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Today’s Challenge

I’m away right now so not readily availabe to the internet.  However, I do have a moment now and the best thing I have is the battle for sanity, Randolph NH.

It has snowed three mornings in a row. Yep, warm days and snow almost all gone. Bam! honey I’m back.  No, no, no, curtains close and blanket over my face. I’m not getting up. I’m not getting up.  Curtain open, hmm.  Still there and I have to get up.  How reality tempts us to change its very nature.

Yesterday Morning

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p.s.  I’m in Cape Elizabeth, Maine where the grass IS greener.

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Fearful

I can feel that the bout with dehydration is over.  Strength and clear thinking seems to be restored this morning.  However, my nice feelings spun into fear within minutes of seeing my neighbors heading out on the water to make the trip back to Cow Island, where Rippleffect is located.  For those of you just joining me, I’ve been enjoying the company of ten kayaks worth of kids and three kayaks of adults.  Two of the adults are parents, one with a young child paddling a tandem kayak.  Last but now worrisome, Scott and Emily.

My heart is pounding as I watch the scene unfold before me.  Thirteen kayaks heading out on seas they have no business being out on.  VHF radio weather report as of ten thirty am broadcasted the following, “Rain in the morning into the mid-afternoon with possible thunder showers.  Small craft advisory from Port Clyde to Cape Elizabeth.  Winds 17 knots with gusts to 21 knots, Seas 5-7 feet every 7 seconds.”  It is eleven twenty.  What in the world are they doing?

[17 to 21 knots is = to 19 to 24 mph.  A knot is speed according to the nautical mile, 6,076 feet.]

I move to the shore to keep watch, VHF radio in hand ready to call out a Mayday, “In need of Immediate Assistance” to the Coast Guard.   So far they were in relatively “calm” water, being that they were still in what I would call a Cliff Island Buffer Zone.  I watch the group spread out as they struggle against the wind and the tide of which the top of High Tide is an hour away.  The sky is awash in a pale gray while a low stratus front approaches from the west.  The sea is a dirty darkish tan topped with thin strands of white, making it difficult for me to spot several of the kayaks, especially the two stragglers whose crafts are a dark blue.

The entire group becomes one long serpentine line.  I lose sight of each one in the low troughs between the short-lived swells but not at once.  I count them from front to back and then the last third two or three times over before going back to the front of the group.  The only reason I haven’t called the Coast Guard yet is that there are two sizable lobster boats nearby.  One is in the harbor with men on board and the other is out where the group is going, beyond all buffer zones.  It is truly at sea and all but the top of its cabin disappears between the swells and constantly breaking waves out there.  However, I will make the call if they approach Green Can 24 which is the point of no return from Cliff Island’s Buffer zone.  They were heading right for it. Thankfully, the group turned around with time to spare.

I still remain on watch, counting kayaks over and over until they are in truly safe waters.  My heart still pounds as I make a dash for their camp and the landing zone within Cocktail Cove.  One by one each kayak rolls in with its paddler on board.  None of them have spray skirts.  The kids are in shorts and t-shirts, soaking wet and laughing, while hauling their crafts up on the island. They had a blast!  The leaders file in last.  Scott is in full dry gear and wearing a skirt.  He also has a VHF radio in his life jacket pocket.  What?

I have no intention of embarrassing Scott so I wait until the kids are out of earshot.  The question of why he took the group out is posed quietly and with respect.  His answer, “to see what it was like.”  I gently point my VHF radio at the one tucked in his vest saying, “That’s what this is for.”  I leave things with that and walk back to my camp.  Now that I’m relaxed, I need to pee!

That bit of relief done, I crawl inside my tent, grab my journal and begin writing out a list.  The finished product reads the weather and conditions of the sea as reported by the VHF prior to the group’s departure.  Followed by visual aids that also could have made for an easy understanding of “seeing what it is like” without leaving the island.

