by George Weetman
There’s no way to avoid a certain sluggish feel to your stroke when you’re paddling a hollow wooden board stuffed with seven days’ worth of wilderness camping gear. Tent, sleeping bag, pumpernickel bread, hard cheese, pepper salami, espresso, VHF radio, GPS, fleece, fishing rod, knife, iPod, solar charger – the full kit neatly tucked away in dry bags above and below deck.
Although the extra payload makes the board impossible to carry under your arm, the change once paddling is more subtle than you might expect – like a locomotive trying to catch speed. With so much extra stick below water the glides are shorter, and the extra drag slowly wears away on the brain.
Never mind. Self-reliance is a beautiful thing when your perspective of the salty sea and all its curious creatures occurs only inches above waterline; and the 5 a.m. weather check suggested we were going to have another calm morning of perfect glass. As I followed my sea-kayak partner Dave under muted skies and gentle seas, I thought about our ocean voyage so far: the daily sightings of golden eagles, pods of seals sixtydeep, drifting under the sun on a one-knot tidal pull in crystal clear waters above white sand, sea grass and Dungeness crab.