Seasoned Salt 2021 – Dorsey DeMaster

Date: April 22, 2021 Author: Dorsey DeMaster

After you read this,  you’ll think I’m nuts for saying this, but my last kayak trip (Panama City to Overstreet) was an awesome experience!

I will add to that statement that if this kind of trip was during my 1st 100 miles on the CT, I probably would not have continued the quest! But the miles have seasoned me (or made me crazy!).

Initially, my schedule was to launch on Tuesday, April 14th, but the rainy weather combined with thunderstorms forced me to delay my launch until Friday April 16th. Leading up to Thursday night,the  forecast was clearing skies with winds NNE 10-14 mph. This was an ‘easy’ paddle…two 15-mile segments, comparatively short to a 29-mile paddle I had last month (that story is coming).

When I launched Friday morning at 9’ish, there was a weather cell but it’s movement looked negligible. As I paddled, the cell I saw earlier thankfully remained in the Gulf, since it was a heavy convective cell.

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Then the atmosphere began to percolate more cells around me. The first one produced a heavy downpour, and I hid under a private dock. When the rain quit, I pressed forward.

The next two cells packed a whollup! I could see & hear them coming & I used the weather radar app on my phone to determine their distance & how much time I had to paddle before finding my next dock for refuge.

I targeted my next dock, and within 10 paddle strokes, the sky let lose; with a downpour only Florida knows how to deliver, this time accompanied by cracks of thunder that pierced my ears. I’ve been taught “If you can hear it, you can get struck (by lightning)” so I hung out under that dock for quite awhile.
The next cell wasn’t as bad as the last, but I still played it safe & hid under the next dock. The next cell was just a light drizzle, so I paddle in it. There was no wind with this cell, so it was like paddling in calm conditions. The map below from my Garmin (arrows added) shows where I sought refuge from the storms.

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By the time I got to the Tyndall AFB bridge, I was ready to get out of my kayak (i.e. I needed a bio break).

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While taking a break near the bridge, skies began to clear….just as they forecasted!

…and then a NNE 15-20 mph showed up. My choice was to paddle 4.5 miles, directly into the wind across the East Bay, to the primitive campsite. Alternatively, I could hug the coast adding another 2+ miles to my paddle. You can see on my track (blue dots) where I was thinking about it. This is where the “seasoned salt”  (1000+ miles under my belt) kicked in. I went for it.

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As 2’ swells washed over my bow I kept repeating “Slow & steady win the race”….a tried and true saying I learned from good friend and CT# 9 Gus Bianchi.  Sorry, no photos. I had my hands full….three miles…2 miles to go, then as I approach Piney Point primitive campsite, the wind & waves got remarkable calmer. 

I arrived at my primitive campsite, counting my blessings I didn’t have to set up in the rain.

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  After a well deserved bath, Twitch, my dinner companion, who earlier in the day,  took a beating from the pouring rain, wind & breaking waves on the bow, joined me for dinner. Tonights menu was perfectly timed; comfort food – chicken and dumplings ala Dorsey.  The evening was pleasant…gentle breeze, no bugs, a dinner date, and the crackle & glow of a camp fire…every  girls dream.

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As you know, I have been struggling with doing solos, so why not face it head on and often?  I have been doing back-to-back solos, so ample opportunity to be alone, listen to the ache in my soul. Trying to fight or understand it is futile. So now I simply embrace it, embrace the human experience.  I let the crocodile tears pour down my face…and emotion flow and move through me. Especially as I watched the sun set to a chorus of marsh frogs.  Then I let them sing me to sleep.  Solo.

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It’s rare to get uninterrupted sleep when you’re camping. The frog chorus, changing octaves as the night progressed helped me sleep, but two heavy rain showers woke me twice during the night. It was also my first rain test on the tent…she passed!

I wanted to launch at sunrise, but the lack of sleep caused me to oversleep and wake up an hour before I wanted to leave. It typically takes me 2 hours to pack up, breakfast included, but I was able to get on the water within an hour, foregoing my normal oatmeal/coffee breakfast. I had a 15 mile paddle, a short distance in comparison to my typical trips, so I decided to eat while I paddled. Plus I had a trail angel picking me up at the end, which motivated me to get moving, as I didn’t want to keep my angel waiting.

Saturday’s paddle was a complete joy; tide & wind perfect… like she was trying to make up for the day prior…hell, I earned it. The 15 mile paddle to Overstreet was softly lined with salt marsh grass and pine trees. I was also able to observe several lines of dark/low hanging frontal clouds,  which I thought may be a new threat, move overhead like a rolling pin. 

I arrived at Overstreet in record time – not trying, its just my normal calm wind paddle speed…3.5-4.0 mph. I arrived 20 minutes before my trail angel, allowing me to unpack my gear and prevented him from waiting.

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While this trip has shaved another 30 miles off the CT trail  – I think I’m going to approach the next 410 miles a little differently.  My goal is to not approach it as a task, to knock out the miles, but as a journey. Call it salt – seasoned salt. Which when applied correctly when cooking, adds flavor beyond ones expectation. 
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