Sunday, March 31, 2013

Great Gott, Black Islands

We drove along, happily chatting away with an entire sunny day of paddling ahead of us when I heard a little “thunk.” My foot came off the gas. Both bows still hung over the windshield, unchanged. But one of the tie-down ropes now dangled loosely, drifting down over the hood to the underside of the car, where it had previously been attached and taut. In the rear view, the tailgating dude was still right there, seemingly unaware of the his potential of being skewered by the pointy end of a Pygmy Coho-- a kayak-kabob. There was no room to pull over, but a turn-off loomed just ahead. We coasted toward it, watching the rope flop around until I turned, maneuvering the car off the road as carefully as I could... but the rope abruptly tightened and the bow jerked downward. I hit the brakes.

The rope had caught beneath the wheel, winding around it like a power winch, pulling the kayak down with it. I backed the car a few feet and Rebecca pulled the rope out, but the boat still angled downward. The roof rail had pulled one nut right through the roof, and ripped out of another. The clothesline we’d tied the stern with had snapped. Fortunately. Something had to give, and it could have been the boat -- in pieces, all over the road. We tied it all back together as well as we could and headed down the road... carefully. At Nate’s house, we added a strap around the whole thing, running it through the doors and inside the car. That held it. We proceeded to the launch.

The irony is that I’m extremely careful and worrisome when it comes to car-topping kayaks. The bow and stern lines, which are essential on a shorter roof, turned-out to be the weak link. So we’ll figure-out a system that can’t get beneath the wheels if it fails. In the meantime, well, I installed the rack myself, so I can fix it. More holes to drill, a little Bondo: no problem.

Later, we paddled out past the Bass Harbor Head light and followed the bar toward the meadowy north end of Great Gott Island. High tide had just passed, and a mild ebbing tide pushed us west. We paddled past The Pool on Great Gott and lingered in the narrows where the current had begun increasing.

Then we splashed around a bit among the rosy pink granite slots and ledges on the east sides of Little Gott and Black. We were eager to hear details from Nate’s five-star training trip to Scotland, which he provided in bits and pieces as we made our way to Little Black Island for lunch.

Nate had an afternoon commitment, so he headed back early, catching a few rides on the mid-tide waves over the bar. We hung-out for awhile on Little Black, just walking around, looking at the rocks and the big view of the open ocean.

We meandered back, making a big “figure-8” route: north around Black, south around the Gotts. The waves had settled-down over the bar by the time we headed back across, and we drove home without further mishap.

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