in a small area right where Crescent and the west side of Kettle Cove meet and head for it.
I welcome the landing but have a little bit of a time getting out. I worked so hard in one position that my legs , especially with a problematic knee, are refusing fluid movement. My skirt is off and I move my legs a bit inside the cockpit while doing a partial “chair” lift a couple of times. I feel secure now and push myself into a sitting position on the back of the cockpit, splay my legs stand up and guide Abbie B back between them. I walk her through the light surf over to the boat ramp area and drag her fully loaded part way there.
Once again, I receive some strange looks as I walk with all my paddling gear on except for my gloves and dive hood. The van is waiting for me in the lot by Kettle Cove from where I drive her down, load it and secure Abbie B on the top.
The wind’s a blowin’ and the tent is on the ground. I shove my ultra-light tarp under the tent and finish with an extension jutting out in front of the door. Unzip said door, plop inside (except for legs), wipe, dump, and shake sand onto the tarp. Keep that infernal stuff out of my stuff!
Captive gear is sprung from their sacks and in minutes everything is as it should be. But it wasn’t. Will the tent hold or be ripped to shreds? No, but seriously damage is possible. My best solution is to turn the tent parallel to the tempest, allowing it to pass into one door and out the other. The saying, “No rest for the weary” is magnanimously applicable right now. I haul myself outside to do chores, AGAIN!
I crawl back inside as before and try to rest. This body wants sleep, sleep, sleep. Oh, no. This is not working either! Zip! Zip! Zip! yet again. I close the screens and open the doors, peeling them back as far as possible and tie them to the tent’s poles. And once more, this body plops down while faithfully maintaining the keep out the sand ritual.
My mind becomes quiet. But not for long, as a sarcastic chuckling surges up from within. This is like jumping into a ditch while a tornado passes over, except the extreme airflow relentlessly slams into me. I now know what it feels like to be a mountain in the midst of a storm. The only escape is to bury myself below the surface but I don’t like the sand. (I learn so much on these outings!) An explosion of laughter bursts on the scene and keeps on until sleep overtakes it.
The infernal beast wakes me on three occasions throughout its trek from southwest to south southwest and finally only from the South. At least it’s warm and not a bone chilling cold. I grudgingly get up each time to drag the loaded tent so it remains parallel to the wind. Thankfully, I easily fall back to sleep after each rousting.
The profile of my tent has little surface. So, I figured that presenting it this way into the wind would work. Seeing the sides being pressed together was something else. As they say, “There’s a first time for everything.”
I’m on the ground now and plant the tent fabric underneath my knees while unfolding the poles. Okay, got that done. I crawl to the bottom right corner and push the poles through their prospective sleeves. Here we go. Quickly now! I burst upright grasping a pole and shoving one end and then the other in their grummet and do the same for the other. The tent is up and the wind hits so hard that it is upended in my hands. I walk beneath the odd-shaped kite, climb up the trail to the field and fall to the ground. I finally get control of the tent in the space beneath the tall grasses. I go back to the beach to grab my sleeping bag, pad, compression sack stuffed with clothing and make my way back to the tent. Zip, Zip, one door opens. Thud, Thunk, in goes the gear. Grab and Zip, Zip, trudge back to the beach wading through the soft sand while pulling the weighted tent behind me.
Man, this is work! Land on the sand. Drag Abbie B up ten feet of wet sand and over another twenty of dry to settle her in for the night. Open hatches to unload gear and taking care to keep sand from getting in. Wrestle with tent, Ugh! But, it’s finally up. Think positive. Actually, I’m not thinking at all. The sound of a small engine invades my crazy space. Oh, no. There goes my privacy! A small skiff lands and four people climb out with one tossing wood up on the beach. Okay, be polite. I walk over and greet them. We have a pleasant conversation. Thankfully, they are kind enough to move around the corner to build a fire, drink beer and whatever else youngsters do there at night.
The tent is still where I left it but is caving in on the side of the wind. I’ve pitched her in some pretty wild places but this spot takes the cake. The later it gets the stronger the wind. I’d hate to be out at sea, even in a big boat. The forces to reckon with under a gale is not for the weak of heart. For that matter, the strong do not welcome such circumstances either. It’s one of the great wonders of the world to me. How a calm surface can be whipped up into heaps within moments.