Buoys lying flat on the water – direction and strength of tidal current.
Wall of stratus clouds heavy with moisture approaching from west and already over the water.
The Lobster boat bobbing up and down like a small toy, falling nearly out of sight in the troughs between swells far larger than what is between Jewell and Cliff Islands.  (It’s always at least five times worse than views from within protected islands.)
Last is the weather report via VHF, written in detail.

The kids noisily walk by still happy and laughing with Emily in tow.  This my cue.  I walk over to their camp where I find the couple drinking coffee and Scott standing on his high shoreline ground looking out over the water.  Scott, do you mind if I offer some advice?  YES, please do.  He says this in an eager tone, ready and willing to learn from his mistakes.  I had torn the list from my journal and handed it to him.  We went over it slowly item by item.  I ask Scott if he realizes the danger he put himself and the kids in. A sober yes is his answer.  And then, he fires away with more questions and I become more and more impressed with this young man.  His ego is not bruised.  He is not embarrassed.  He understands and wants to learn all he can.  Remarkable.  Ten minutes later the stratus clouds arrive unloading a drenching downpour.  My cue to run ‘home’.

The green dots on Jewel Island represent our camps.  Mine is inland by the wharf and their’s is near the cove.  The red line represents route outbound.  The blue line is route back.  The green circle near the turning point of the routes is around Green Can 24.  The two Black “X” are the location of the Lobster Boats.

Group Route

“It takes just one wave to capsize a boat, and one more to take it down.”
― Federico Chini, The Sea Of Forgotten Memories

 

 

The sea cares not for mankind,
nor the “unsinkable” ships we build.

 

 

 

 

The Cleansing

I was glad to relax into a comfortable sleep after dining within my humble home with the ambiance of light rain and the usual boring cuisine. (Grape Nuts Cereal, Powdered Milk, Strawberry Protein Powder, and Peanut Butter).  My alarm went off at 9 pm for the usual keep me sane medications.  At least, I hope they do each time I take them.  They have done the job quite well for a couple of years and that in itself is a great blessing.

I have Bi-Polar disorder and have a mild form of autism called, Aspergers along with a few other autistic features.  The medications are for the Bi-Polar but it isn’t a cure-all.  I do have to adapt and live with it just like anyone else with a disorder or a disease.  Medications help and the rest is learn and adapt or suffer.  The autism, I do the best I can which is pretty good most of the time. The other times may cause those who are not acquainted with the odd behaviors flee the scene (LOL), accept the situation, or look elsewhere as if the space I occupy doesn’t exist.  I find the reactions of others both interesting and entertaining, depending on the who, where, and extent of reaction or lack thereof.  My personal quote to my therapist is, “Cats are weird and people are worse than cats.”  A funny observation from someone who has a BA in Sociology.

The most important aspect of dealing with the medication part is to take them as directed, amount and times.  I don’t get people with mental illness who stop taking their meds. because the “feel better.”  Duh, if taking meds = feeling better than it’s a good idea to continue the use of the formula.  Like I said, “People are worse than cats.”

I brought a digital recorder with me and have a good collection of sounds from this trip.  Play this one while reading the rest of this post.  [Photo attribute found here]

It is nice to be tired enough to be able to fall asleep early enough to set an alarm to for the med. ritual and then sink back into a state of peaceful sleep.  The light rain drops a bit heavier at times which rouses me.  I drink more water as dehydration is still in effect before indulging myself into some absolute pleasure.  I remove the clothing that I’m wearing and exit the tent naked with my sliver of soap and some shampoo to take a shower.  The freshwater saturates my hair as it runs down my body.  I stand still for a lengthy time before applying cleansing agents.  The removing of sweat and crusty sea salt is pure joy after five days without the privilege of freshwater clean up.  My personal supply of fresh water is for drinking.  Every drop is accounted for and calculated according to need in all circumstances.  But rainwater, is a free – for – all grab as much as I want and be selfish about it! Oh yeah, baby, bring it on!

