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It's All In the Legs

It was mid-summer of 2006, and I had planned my most ambitious coastal outing yet. It was to be a 140 mile 5 day solo outing beginning with a launch from Rockport, Maine. My itinerary was to include Vinalhaven, Isle Au Haut, Deer Isle, Castine and Islesboro. This was to be a serious sea kayaker's Nirvana. Late evening of my first day out, along Vinalhaven's ocean side coast, I spotted a very small relatively flat island. It appeared to be sitting suitably a foot or two above the high water line. I set up camp and since it was forecast to be a fair night, decided the tent would not be necessary.

A bit of backstory before we continue:

I am a bilateral above-knee double amputee. I suffered the loss of both legs from an experimental airplane crash in 1986. While in the rehab hospital for the better part of a year, I resolved that whatever I was left with, the Good Lord and I were going to carry on in full enjoyment of life - regardless. 10 years ago my young brother Paul, suggested we look into sea kayaking. Since we often visited my folks in Newcastle, Maine, it sounded like an exciting challenge. The first time out - man was I hooked! This alternate form of immensely enjoyable mobility was more than what any doctor could have prescribed.

Now, back to the small Maine island...

Preparing for sleep, I removed both my full length leg prosthesis (still in the kayak pants), I left them leaning amid-ship of my kayak. It had been an exhilarating yet strenuous 10 hours of paddling. Sleeping under the stars with a refreshing salty atmosphere, light sea breeze and gentle rhythmic and hypnotic wave action quickly led to a deep dream-like heavenly slumber. Just at dawns early light, I was awakened by the sound of a lobster boat horn. Several lobster boats had stopped with great curiosity to investigate a rather uncommon sight. It was low tide and there - like a mini Noah's Ark, was a solitary sea kayak perched about 12 feet above the sea on a sharply peaked mini island. Against the kayak was what must have seemed like one half of a lifeless body! No wonder it had attracted their attention!

The lobster-men had broken their busy routine to investigate and try to make sense of it all. Startled from my peaceful deep slumber from their boat horn, the alive upper half of me sat up out of my sleeping bag, I flashed them a thumbs up. They shouted out several questions - was I OK? Did I require any assistance? What were my intentions? I responded "all is well, thanks for your concern and in about 6 hours (when high tide reoccurred) I plan on casting off with no problem!" I observed a few shaking heads as these kind hearted but hopefully less bewildered lobster-men pressed on with their runs.


Written by: Bob Yarmey


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