After days of relentless paddling, over 7 to 8 hours a day, all that I have had to hang on to is the reward of land some day when and where I was never sure. Each day a mind game, just to overcome a sterile visual cocoon, nothing around you but water, glare and ever-changing conditions, most of the time not knowing where you are going, just blindly travelling in an electronic educed directional trance.
The pain, I can’t explain the waves of it that one has to endure sitting in a kayak. The beginning of a stint is always fine, but then the lower back starts to throb, just as you have sorted that out and then you get “dead leg” as the blood flow is restricted. The worming around in the cockpit starts and so does the fraying of patience and temperament as nothing seems to help. I remember at one stage I just wanted to capsize that I could get out and stretch my legs in the water.
The worst is just counting down the hours, no way of working out how long you have to go for the day or how far you have come or you must still do, just water moving about, not a single landmark just the sun rolling up and over, the higher you get the hotter it gets.
Then in the distance the horizon suddenly changes into this dark jagged edge, gone are the cotton wool lining of clouds that has been my only visual reference that has been playing with my mind as they evolve in to every shape imaginable. Land, finally, land. The mystical Madagascar is finally climbing out of the sea, framed in tropical storms it slowly gracefully stretches out in its splendour.
I feel a similar core of emotion rising within me, such a relief after the nearly 2 weeks at sea, weeks of fear laced with pain and exhaustion, just to be able to step out onto that island, a challenge that has mentally challenged me more that anything to date.