This day will forever be remembered as one of the scariest events in my life as an adventurer. My goal on October 1, 2007 was to kayak from Seal Cove to Manset. I had gotten a day off from work and when I checked the tides I wasn’t sure that I could kayak this direction do to the low water when I finished at Seal Cove. I decided I would look over the area and then make a choice. I loaded everything on my jeep and was ready to leave when I realized that the jeep would not start. So I loaded up the van and got on with my journey. My car not starting was not enough to stop this leg number eight from beginning. The second issue is when I looked over the shore I realized that I was going to have to put in at Manset and kayak to Seal Cove. This should not be a problem but it also meant that I would be kayaking against the wind the entire trip. Oh my I knew there was only two choices before me. Cancel out on the trip or put the boat in the water. Well I put the boat in the water. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get back to my car but I thought I can figure that out when I get to the end of my leg. I had a few options but did not know how long the trip would take me so I did not call anyone until the afternoon.
I had some extra clothing in a plastic bag and food in a water tight bag. I had my camera and my phone in a water tight bag too. I kayaked for four hours and made it to Bass Harbor Lighthouse. I recall that the waves were too big to stop and take a photo or to eat lunch. Each point of land I had to maneuver around brought about waves that were hitting me in the lips. This had never happened to me and I did not realized how much water I was taking on board with each crash of the waves. I continued on and called my friend in Bass Harbor to see if she could pick me up at Seal Cove to return me to my car. She thought that the timing would work out and she would be sure to listen for the phone. I continued on and when I got to Bass Harbor I had to kayak into the harbor to make it out of the harbor due to the seas being so rough. Oh my I was ignoring the conditions and just trying to get to my destination. I kept kayaking and finally made it to Goose Cove which was the area that completed the leg but it was not the destination or a place where I could get to shore. I continued on and I think at this point I had let my guard down. I also was tired and rather weak from all the kayaking I had done. At thirteen miles near Latty Cove I capsized. I think the surge of the ocean had gotten bigger and though the waves were not as high and choppy as they had been the strength had increased. A wave from behind me hit the boat and just took me over and the next thing I knew I was in the cold ocean. Oh wow did that shock me. I tried to get control of my breathing and also try to figure out my plan of what to do next. The oddest thing was that the kayak was tied to me somehow and in my confusion I could not figure out what was holding me to the boat. After a few minutes I realized that my platypus water bag was connected to the deck of the kayak and the tube was connected to my life jacket. It was holding me to the partially turned over boat. Once I released the tube I then could gather myself and try to get to shore. I decided to keep the boat with me because the seas were so high and I could always choose to let go of the boat later. I tried to swim along with the boat and also tried to think of a plan as I got to shore since I did not know this part of the island. I kept telling myself in case I was hypothermic to continue to walk until I found someone to help me. I was worried a little because I could not see my yellow dry sac that had my phone inside. But I kept telling myself it did not matter and just to focus on getting to shore. Since my life jacket was not fully zipped I kept pulling it down as I tried to swim. I was struggling and not making much headway. I thought am I stupid to keep the boat with me? Since I had a rope connected to the kayak I let the kayak float away to see if it would be easier to swim. As I tried to swim with out the kayak blocking the waves I was getting smacked in the face with salt water. Well that answers that question. I thought as I swam maybe I would do better to swim on my back. So I turned onto my back and began kicking and made more progress. I then after a bit checked to see if I could touch the shore. I found that I was not able to touch and it was freaking me out to stop the progress towards shore. So I kept trying to get there by floating on my back and kicking as hard as I could. I finally made it to shore and now my boat was filling with water as the waves crashed in. I was not going to leave my boat in the water but realized that I needed to get out of the chilly ocean. So somehow between waves I got the boat pushed out and emptied out the water. I have no idea how I had the strength to do this to the kayak. I then tried to find the bag with my phone and started to concentrate on what my next action plan should be if I can’t find the phone. I was on the shore of a person’s house. It looked like a house that only has people in the summer. I found my bag and got out the phone and dialed my friend. I was direct in what had happened and my friend heard in my voice a fear that she knew I needed help ASAP. I tried to describe where I was. I walked to the house and found the name “Smith” on the garage. My heart just sank knowing there are millions of people with that last name but my friend knew where this house was and was on her way. I started to walk to the main road and when she arrived we recovered the boat and she gave me warm towels once I got into the truck. I never felt cold until I got out of the truck at her house and I finally could sense the cold. I was so thankful that the friend I called to get me had lived
in the area her entire life and knew she could find me. She had literally saved my life! Well the lesson I learned is though I thought I respected the ocean I now knew more about how dangerous it can be. I also knew that I should have gotten to shore NO MATTER WHAT when I first got tired and thought the waves were too big. So I move forward with less time on the ocean but still love to kayak! I am thankful to be alive!