Walls of water that block out the sky, wash cargo off great ships and run others aground or into rocks. The sound of many cannons erupt on impact, boom! boom! boom! A mighty creaking and crunching follow as the forsaken breaks apart. Twisted chunks and heavy cargo head for the bottom like bodies ensconced in cement. The rest are torn asunder, scattered and taking a beating.
God help the souls of those holding on as thousands of pounds of water rain down upon them, as they are sucked up and over thirty to fifty foot swells and sent tumbling over and over down the backside. They choke on water, spray and foam. They pray for death and let go while others hold on and still drown. And after the tempest, rescuers find frozen bodies poking and turning them hoping for signs of life. The dead are still gathered. Leave no one to the cold barren sea. Bring them home to the widows and orphans that they may mourn and sing the hymn, Eternal Father, Strong to Save.
Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid’st the mighty Ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea.
O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
and calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!
Most Holy spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!
O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee,
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea. ~ words by Rev. William Whiting and music by Rev. John B. Dykes
And those found alive cannot help themselves. They are too cold and over-come with exhaustion. Some believe they are dreaming. They awake in hospital beds, calling for help or sobbing at the sight of a mate torn from hands by the angry sea. Loved ones keep watch by day and night until the peaceful calm returns once more. The go home. They go back to work. They head out to sea once more. But they will not forgot, nor will those who watched from afar and those who worked Search and Rescue.
See next post for gallery of a storm driven tide at Crescent Beach.
I’ve been behind on everything since February and today is following the pattern. I want to leave around eleven this morning. I know, wishful thinking with so much to accomplish before freedom has a chance to bloom. My plan is to finish up anything Marie needs help with which shouldn’t take long. Farm work and the lawn will voraciously eat up time. Now, It’s noon and I have yet to do one more thing, download and print navigation and tide charts. I hoped to have had them done a couple of weeks ago with tentative plans, routes and mark-ups completed. Hope is the key word and I knew then as I know now that this wasn’t a realistic expectation.
So, here I am downloading the maps and charts, loading them one at a time in Photoshop to crop and resize for easy use. This is taking way to long! I’m keep telling myself that vacation has begun. What I am doing is a part of it. This strategic thinking is meant to quiet the pressure of the “Let’s get out of here!” screaming from a place deep inside of me. I so want to be gone; to leave behind everything that cannot be done until I return. It’s difficult but deep breathing and focus help as I listen to the printer’s machinations. The last page falls to the floor. I scoop it up and place it on the large pile, proceed to roll the stack, shove it inside a thick plastic bread bag and then into a winter trekking thermos holder.
The van is already loaded in a haphazard manner. Large items are strewn around a plastic bin filled with numerous items waiting to be organized. I chose not to do so before leaving. I just want to escape this place, to run from all my concerns and forget them for a while. It feels great to be finally sitting in the driver’s seat and making my way out the driveway. Good bye world and hello pleasant living.
The drive to Cape Elizabeth is tedious and boring. I feel stressed and just want to arrive and get out on the water. I occupy myself with singing and should say to my friend Sally, thanks for loaning me your van. She and her husband were so gracious as to let me have it a couple of days before leaving. It made the last few days of getting things done less stressful. We will be meeting on Sunday at Portland’s East End where I will put in from the beach. But, first a day on Richmond Island for some practice and then stay at Fred’s to organize the mess shoved in the back of the van. Some items are for the trip and others to have when I return.
There’s the ice cream place. Yea, I’m finally here! I turn into Fred’s driveway for a short hello and to show him Abbie B. We chat for a bit and he informs me that the house is available for me to stay Saturday night there. The original plan was for me to spend Friday and Saturday night on Richmond Island but they were closing down for the season so one night was all I could have. I’m grateful that the Sprague’s allowed me to have the one night. It pays to be friends with good friends with them.
