29 May 2012

When the journey matters more than the destination

From Tsunami Rangers site:

"To mosey is not to become oblivious to the reality of kayaking on the exposed open coast, but rather to be deeply present and aware by not always following the map, the plan or the objective. Sharing this way of being on the water is one of the elixirs, the absinthe of the Tsunami tribe but can be part of any sea kayaking journey by anyone, anytime."

ex Cap_30

That pretty much sums up my view on travelling on the sea (or land, by human power).
There is a marked contrast between the destination being the objective or the journey itself being the focal point. When you want the journey to never end, when rushing does not seem right; when the highlight of the day were those beautiful waves crashing into the rocky point or the encounter with a whale then you know that the journey means more than the destination.
If the little islands with white sandy beaches and the pretty lagoons or the deep sea caves with the surging swell lure you more than the results on your GPS then you might value the journey more than the destination.


My most memorable trips are not the ones that were run under strict schedule or plan but those that just evolved as the days went by. My favorite way of planning trips is where enough research goes into delivering a relatively safe environment but not a rigid schedule or itinerary. I still laugh at the prospect of some paddlers mapping their journey at home on their GPS by "breadcrumbing" the waypoints with such accuracy that a warning beep will tell them that they are off-course, by mere yards.
My ideal plan is where I look at a map and I see a lot of potential along an interesting coastline that might deliver a rugged environment.

Manolo Pastoriza's
Photo: Manolo Pastoriza _used with permission
Since I am not one for large crossings that will see me off the visual security of landmarks, I probably would get bored with endless pushing of the paddle with a compass or GPS as my only stimulation.
I also like the unknown, the discovery. I often feel that there is not enough interesting coast line in my area that would make sea kayak travel mysterious enough. I wish I lived along an unpopulated rocky coast with endless islands to explore where I could spend weeks covering just a short distance.


I envy my Swedish friend's backyard archipelagos although I don't covet his country's climate. Just like my other passions; mountain biking and backpacking, for me the sea kayak journey has to involve fun and play time.
When I was heavily involved in mountain biking, occasionally people would ask me: how many miles did you ride this week end? (knowing I just came back from a mtb safari) “Only 8 this time” was my reply. But little they knew that those 8 miles where very intense. They involved crawling over improbable boulders with friends spotting me to save me in a wipe-out on a radical move. We would spend hours trying to "solve the problem", not unlike in bouldering.

creek crossing

The same reason why now sometimes I am just happy to go rolling my kayak in the sea, covering only a few hundred yards that morning.
For me it has never been about speed  (well, driving 200 Km an hour on the Italian or German Autobahn not counting) or distance. I have never owned a road bike, never participated in a ski race and never took up running. My style is usually slow and bumpy where skills are more important than muscles, where the fun factor always wins.

22 May 2012

Photo: unloading

Stevatron at pre-paddle gear up. 
Weather has been so perfect lately (actually a little bit too calm for my liking) making paddling just so easy. Heat is gone, sun is not blistering my skin any more and above all, the aquabogans (jetskiers) have abated :-)
Water temps are still around 21C and, unless windy, no protective clothing is necessary.
Ah, one more: no bugs.

15 May 2012

VIDEO: tropical island paddling

The plan for cruise paddling in calm waters was not going to happen and only the bay where we camped was actually sheltered. Despite the wind, the weather was warm and late afternoon paddles were a delight.

select 720P if you have fast Internet connection

Poking our heads around the corner revealed a much bigger sea than what I usually paddle in and certainly a novelty for my Swedish friend Johan.
It seems that the traditional paddles were not ideal for rockgardening, lacking the raw power a large short bladed Euro style can offer, but it was a godsend in the head wind.
This trip was not structured around a rigid plan where miles had to be paddled to reach our destination; the destination was already reached and only playtime was our schedule.
We took time to smell the roses, or shall I say the seaweed, followed sea eagles soaring and took time to watch the sunset; we were in no rush.

Thanks to Cesare Ferrero for the video editing critique.


01 May 2012

Photo: strong-wind-warning sailing

The week-end was shaping to be wasted: heavy rain and a strong wind warning kept me off the water on Saturday but I was still optimistic for Sunday.
Being outside at least one day of the week is my priority and I really regret it if I miss it.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a strong wind warning but the wind chart website promised lighter winds on the western side of the bay.
We decided to head out anyway and make a call at the launch site.
I was hoping for some exhilarating sea kayak sailing but it was incredibly calm and sunny when we set off: disappointing.

I was dressed for a colder and wetter scenario and welcomed the breeze once half way across to my favorite destination island only a short distance paddle.
Eventually the wind did pick up to a healthy 15-20 knots but dropped off again a few hours later.


Sailing into storm_c