Open-water fun continues
The last two days have been a true test of the new boat's capabilities. Yesterday I covered 5 miles paddling around in the surf near Sand Island, staying in the heavier seas and getting a feel for how she handles rough water. The caulking fix worked perfectly, and I remained dry while paddling in everything from large rolling swells to the choppy, unpredictable waves on the sandbars. The boat handles well in following seas, into the swell, abeam, and at all angles in between. The Pelican would have been completely swamped in yesterday's conditions.
Today I went back out for some distance work, now that I have a feel for how the Cape Horn handles.
10.8 miles in 3 hours:
Starting at Fort Gaines, I paddled to the pier as usual, and then set off down the west side of Sand Island. At the end of the island, I stopped for a short break, contemplating a trip down the eastern side back to the pier before pressing for home. Instead, I decided to make an open-water dash directly back to Fort Gaines. This shortened what would have been a 14-mile paddle down to just under 11, but also gave me a feel for open-water handling, emboldening me to make a future bay crossing or a trip down to the old Sand Island lighthouse. That light is 5 miles from the mouth of Mobile Bay where Sand Island used to be, before years of waves and currents moved it to its present position off the D.I. pier.
I'm tired from my first long paddle in months and happy with the new boat. As soon as the new camera arrives I'm going out again.
When I got back to Fort Gaines, I had my first dolphin sighting as well; 3 bottlenose dolphins crossing the small channel leading into the ferry dock and the Coast Guard station. Damn, I wish I'd taken even a disposable camera.