The sound of the water rushing against the bow or the splash of the paddle brings some needed change from the ordinary work life. There is a rest in the motion of paddling, the repetition of stroke, the white noise of moving water. It's an inner voice saying "you belong here, there is a place on earth for you." Sounds like escapism, like running away, yet it's calling and drawing me to water. I still like the shore though and stay close in unfamiliar waters.
A recent trip to paddle on Georgian Bay ON taught me some lessons about myself. I was in unfamiliar water with larger than normal waves for my experience.
I paddled 90 degrees to the wind with the waves approaching from my right side. I crossed a large channel of chop to an island and entered the calm of the lee side. Smooth water and a small harbor from the wind and waves. I got out the boat took a swim and dried off on the hot rocks. Later I walked around the island and watched other kayakers approach. One solo going to the main land and two others approaching the island I was on. I watched as they bobbed up and down between the waves.
I thought I would wait until the wind died down to go further. The two kayakers landed and decided to stay for the night. Around 6:00 pm I thought the wind had died down enough to go further so I loaded up and headed out. The back side of the island was still and quite yet when I rounded the edge of the island I realized that the wind had barely dropped down and the waves roughly three feet. Again from my right the waves rolled from far away only this time the rocky shore was on the left where the waves were crashing. I would set my sights on an island and paddle towards it keeping an eye on the on coming wave. It was 8:00pm and getting too late to risk being rolled. I didn't want to spend a long wet night. Even though it was July the water temp was cool enough to cause problems in the evening. Besides I was solo. It was during this time that this inner voice spoke up and said" You're alright, you'll make it. I paddled to another island and couldn't land due to steep shoreline and trees, I headed down wind to some small outcroppings and found a place to set up for the night.
The wind was strong and I braced the tent with extra rope for the night. I decided to call home to find out about the weather, " 20 knot winds and 1 meter waves dying down early tomorrow" So I was in a wonderful place, dry and without mishap on the water. The following day I returned to the main land and bumped into the solo paddler who had passed by the day before and happened to be an advanced kayak instructor. He said that most people can go further than they think and do more than they believe they can.
The trip left me with some great lessons for life, you're gonna be alright and you can do more than you think. So why not reach further and risk more. Push the limits.