GASP! Gulf Area Sea Paddlers

A Paddler's World

Copyright by Dave Voiles

This week has been pretty routine, steady business and moderate freight, with the many other things that make weeks just as normal as the one before it. Weather today was just right for a nice paddle, soft winds out of the south, the tide just right for the time of day, and some free time on top of it all. I loaded up my Scimitar onto my rack, threw my paddle, skirt, and preserver into the bed of the truck, and drove the short distance to the bay. Once there, I got everything down to the water, gazed out over the water, gently sat down, put my feet into the boat and slid softly into the seat.

I pushed off and adjusted my skirt. The winds were starting to gust out of the east now, the direction I would be heading. The skies were filling with white puffs that would bear watching. As I went under the first pier I was jumped upon by wild creatures swinging from silk ropes. I had no room for mistakes. They were out for blood. I swung my paddle and killed several but it was only when I cleared the pilings that I smashed them with the force of a ninja and left them to scatter in the wind. I must hurry before they catch up with me. The waves were now coming over the bow and spray was in my face. My sunglasses needed rainx on them, but no time to stop now.

I paddled with force to hurry to reach a section of shore that ran north. Here I should have been in calmer water but the wind (knowing all) suddenly blew out of the north and continued to hamper my speed. Finally reaching the Point, I turned eastward again and yes, the wind blew out of the east. I reached Bridge Creek and turned south into, yes, the wind. By now I had gone through half my gatoraid. I stroked hard into the wind and at two hours into the trip, I had made it to the calm of Bridge Creek.

Being quiet and careful I paddled stealthily into the inner bayou hoping not to come upon any dreaded pirates. CAREFUL, there was one now, pretending to be a fisherman. I glided by him and went around the bend. Hugging the bank and scanning the water when a sudden whirl and splash exploded just off my starboard bow. The back had to be four feet long and covered with scales. And I thought Nessie wasn't real! Ten minutes later I was at the end. Only swamp left. I turned around and knew I'd have to go by the pirate again. As I approached, he started his motor and headed up the creek trying to get away. I paddled hard and soon was riding his wake, surfing just like the video Performance Sea Kayaking. I could do it. The skies were looking bad now, purple mounds building and birds taking cover. I surfed his wake and then just left him in my wake. I shot past him using the same stroke that Greg Barton uses and was soon out into the bay again headed home, paddling into the, you guessed it, wind.

The waves were coming from behind me now and the big 1 footers were sending my stern all over the place. My gatoraid was gone by now and I was paddling on sheer determination. The sun was searing my arms (forgot my sunscreen) and drying my throat out as if I were in the desert! I had to make it back, if not for me then for my kids. It had been about 3 1/2 hours and I was numb from the waist down. No feeling left in my cheeks (lower torso) and my legs were wanting to stand. Finally, the bank where I'd put in. About all I could do was drift up with the waves. I steadied myself with the paddle and popped my skirt. Oh, and ever so slowly did I get my feet up and out, over the side, onto the sand, steady now... up I pushed myself, surviving another outing.

The soft winds were nice and cool as I loaded up my gear and drove the short distance home, where raking the yard and cleaning the pump and filter to the pond and 20 other chores awaited me. Yes I thought, Calvin and Hobbs had nothing on me!

Dave Voiles
Pensacola, Fl.

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