Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Closer to God in a Kayak VI


Surprise From The Deep

My trips to the sea buoy all follow pretty much the same pattern. If getting through the surf is difficult, and I get drenched with seawater on the way out, I stop just past the surf line and straighten out my attached water bottle and other provision bag, and blow the water off my sunglasses before the drying salt stains the lenses.

I then take up a heading of about 60 degrees and start my daily rosary using my fingers on the paddle to count the Hail Mary’s of each decade. I contend that nowhere on earth is one closer to his God than while praying the rosary at sea in a one-person kayak. Those rosaries, recited in my mind on the way to the sea buoy, are always offered for my family, friends and neighbors in need of prayers for one reason or another, and for such special intentions as the safety of our troops defending our freedom in foreign conflicts: Desert Storm, the Global War on Terror (Afghanistan), and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Unlike the current administration in Washington, I always pray for VICTORY.

My rosary is often interrupted by outside stimuli: dancing dolphins, sunning sea turtles, leaping tarpon, and the occasional shark. I have never encountered a whale on my way to or from the sea buoy, but whale encounters are documented elsewhere in this opus.

The biggest surprise during one of my trips was at first perceived as an illusion. Because of sometimes-heavy traffic in the area of the buoy and through most of the channel, one must constantly keep one’s head on a swivel. This one particular day on my way to the buoy, I remember concentrating on the west end of the channel as there was a tug and barge heading out followed by our gambling ship, which makes two trips per day to assist those determined to throw away their hard earned money in an attempt to get something for nothing. Anyway, I know I spent too much time facing west that day, and, after realizing that fact, I turned back toward the east to check for traffic from that direction. I almost fell out of my kayak when I spotted what honestly appeared to me as a tall cylindrical building coming out of the east and heading straight for the sea buoy, toward which I was headed from a southwesterly direction. It could not have been more than two or three minutes since I had checked that particular area of the ocean and seen absolutely nothing, so I could not understand how a building could now be occupying that same area. I kept on my course and the building appeared to be determined to beat me to the buoy. I do not recall how long it took for my mind to close on reality and realize that the building I was racing was actually the conning tower of a submarine. It shouldn't be necessary to report that I was soundly beaten to the buoy, partly because I altered course to get closer to the south boundary of the channel to be in a better position and closer proximity to the submarine to observe her as she passed me on her way into Mayport. There was a small group of men standing on the conning tower as the sub passed me going in the opposite direction, and we exchanged waved greetings. I’m sure they were as surprised to see me, as I had been surprised to see them.

It's been my dream since then that one day a submarine will surface from directly beneath me and ferry me into Mayport. Hasn't happened yet.


(click to enlarge)

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