Written by Fidgit
I had found what resources I could about long distance paddling in the Caribbean along the Central American Coast. I felt encouraged to have found two teams in the last 20 years who had paddled long sections of the same coast. One team had paddled it in 2000, and I poured over their website and blogs religiously. Another team paddled a significant section of the Miskito coast as well, and I was able to track them down on social media and get some words of advice. What boats do you think they used to get to such a remote location? The same as we were waiting on. Trak!
Weather and seasons were proving hard to nail down, primarily because I do not know the language of the seas, but also because there just is not a ton of information about the area. I was having little to no luck in finding recent and relevant charts which meant relying almost completely on technology and a 1:1,100,000 map of Central America I had found at the local Barnes n Noble – because I sure couldn’t afford the physical charts for purchase online!
- With all of my spreadsheets of gear-lists, town-stops, and daily distances refined
- Encouraged by an outpouring of support from our people to equip us with any gear we had not been able to get sponsored
- Research about border crossings and parks along the way complete
- Necessary and supporting paperwork and phone numbers logged
- Apps downloaded
- Routes uploaded, and
- InReach mini, GPSMAP 66ST, and Instinct watch paired
I felt as planned as possible.
I was nervous but found comfort in knowing that we had the best gear and the backing of the best supporters on the whole planet. As if in a sign of blessing, our Year 4 art piece arrived just two days before departure and we hung it in the Her Odyssey gallery.
Everything was coming together.
. . . all I needed was a boat.
The team at Trak have created such an innovative boat and craft them with such care, that they are stretched thin trying to meet the demand of investors and enthusiasts. We were waiting with fingers and toes crossed and making contingency plans in case the boats did not make it in time for our flights back to Panama. Lo and behold, the day before we were to fly out, the boats arrived. I spent the night before take off setting it up in my living room and then chopping off my hair in anticipation of the heat.
Early the next morning, I bundled off and met Neon on a layover in Las Vegas, and we made it to Panama City. There we met Richard, our kayaking guru, who had paddled the Maranon River with us the year before. After a few days of planning and getting on the same page, we hopped an overnight bus to Almirantes where we caught a boat to the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, from which I proposed to start the journey. The waters seemed like a safe training ground to acquaint ourselves with the new gear and as a tourist destination, would not stick out too much.
I had planned long and hard but had very limited experience in kayaks (a few overnights on lakes and around sheltered islands in the Virgin Islands). This would be both Neon and my first long kayak expedition, and my heart was in my throat and anxiety had taken up permanent residence at the base of my skull. I told myself once we were moving, the tension would ease. The combination of Richard’s boat skills, my planning, and Neon’s navigation skills would be enough to put us in the flow which would whisk us along toward the goal of Belize and where I had already begun planning to meet with cycling friends to complete crossing Central America just in time for me to hit CDT.
So long as everything went smoothly, this would work out perfectly . . .