Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Short Paddle

Rain across river

     "According to the radar, we can expect rain within the hour."

     "OK with me."

     "Me too."

Despite a dull overcast sky and impending rain showers, the three of us slid our kayaks into Whittaker Creek, paddled around the point and headed downstream in the river. Dark water, darker shores, troubled clouds overhead, and the breeze was confused, wisping one way and then another. Across the river, the blocky hulk of the phosphate barge rumbled also downstream toward the Pamlico River and Aurora, site of the dystopian fossil mine.

With a casual and steady stroke, each of us slipped quietly and alone through the small chop, watching the clumsy take-off of cormorants that dropped from their pilings with too little lift to make flight, then ran over the surface as they flapped madly to gain altitude. Quiet and still in its own way, our only sounds were the slap and splash of river waves against the paddles and hulls. We liked the quiet and stayed a ways off the shore to keep our distance from men and the noises they make.

Tree with osprey nest

On our return, one of the ospreys, keeping watch over the nearby nest atop a dead pine shoreside, launched itself into the air with all the grace the cormorants lack, swooping immediately out of sight.  Further out the peninsula, a great blue heron stood sentinel. We pulled onto a crescent of sand beach where the river has broken through the peninsula. Stepping out of the kayaks, we expected chilly water, but it was simply cool and pleasant. Beside the circular pond (closer to the river than it used to be), fresh tracks and scat filled with broken crab shells. Otters.

Small beach on river

Slipping across the sunken peninsula, we paddled back into the creek. A couple hundred yards upstream behind a finger of marsh, the fully exposed blue hull of a sailboat that was seemingly abandoned and which has filled with water, turned onto its side and now permits the creek to flow freely into and out of the cockpit and cabin. There is some good stainless topside, some decent teak cabinetry below. And someone has left the key on a float wedged into a cleat. The beer bottle on the high side was new also. As it is not clear whether it is truly abandoned, and not wanting the liability of claiming salvage rights, we looked, but did not touch. There is a sunken hull nearby that is fully submerged from which we may try to recover a small bronze cleat and winch.

Photo courtesy TMP.

What began as spattered raindrops settled into a steady light rain. We were already wet from paddling and wading along the shore, so we only cared about a hot shower and a cup of hot tea. No matter the weather, there are things to see from the water that are not seen or noticed from the land.

Ospreys and nest

Celebration has returned with a fine hard bonnet (dodger) fashioned over the winter by Steve and Lynn. They, along with Ullr, report that Marathon Key is a vortex of odd and unusual characters and a wonderful place to moor. Anarchy reigns.

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