I found this weekend an update of this trip from back in 2007 and one that I had written just after the kayak trip. I thought though some of it will be a repeat of the above story I would add it into the blog since it was a better reflection of the day
Kayak Adventure on October 1, 2007
I had a real eye opening experience on the ocean. I headed on a 18 mile excursion from Manset to Seal Cove solo in my kayak. I left Manset at 10:10 AM and the water was calm.
I did fine along Seawall and the trail areas. It was a little choppy around Bass Harbor Light, I called my friend Tina when I got around the point to say I was near her house but on the ocean. I gave her a heads up and said I would call her in two hours for a pick up to return to my car.
Big waves ahead:
I continued through the harbor and here it became tricky with waves and lobster boat wakes. I did okay and the next point Lopaus was really treacherous and I came into some cross waves that were larger than I wanted to be in but I managed around the point and I had a fleeting thought of maybe I should look for land. Now keep in mind that I begin my journeys with prayer. I pray along the journey with myself and others in my thoughts and always ask the Lord to give me enough wisdom to know when to get out. Reflecting back I realize that God gave me two gentle reminders to get out. I continued. Isn’t that just like life. We continue on our own path thinking it is better than God’s. What could be better than God’s plan for us? I also found out a friend had been praying for my kayaking trip.
Growing weary and capsize ahead:
Okay back to the story or the story continues…Now I crossed the cove I was in and road smaller waves which I thought was fun. It really was. It took very little energy and for the first time all day the wind was at my back and helping me on my journey. I rounded the next point and realized I was weary and coming up against some waves that again were bigger than I wanted to see. I actually got kissed by two waves. As I rose up the wave broke beside me and drenched me but kissed me in the face also as I met the crest.
Sounds funny as I think back to that day but at the time it was not funny. So I decided that this was Duck Cove and I would get out of the kayak near the road. As I moved closer to shore I realized that I was not sure if it was Duck Cove and I was going to use a lot of energy to get into the cove to be sure so if my choice was wrong I would then have to fight the waves back out to the point. I had only a few minutes to decide and so I continued along the mouth of the cove and rounded another pointed named Dix. I did not refer to the map because this is a place I had kayaked before with a friend named Betty earlier in the year beginning from Seal Cove. I now was coming into a small cove named Latty (which I did not know at the time I was in it) and the waves were still with me but did not appear as large though I believe the surge had increased in strength at the change of the tide so they were not so choppy but overall they were stronger. I was now more tired and not as alert since I had been paddling non stop for four straight hours and challenging paddling to boot. Next I was hit by a large wave from behind and I had not turned the boat into the wave to break it so it took me over. As I hit the wave I was shocked that I was now in the cold water but realized right away that I needed to not panic. I prayed for strength to make it to shore. It was about 2 PM when I first got the shock of capsizing into the water. I started to panic a little because when I slipped out of the kayak I seemed pinned to the boat by a rope. I could not at first figure out what this was but soon realized it was my drinking tube from my water bag that was attached to the deck of my boat and the tube was clipped to my life jacket. I quickly released it from my jacket. Now I turned my concern to how my body was going to react tot he chill of the ocean? I had a choice of leaving the boat behind or using the boat to get to shore. I chose to stay with the boat and try to use it to help me float to shore. I did have a life jacket on but it was rather loose since it was not zipped totally closed. I took a count of my belongings and everything that was tied to the boat other than a garbage bag of clothes that was floating away. I grabbed the bag of clothing and thought at that moment was I getting distracted from the idea of getting to shore and getting out of this cold ocean? But I soon realized that the garbage bag was tied very tightly and was filled with air and was floating before me keeping the salt water from splashing into my mouth.
