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Kitty Hawk to the border... this day has been in the making for a long time. 

5AM start time at Jack's house... came downstairs to two bowls, two spoons, two bananas and a vat of whole grain cereal medley. We have learned that our paddle buddies totally "get" our love for quality and quantity. Thank you, Jack Crouch! We decided to do as much gear prep as we could in Jack's driveway, remembering the osprey-sized mosquitoes we met the night before at Promenade Watersports. Once there, we wanted to see if there was a way to the water other than through the driving range and the swamp (all normal entry ways seem to be closed at the hours we would like access)... so we drove around and had the option of jumping the fence to the horse stables, or bushwhacking through the marsh. Neither the horse nor the electric wire around his fence seemed overly welcoming, so we opted for the marsh. 

We were on the water by 6:30 and headed 35-ish miles north to cross the border. In the beginning, the wind was mostly at our back. although swinging around off our left shoulders. The Currituck Sound is beautiful!! It is relatively shallow and even 1/2 mile off shore, we were brushing over grasses growing beneath. It's protected in the sense that there are no inlets to the sea, and filled with small grassy islands which are home to lots of fun birds to watch while paddling and a few jumping fish. It's also abundant with what we thought were "fishing huts"... but later learned that all these boxes masked by thickets and grasses were actually "duck blinds." Apparently, this area is a migration path for ducks, Canada Geese and other birds, and thus a haven for hunters. Poor ducks. Maybe that was what was meant on the fishing map duct-taped to our board that said "Danger... Prohibited Target Area." Luckily, we saw, heard, or experienced no hunters, but did enjoy our breaks on the docks of these duck blinds.

If you watched our spot tracker (thanks to Ben Friberg!) throughout the day, we crossed the Currituck Sound not once, not twice, but essentially 3 times. The winds were increasing and kept changing direction, so we kept seeking shelter to save our shoulders. On the east side, it was just us, the islands, and the duck blinds. On the west side, we paddled alongside a shoreline community where we encountered a few other SUP'ers out for a Sunday paddle. Throughout the trip, we giggled when people would throw a hand up and yell out, "Where ya headed?"... Nonchalantly we'd yell back, "Virginia." And, after momentary lock-jaw... "Yeah... where'd ya come from?"... "South Carolina." Enough said, just keep paddling. 

Another joy of a shoreline community are the nice low grassy front yards with built in benches for us to stop and have PocketFuel and banana sandwiches. We got over waiting for invitations on about day 2 and lived by the mantra, "if you can't find a spot, make a spot." After a short respite in someone's front yard and about 15-20 miles to go, all seemed well on the west side... protected from the SW winds til we got around the point near Cedar Bay/Coinjock Bay, and a downwind shot straight across to Knotts Island where the border awaited. Unfortunately, as soon as we got around that point, the wind had shifted back from the SE, and our downwind turned into an upwind trek back across Currituck Sound. We headed to the islands just north of the Currituck Banks National Estuarine Research Reserve, and just south of Carova. From a duck's eye, these islands likely appear to be a simple classical labyrinth pattern... but trying to navigate a throughway from a paddler's perspective is more like the hedge maze in Harry Potter's third task of the Triwizard Tournament. With every twist and turn, we guessed at which waterway would allow us to exit and see Knott's Island. Actually, this little island puzzle offered incredible scenery, and a fun new challenge to our orienteering skills. We popped out on the other side and had a downwind run back across the opening to the Currituck over to Knott's Island where we hoped to see our friend Nik Miller paddling his surf ski out to meet us and lead us to the dock of the first unsuspecting house across the border. 

We both saw Nik at the same time... a bright orange dot in the distance with two rotating flickers as he paddled up wind to greet us... hard to explain the joy when we saw him. Thank you, Nik!! When we intersected, he said it was about 2k to the border and another "little bit" to the dock where friendly faces awaited. Of course, there was one last cross-wind cross-chop crossing to get to that A-framed house where we would end our journey, but it was within sight. We shot across to the left and then the wind pushed us straight into the boat ramp where we sat on our boards, looked at our Garmins, looked at each other and gave each other a hug. Our Garmins read 304.65 miles traveled; 77 hours, 54 minutes and 30 seconds paddled; and 25,911 calories burned ... that hug will be long remembered as an inarticulable appreciation of friendship and what we both dreamed of, endured, experienced, and loved about our paddle up the North Carolina coast. 

Our new friends... Bill, and Tina... who just happened to live in the first house over the border, welcomed us into their home with quesadillas and beer. We both agreed that a meal never tasted so good. We loaded up Nik's truck and he drove us 2 hours south through rural farms of Virginia and North Carolina, and back to Promenade Watersports where we unloaded and reloaded one last time and headed our separate ways. 

We will share more soon about what's next, but safe to say, the mission to protect our coastline will continue, as will our hope that we, and others, will become more and more aware that there is no "away" when we "throw away" plastic. The invitation to work together against ocean pollution together remains. And the gratitude to so many for support, encouragement, and sharing in our journey, and our mission, will remain in our hearts for many, many years to come. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. And paddle, paddle, paddle.

 


Comments

Theo Scripps
06/25/2013 1:49pm

What an accomplishment! Bravo!

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Tessa Sutton
06/29/2013 9:37pm

Congratulations, well done. Love reading your informative blogs. What an adventure.

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