Once I feel clean enough, I kneel down just outside the tent door and grab the bag with all other garments and empty the contents.  It takes several trips but the task of laying my clothing on benches and grass for a thorough drenching as well.  I’ll let them sit as they are through the night and turn them from time to time during the morning drizzle.  For now, it’s back into the tent to dry off and take advantage of more water and the bliss of sleeping through the rest of the night.

See ya in the morning!

Move!

I am asleep and then I’m not.  It is 1230 am, high tide.  The immense weight of the ocean is slamming into the island with such force that the booming sounds awaken me.  I remain motionless in my half slumber until the shudder like island vibrations finish the job and send me outside the tent.  Whoa . . . the ocean has an attitude, vengeance!  Some not so pleasant historic events have taken place on this island.  Perhaps, these eternal waters are paying them a visit.

The first settlers were driven from Richmond Island by greedy owners of land grants.  One being, George Jewell of whom the island is named after.  The Abenaki Tribal people were displaced by early inhabitants.  War ensued for nearly a decade.  The Abenaki people did not appear to use Jewell Island much if at all.  However, they did attack the fortified main house on the island in 1676 during King Philip’s War, causing the island to be abandoned.  Later, two men fought over ownership of the island.  As usual, money was at the center of their dispute.  (Jewell Island had become home to a very lucrative cod fishing industry.)  The military claimed the island against the will of the owners of the time via condemnation for national defense uses.  The few soldiers garrisoned on the island before the government terminated its presence caused considerable damage to the previous owner’s home and to many of their personal items inside the house.

Early history reports use of the island by pirates.  Legends of  Captain Kid and Captain Bellamy seem to be the oldest and posses the most repeated stories of exploits and buried treasure. Ghosts have been reported like that of  “a boatload of pirates, armed to the teeth, rowing into the harbor with their oars creaking.” or “a lone sailor, his throat cut from ear to ear and blood streaming down the front of his shirt.” (History of Jewell Island by Peter W. Benoit.)

I am now standing in the darkness near the area where the Abenaki landed to mount their surprise attack.  The surf continues to pound the island in a manner that makes yesterday’s tide look like a child’s wading pool.  The air is warm and moist with no wind leading me to believe the weather forecast has changed a bit.  The approaching system must be arriving earlier than expected.  A decision to change plans is quickly made.   I will wake myself around four am, pack up camp and tote it over to the other side of the island.  The reason being that I want Abbie B to be free of burden so she can respond quickly and efficiently to my directions while on the big water.

I woke up at three thirty instead and went to work.  Camp is torn down and stuffed loosely in respective bags and carried to a sheltered area just over the ridge from the beach.  I hastily toss the tent together and change into my paddling attire, hike back to Abbie B, load her day hatch with safety gear and place the one remaining water bladder strategically in the fore hold.  [The water bladders work well as ballast to trim the boat.]

I slither inside the cockpit of Abbie B as soon as I can see well enough to head out.  The cove is pretty quiet but once out of safety long swells are rolling in.  They are not breaking but are quite high, well above my head.  My guess is around five to eight feet with a ten second maximum between them.  I am a little nervous as this is a first for Abbie B and me.  How will she handle?  Her answer, beyond my expectations.

Once I know that we are not going to be rolled a billion times and then smashed into the rocks, I begin to enjoy myself.  We are running abeam to the swells.  I paddle her up the wall at a slight angle and then push hard across their spines to gain headway before sliding down into the troughs.   I keep a close eye on where the outer rocks are and the finger like projection of the Island’s northeast point.  A finger made of high rocky cliffs.

I work for half an hour before my turn arrives and is completed.  The swells come from behind, allowing Abbie B and me to do some surfing down their faces.  This little outing is turning out to be much more fun than I thought.  I turn my head to eyeball each swell as it approaches.  I do not want to be surprised by a breaking swell against my back.  That would bury us!  Ten whole minutes of riding the swells is all that it take to reach Jewell Island’s Cocktail Cove.

