Journal Entry: 12/28/69,

Extracted and Expanded for Letter Home

new year's plans & the wind journal extracts


Journal entry for Sunday, 12/28

I've finally found out what "bad weather" means out here in the desert, Wind!

Last night I made camp in a moderate wind on an island of sand, but as the evening progressed so did the force of the wind. I pulled my kayak up on high ground, turned it on its side, & propped it up with two paddle halves. I lay in the lee of the kayak with my poncho stretched over me. Packs formed the ends of my crude shelter.

Dinner was a can of cold corned beef, some pumpernickel & tea. All liberally seasoned with fine sand by the howling wind. Tea water was very slow to boil due to the sputtering of the flame on the stove.In the end I could not finish the whole can of beef.

By about 12 o'clock the wind seemed to have peaked at about 30 knots. The rudder on the boat was banging up and down, the bare trees across the channel were rattling something fierce, the wind howled through the canes nearby. Sand was beginning to pile up in my little shelter, my air mattress was flat & I, huddled in my sleeping bag, was getting very little sleep.

Morning dawned. I shook off piles of sand, crawled out & was greeted by a giant sand blaster. I cursed & crawled back inside. Breakfast was cereal & tangerines and of course sand. By this time the my whole world was sand. I slept with it, I ate it, wore it, breathed it. After breakfast I put on long pants, down jacket, neck scarf, bandana over nose & mouth, & a stocking cap. Gritting my teeth I reluctantly faced the world.

During the night my "island" had become a part of the mainland leaving my kayak stranded 150' from the water. I packed up. With a heave-ho I hauled my kayak down to the water, then trudged back to my camp, wind howling all around me, sand obscuring my vision.
Back I go, my pack on my shoulder, a bag clutched in my hand, stumbling through the loose drifting sand.
Halfway back I noticed my kayak [80 lbs & 17' long] bouncing through the air along the beach. Stupefied I watch it turn four or five somersaults. Then I decided that I had better stop it before it lands in the river and floats down stream. I dropped the pack and took off after that boat like it was my life, which it nearly was. To be stuck in that desolate country with that wind would be a little like death itself.
About 100 ft from my pack & about 10 ft from where my kayak would have landed in the river I tackled my flying boat. Laying across it I looked for damage. None was evident. In fact the only effect bouncing along for 70 ft was that one stringer came out of two rubber grippers & all the sand (which was considerable) was knocked out.
Well I finally got the boat packed & launched. The river is not very interesting here, for most of the time all that can be seen is artificial banks which keep the river in one channel [levees1] and some half obscured mountains on the California side. I saw one Canadian Goose. As the wind was northerly & there was a fair current I didn't need to paddle at all, but I did some.
My experiences for the day were not over. Coming into Needles, my mail stop, I missed the entrance to the marina and had to pull into a last chance bayous on the down river end of town. The only problem was that the entrance was blocked by a great large sand bar.
I hauled the boat across the dry sand & into the channel which was about 2 inches deep. I hauled & hauled [from the shore], breaking the bow painter. But always the boat came up on shore & stopped. Finally I took off my boots, rolled up my pants and grabbed the remains of the bow painter. Gritting my teeth (which is easy to do with a mouth full of sand) I splashed through the freezing cold water for about 100' hauling the kayak behind me.
Finally I arrived in deep water. My feet had no feeling as I climbed into the boat & paddled into Needles. I didn't reach the marina as I had hoped, but I got close enough to a motel were I checked in.

  1. Did I really not know this word or was I talking down to a non-boating audience? return
  2. I'm surprised I didn't mention a Mom & Pop Cafe on the water front were I had a still memorable fried chicken dinner with deep dish apple pie. return

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edited by Peter J Wait, 9/14/00 9:47:24 AM