When Chris, our guide through the mangroves, said this to UD at the end of her kayak trip today, UD smiled very broadly. She’d been so nervous about going out solo that at the last minute she asked Chris if she could share his kayak.

“Can’t do that,” he replied. “I’ve got to have my own boat in case people need rescuing.”

So against a twenty mile an hour wind, UD joined four other kayakers as they paddled out to the mangroves. The wind settled down when they got to the islands.

It wasn’t the wind and the choppy water that made the outing a bit of a challenge; it was negotiating the narrow inlets through the trees — staying clear of voluminous roots, threading the boat through vegetation.

Once inside the long cathedral the sun-filtered canopies made, UD let her paddle rest. She drifted among the creeks and watched the waterbirds and the starfish. Chris dipped his little yellow net here and there and came up with prickly things and slimy things, all of which he insisted UD hold. Once in awhile he’d suddenly row like mad after a ray or a shark, and we’d follow him and watch large dark creatures ripple just below the waves.

Military jets broke the silence now and then, but it was mainly a quiet and meditative thing, being out there. Once UD calmed down about her ability to steer a kayak, she floated happily above the shallow grassy water. She recalled how her mother liked kayaking on the C & O Canal.

************

UPDATE: For a terrific primer on all things kayaking, go here, to Chris Cole’s article at Nature Sport Central, “How to Kayak – A Beginner’s Guide.”

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