Paddling out from Sucia in the morning we pass this 25ft wooden
sailboat, the Lizzie Hawker. It's love at first sight for me, and
I tell Taylor "If I had that sailboat I would need nothing else in this
Stiff winds were predicted this morning but we manage to sneak across
to Patos island on calm seas. Our group consists of five
kayaks built under Kiliii's tutelage and three of my F1
prototypes. At home in the surf I am always refining the
design and boats from even a month ago are considered worthless, my
judgments are a bit harsh. It was nice to see that even the older
boats toured beautifully and made me appreciate my work much more.
Noah is always leaping ahead. I told him, "If you don't
stay with the group I swear I'll tie you to Claire and make you tow
her. " I made good on my threat several times during the trip,
which worked well for both paddlers.
The group pushes forward, we are on a ferry angle here which is why
there is no destination visible in the distance.
After the early crossing (anything earlier than 10am is an early
crossing for these guys), a fire is built and water is boiled for
I paddle around the island to find a swarm of people fishing from
motorboats, I briefly drop a line only to retrieve this tiny
copper rockfish, I let him go only to see the boat next to me
catch and keep him a few minutes later. Rock fish
population along the entire west coast have collapsed but people are
still allowed to fish. It makes me furious. I still
fish near shore on the Oregon coast but I may even quit that.
Everyone you talk to has some elaborate rationalization about how it's
not really so bad or how it's not their problem.
I paddle back to camp and stash my kayak behind and rock and wander
over to see what other people are doing.
Noah and Jack are practicing rolls. I am impressed by their
tenacity and wish this kind of motivation were more common.
In the afternoon sun humans beach themselves to rest on these warm
Back at camp someone has cooked up some oysters and mussels.
I like them much better cooked.
While shelling clams for dinner Kiliii discovered this tiny parasitic
crab that lives inside a clam. It was the only thing that I've
ever seen gross Kiliii out, and that's saying something about a a guy
who will eat almost anything (whole mice, seagulls, roadkill).
Seaweed drying over driftwood.
Kiliii stripped some bark off of a fallen cedar tree and showed me how
to make this strong natural cord.
That evening we feast on two huge billy cans of fresh clam chowder.
Thaddeus and Claire in perfect light.
Kiliii entertains with his guitar.
Zach entertains with, um, performance art.
Jack declares his omnipotence.
Noah demonstrates the awesome power of the Kundalini.
Claire shows us her luck with this clover.
The ultimate evening pastime however is pebble baseball.
The sport is really irresistible and soon we are all whacking pebbles
which make the most delicious zinging sounds when you hit them just
Kiliii blasts one into the sunset.
The next morning it's time to leave and we pack up. Kiliii
and the interns still have five more days. Thaddeus and I have
work to go to so we leave the group for a twenty-seven mile paddle back
to the mainland. I leave all the charts and navigation gear with
the group so inevitably we get a little lost on the way home.
Conclusion: On this trip I learned useful native skills, a few
edible plants, and gained a renenewed respect for the functionality of
do-it-yourself paddling gear. Before the trip I even made
my own tow belt, which cost me a fraction of a commercial belt and
works just as well. On the trip I struggled to understand the
value of wild food harvest, especially in places as heavily impacted as
the San Juans. I did, however, appreciate the choice that wild
food poses, when you eat wild you are directly responsible for the
impacts of your activities. It would be like going to the grocery
store and with each purchase you get all the gasoline and fertilizer
that it took to make that product and then before you can eat it you
have to go outside and dump that stuff down the storm drain, and
afterwards you have to throw the packaging in your backyard. What
is less ethical? Whereas I see local organic agriculture as the
plausible future of food, wild harvest carefully practiced has a lot to
offer both in the nourishment of our bodies and our minds. Also,
many of our everyday products could be easily replaced with natural
ones, decreasing our reliance on plastics and other toxic material and
freeing us from the need to work to buy those products. Instead
our time is spent making the cord/basket/pot/house/kayak/ect, and in
doing so the thing becomes not only a finished, nontoxic product, but
also the culmination of a series of relationships and
experiences. This process of interaction breathes life into
a world where the intermediary of currency has erased our connections
to our resources and each other. In the search for wild food and
the rediscovery of indigenous technologies we discover ourselves as
citizens of nature as opposed to merely tourists.
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