Fall Row 2012: Floating Vagabond

One of the great joys of being a floating vagabond is that you can stop and go where you please.  And stop I do.

It drives my oldest boy crazy, but when we stop I like to explore in a little more detail than he can tolerate. A wrecked boat, an island, an interesting log I want to sketch, a bird (and guano) covered rock.  I love studying things big and small.

But my favorite places to stop are ports of call.  My kind hosts on Bainbridge dropped me off in just a few inches of water at Blakely Harbor.  Did I heed the rising wind as it rippled through the harbor and start on my way?  No, I rowed through an abandoned sawmill and inspected a bunch of moored sailboats, each of which cost several times the value of my house.

After rowing through a few miles of open water, far short of my goal, my mind turned – as it often does – to baked goods.   Did I banish the tempting mental image of oven-fresh treats and continue to my destination?  Heck no!  I found my way into Eagle Harbor, tied up at the dock, and scoured the town for a good cinnamon roll.  I didn’t find one, but from a perch on a grassy spot I enjoyed studying the people about town. Some of them seemed in a hurry to get to obs or appointments.  That wasn’t a problem for me at the moment.

As the winds rose that afternoon, the chop picked up.  My progress slowed by a third or more off my regular speed. Did I care?  Not until that night, when I had to wade through the wind waves to unload my gear at the campground.

I set off early the next morning.  I wanted to see some wildlife and log a few miles in the glassy morning sea, but I also had to take a peek at quaint Port Madison. You’ve never seen more “No trespassing” signs at a harbor than here. It was enough to deter this wanderer.

My next port of call was Kingston.  Did I really need anything?  With a week’s worth of food and a few gallons of water, I could make it to Canada without a supply stop.  But I wanted to mail off a few postcards, and I still couldn’t banish the thought of baked goods from my mind. I pulled into the port and wandered the town. Soon, to my delight, I came across a bakery selling half-pound cookies.  Yes, you read that correctly, folks. At eight ounces and eight hundred calories per cookie, they were a hungry rower’s dream.  I ate one, then thought about departing before the wind picked up more. As I sat lazily on a bench, watching people scurry for the ferry, I contemplated how delicious the cookies were and how I lucky I was not to have to be anyplace other than where I was… so I went back for another cookie.

Outside the bakery, I stood on a cliff overlooking the sea. A sailboat below caught my fancy and I decided to see if I could catch up with it.  After all, there was nowhere else I had to be…


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