Jul 16, 2007

Black Brady Beach, LOPEZ ISLAND – Frank Sherwood sneaks up on his wife and fellow primitive skills instructor, Karen, as she briefs the coastal foraging class. He dumps an object into her hand, upturned mid-gesture. She gasps and chucks it.

A jittering white invertebrate limb, severed, waves from the pebbles.

Ryan squats and balances it on his knee, studies this three-inch object dispassionately, then hands the thing to Quinn.

As a vegetarian, I generally avoid corpses. OK, sure, dead critters are part of life's great cycle. But nothing I need to eat or fondle. And so, later, I step over the pink bulb of skull – a seal's probably – further along the cove. Six inches of spinal cord still jut from its nape, like an inverted question mark. ¿Que pasa?'

But Sergio, a firefighter from the O.C., lofts it in the air and flaps it like a puppet. Alas, poor Yorick...

Karen, beside me on the cliff, notes: "We try to balance education and aspiration, but allow time to wander around and pick up stuff on the beach."

And not just the littoral strand, it emerges. Rahul – a British Columbian doctor and life coach – has brought his handmade kayak.

Oh, man, I want...

My long-ago ex Matt Hagen crafted wooden kayaks, because he couldn't pack in enough risk as a photojournalist, rappelling off I-5 with clothesline under sniper fire and such. These beauties were the first I ever paddled – all silken seduction on Lake Union, where I was nearly scalped by a floatplane and run over by a seven-story UW research vessel bound for blue water. Events like this tend to crystallize around Matt, who went off boat-building somewhat, after capsizing, dislocating his shoulder and almost drowning near Alki, while kayak-surfing in a gale.

(Rumor claims he's staggering a wine marathon with his lovely wife Betsey next, but I digress.)

Rahul's craft was born in a calmer environment. Up on Vancouver Island, his buddy instructs people how to stretch fabric over a cedar frame, then shellac it watertight.

"It's tippy," he warns.

"Bet it's not worse than a flatwater racing model," I grin. My last P-I assignment has left me tough, TOUGH, I say. Who else flipped twice in three minutes? Go on, show me that hard woman...

I paddle into the bay. Rahul's kayak is a sweet number, sure. Responsive as a thoroughbred and with a fluid gait.

Yes. Yes, I really could endure one of these.

Let it bear me on its back a thousand times...

Check out the full seaweed-foraging story and shots in the The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on August 23, 2007.


  1. waterbabe1:56 AM

    Dive gear before kayak, young lady.


  2. Debt payment before Action Barbie kit, I'm afraid.