Swimming to shore:
Now I tried to figure out how to best use the kayak as I was swimming to shore and I finally spotted my dry sac with my cell phone. This brought a little relief and I planned ahead to get a call out for help as soon as I got to shore. My tentative plan was once I reached shore to check the phone see if there was reception and if not to immediately look for help and if no one was at the residence then to walk to the nearest road. I thought it was good at the time to think things through as it seemed an eternity to swim to shore with the kayak. I also was not aware of how clear my thinking would be as hypothermia set in. I heard a strange chiming sound and thought that is probably my cell phone dying as the water gets into the dry sac but then I thought that the sound was coming from shore. Later on I realized it was a huge wind chime on shore and I was heading right towards it. After about ten minutes of swimming I realized I had to make more headway or I was never going to reach the shore. I accessed my situation and thought should I leave the boat? I tried to swim without the boat and just holding the rope tied to the front and I felt panic being hit by the waves. So this made me think that I needed to remain with the boat and find a more effective way to reach shore. So I remembered that I am a much better swimmer when on my back and the side swimming seemed to fight the life jacket with every stroke. So I turned onto my back and began kicking and stroking with all my strength and I could feel that progress was being made and now I just needed to hope I could stand once I reached the shore. Much of the shoreline in Maine is rocky and the water is very deep near the shore.
Finally shore is reached:
About fifteen minutes later I was finally at shore and tripping over rocks…I found walking rather awkward and was feeling sort of numb. I figured I had been in the ocean about twenty five minutes. I proceeded to remove all my belongings from the kayak and threw them onto the shore. I had everything tied to the boat and it took a while to untie the ropes with my cold fingers. The kayak was lodged against some rocks and I was having trouble moving it full of water. The waves were pushing it hard against the rocks as each wave crashed to shore. I remembered that this had happened once before when I was kayaking with my sister and we had moved the kayak into deeper water and then turn it over to empty it out. I also recalled how difficult it was to do this with two people and I was alone. How am I going to do this alone? I had to get my boat to safety. Well I did it and got the boat moved out into deeper water and turned it over to remove most of the water and then carried it to shore. Next I found the bag with my cell phone in it and was thrilled to find it dry inside the bag. I called my friend but got her voice mail. Next I started to call my husband Dick and then the phone rang. It was Tina and I told her I had
capsized. I found it odd to say this and also had to tell her I wasn’t sure where I was. I knew the coved I had crossed but did not know the name of the last point I had come around and the map was all wet and smudged. Tina did a fabulous job and figured out my location. While I was waiting for Tina I called Dick to tell him I had capsized and was cold but okay. We stayed in contact on the phone until she found me. Praise God! I don’t think I was in grave danger but I was pretty cold. I am not sure tramping around much longer in wet clothes would have helped the situation. Tina was my heroine! We went back down to the shore and got my kayak. There was no one at home at the house where I had come to shore.
Lessons from God:
My lesson in the matter is to LISTEN to God. He was telling me to get out and nudging me to make smart choices but I was driving the boat with my own will. Isn’t that typical?
He gives us the map (the bible), and the paddles (talents), and even a beautiful surroundings (family, friends, relatives) and at times we still move on a course destined for the rocks. I had always kayaked close to shore and realized getting out of the water was my top objective if the going got rough. I have a much higher respect for the water’s of Maine after surviving this adventure.