Braided Streams

Reflections | Travels | Interests

Sea Kayaking

I recently returned from three days atop southern Eleuthera’s sparkling waters and two nights on starlit beaches. Our students had been in The Bahamas for all of ten days when we set out on this journey, our kayaks packed with tents, food, snorkeling gear, and our placebooks—journals with empty pages for self-reflection and recounting our days’ adventures.

Like some of the students, I was a little nervous about the trip. On a similar sea kayak voyage back in August, when I was new to the island, I battled seasickness and struggled to paddle as hard as the rest of the group. Prior to our trip, the weather had also been the coldest I’ve experienced in The Bahamas so far, with very strong winds. But when we unloaded our boats from the trailer in Rock Sound, the sun was out and the water was crystal clear. The wind had died down, but was still strong enough to push us along on relatively calm seas.

We stopped for lunch in a quiet cove; as soon as we paddled there, the roar of the wind was blocked, allowing us to hear the pleasant sound of our paddles dipping into the water. We took shelter from the sun beneath the shade of casurinas. Our group of thirteen students and three leaders relaxed into getting to know each other, sharing responsibilities, and enjoying the sleepy beaches and lapping waves.

We traveled seven miles on our first day and cooked rice and beans over a fire when we arrived at our campsite. Our second morning was sunny and clear, and we lazily paddled another five or so miles, reaching our second campsite at lunchtime. Once there, we had hours to enjoy the sunlight on water and the breeze through the trees before building our campfire and taking moments of silence among the group chatter to look up at the stars.

Sleeping on soft ground with the ocean as a sound machine is the best kind of sleep, and our bodies, sore from paddling, were grateful for early bedtimes. The morning brought the sunrise into our tents, and coffee by the campfire, looking out at a bottle-green, glittering sea, made us wish we could stay on our secluded beach forever. But with dark clouds looming in the north, we reluctantly got in our boats and paddled the remaining two miles to campus, the rain sprinkling the sea and our group relaxed and filled with good cheer after our journey.