 

Wind and Weather

I’ve returned from my wind wanderings and found that there a myriad of stories that I could share.  I’m also sure that nearly all of my readers have their own stories as well. Some that are funny and others that a scary.  For me tornadoes fall into the scary category.  However, I’m also attracted to being near them and have been visited by a few.  I grew up in what is called, “Tornado Alley” in the state of Michigan.  The area has spawned many a tornado or other severe weather to support this claim.  In fact, one of the most devastating tornadoes in U.S. history (listing of top 10) is the  1953 F-5 Beecher-Flint Michigan tornado that cut a 27 mile long swath.  It came within 8 miles of the home I grew up in.  My grandmother saved the newspapers that covered the tragedy.  I read and re-read them over and over again.  The stories fascinated me as well as adding growth to  my quest for understanding people.  A tornado leaves in its wake a war-like environment:  pain, suffering, unrecognizable loved ones both dead and alive, heroism and  its opposite.  It takes years to get over such an event.  And for some, there is no getting “over” it. Click for info and photos

Flint-Beecher Tornado

Flint-Beecher Tornado

“1953 Beecher tornado” by NOAA

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sea spawns tornadoes and worse too.  These events have to do with waterspouts and hurricanes.  Waterspouts are divided into two categories, fair weather and tornadic.  Fair weather ones form beneath developing cumulus clouds from the surface of the sea and build upward, where it reaches maturity and peters out.  Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes on water, often developing on land before moving over the water.  These are treated as dangerous and are associated with severe storms, hail, high winds, large seas, and lightning. See for source material and more information.

Fair weather water spout  Photo credit: Niccolò Ubalducci Photographer / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Tornadic Waterspout Photo credit: RelentlesslyOptimistic / Foter / CC BY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricanes form over the equator which is the reason that they are fist labeled as a tropical storm.  These form when warm moist air rises at a rate that leaves a heightened low pressure area at the surface of the ocean.  High pressure above sends air down, which forms more warm moist air that rises .  This scenario repeats itself over and over.  Eventually, the cloud formation spins and develops an eye.  The eye works as a funnel for the high pressure air flowing downward.  The factors that move a hurricane are global winds, heightened high and low pressure systems, beta drift (due to the Coriolis Force), the jet stream, gulf stream, wind shear, and a few more items. Click here for source and more information.

Photo credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center / Foter / CC BY-NC

Now, that I’m loaded with all of this information, I grab the VHF and have a listen.  The forecast creates a need to adjust my schedule.  It says that by early tomorrow afternoon rain and possible thunderstorms will move in.  My plan is to paddle all the way to Crow Island (Harpswell), but I wouldn’t make it by noon.  Bangs Island is much closer and on my list of islands to visit.  I’ll head there but Abbie B and me will have to leave early for a comfortable voyage and to arrive before noon.  Fine with me.

I am now ready for the great outdoors and unzip the tent door and do my little spin maneuver to exit.  I have a knee injury that has healed quite well except for possible meniscus damage, making the knee impossible to close or accept downward pressure.  It’s taken awhile to develop a technique for entering and exiting the tent.  I have it down now.  I don’t even have to think about it.  Roll onto side, make fist with each hand and put weight on them, bend healthy knee and sort of fold the other a bit, spin while moving body out the door and come to stand via pushing against hands and the knee of the good leg.  Stand and straighten injured leg.  I should have been a gymnast!

The wind has steadied and the tide is is three hours past it’s six hours high.  I walk the shore as best as possible exploring rocks and fauna, gazing at the intersection of the ocean and island at as many points as possible.  Boy, I’m really glad that I didn’t try to circumnavigate this island under the conditions of the day I landed and certainly not today either.

I find a duck and sit next to him.  He allows me to pet and speak to him.  However, I can’t understand anything he says and he’s heard a lot.  He’s made of dry wood and wood records sound.  I sit and stare at the wooden figure.  I imagine myself listening to his stories and enjoying a yarn or two.  I bet it would be an all-nighter.

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