Restoring the Sacred

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Closer to God in a Kayak V


Christmas 1994 was special for a number of reasons. First, our youngest son, Steve, who had been married on New Year’s Eve, 1993 came to Atlantic Beach for Christmas with his new wife, Anastasia. The second thing that made that Christmas special occurred on Christmas Eve afternoon. I remember looking out our kitchen window and seeing a pick-up truck pulling into our driveway with a green kayak sticking out of the truck bed. It was a 14 feet, 8 inch Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro Model – a real beauty. Cass had been at Aqua East, our local surf shop, just looking around, and found two Scupper Pros on sale for $500 each. She had no idea what a good deal she had found, but fortunately called Jim Stehr and asked him what he thought. As I recall being told by Cass later, Jim said, quite emphatically, “Grab it!” and she did. That was, as they say, the first day of the rest of my life at sea – almost.

It would be difficult to recount the many adventures experienced in my Scupper Pro, but I’ll try to provide at least the highlights of the 16 years since coming into possession of her. Chronology must give way here as the events to be described would be difficult to place even in the exact year of occurrence, let alone be given a specific date. Suffice to say, they have all occurred since the acquisition of the Scupper Pro, which is still my #1 boat.

Here's a good close-up of her:

Sea Buoy Trips

I could not even guess how many trips I’ve made out to the sea buoy, which marks the entrance to the St. Johns River channel leading into Mayport and Jacksonville. One year, when actually keeping count, I made 39 such trips, and was still employed at the time and so limited to mostly weekends to make the attempt. Needless to say, those northeast winds kept my kayak dry on many a weekend, but then there were some vacation days when the weather cooperated. There were days when the ocean was cooperative, but the visibility was poor, and on those days I often searched in vain for the elusive buoy. Another Christmas surprise helped in conquering hazy weather for the rest of my days. It was Christmas 2000, I think, when Cass surprised me with a GPS, which pretty much pinpointed the exact location of the buoy once I got the exact coordinates set up in the device. I also learned, for the first time, how far I had been paddling to the buoy: 5.5 miles from my home beach (on a heading of 60 degrees), so all those trips had measured out at 11 miles – except, of course, when I paddled much longer than needed and never found the target.

I’ve had a number of what might be called adventures involving my trips to the buoy, including some hairy confrontations with other vessels in the area. I’ve also had a lot of time to think, which is something, I honestly believe, that most of us never have enough time to do. I refer to those bouts of thinking elsewhere in here as ruminations.

For those who have never seen the sea buoy marking the entrance to the St. John’s River, the channel leading into Mayport Naval Station and downtown Jacksonville, here it is.

(Click to enlarge all photos)

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