I drive down to Kettle Cove where there is a kind of ramp for easing a vehicle down to Crescent Beach. It’s a good place to unload and launch. I hop out of the van and begin untying Abbie B from the van’s rack. A young couple stop by on their way off the beach. They admire and ask about Abbie B. I’m happy to answer their questions and feel a great pride in her. More time passes, forty-five minutes of it, before I’m free to continue readying Abbie B.
Abbie B is unloaded and carefully placed on the sandy beach. A woman scares me silly as I turn around with an armload of gear. Gear that I’m hastily shoving into Abbie B’s holds. She also asks many questions and I answer each one while working at forming a mood that exudes patience and understanding. A half an hour passes. The sun is racing to the horizon. I must stop talking and get going. I don’t want to paddle in the dark. I finally tell her I have to leave. She wishes me good luck and relief washes over me.
The last of the gear is given a haphazard shove into Abbie B’s aft hold. The van is parked up in the lot and I change into my paddling gear. I have on long underwear,the a chafe shirt, neoprene boots and gloves, a farmer Jane wet suit and dry top. Peculiar glances from curios people cast there gaze upon me. I could care less. I just wanna get out of here!
Keys to the van are the last item put in the day hold. I zip my life jacket, grab my paddle and drag Abbie B out into the water. I straddler her bow as I push her forward and then drop myself into her cockpit. Sprayskirt is attached and off I go. I’m officially escaping life and it feels good.
The wind significantly picks up as I head farther out from shore. The swells aren’t bad and only a few are breaking. The sun is beginning to set. I find it easy to maneuver through the piles of water and easily make my way around to the beach campsite on Richmond Island. I am met with a stronger wind and mild surf crashes on the beach making for a tricky landing. A few boats are anchored close to the breakwater where the sea is near calm. So, I take my time in choosing where and when to hit the beach. I don’t want to embarrass myself the first time out and I didn’t.
My legs feel like rubber. Body, mind and soul are drained of energy. I’m finding it difficult to haul Abbie B above the tide line. I’m just plain exhausted from the stress of the past few weeks and the life sapping activities of the day. I finally get her up and tied to a rock. The sun is now gone but the moon is at half and it is easy to see. I feel no compunction to be neat and orderly. I just don’t care. I toss only what I need in a heap on a flat area of the beach. I hate camping in the sand! It gets into everything but I don’t blame the Sprague’s for limiting me to this particular area of the island.
The wind gathers strength as the minutes tick by. Good grief, I’m wrestling with the tent, fighting to keep it from being ripped out of my hands. The struggle reminds me of the time I nearly took to the air via a tent rainfly. This story took place during my first hike of the Appalachian Trail with a friend back in 1993.
[We were a day’s walk from Smokey Mountain National Park and had camped next to some trees on the side of a narrow ridge. There wasn’t much of a choice due to darkness and the start of a heavy rain. It poured heavily all night long and was still drizzling as we packed up camp in the morning. We got under way fairly quickly and found the shelter we were heading for within ten minutes. I guess we should have kept going a bit. We waited until the sun came out reading the log book to pass time. Some of the entries were quite humorous. Such as, The Honey Mooner’s (trail name)had lost their spoons and were using sticks to eat with. We finally met them three weeks later and the sticks were still in use.
We moved on within the hour and came to a grassy bald high above the valley below. The day was warming up and we were in full sunlight. I decided that this would be a great place to dry out our gear. So we spread it out, turning items often until they dried. The tent was an easy matter. Set it up. My friend took care of that and I decided to dry the rainfly by holding it at an edge and into to the wind. It wasn’t a strong wind but we were on a heavily sloped bald which made for a great updraft zone. The fly flapped in the air making a snapping sound and I changed its angles by moving my hands around the edges. It did dry quickly but I had a funny idea to try just for the heck of it. I grabbed the fly by three corners and put myself below it. The rising air current filled it and lifted me up so that my feet were leaving the ground. I quickly let one hand go and hit the ground with a thud. I pictured myself soaring with the turkey buzzards and then ending up in some trees way down in the valley. I imagined finding a road and hitching a ride where I’d meet my friend at the shelter right before the edge of The Smokey’s. Now, that would be a tale!]
— This is all I have time for today. See ya tomorrow.