I always carry a spare paddle when I go out for a day, a week or an hour of kayaking. So far I have not needed to pull it free of the bungee cords behind my seat and hope never to be in that dire situation of a busted/lost paddle. Last week was the first time in months that I was able to get on the water for consecutive days. A couple hours each evening after work to relax, chill out and decompress from life on land. The conditions in the Channel were the same each evening. Calm at first glance but by mid-paddle the south easterly winds picked up and gave me a taste of Mother Nature’s resistance training as I worked against the rush of incoming tide and a strong head wind. Most would grumble, complain at this fate but I relish it as the first part of the evening was with all of the above in my favour. I believe there must be Balance in everything, even dinnertime paddle session.
As I worked my body and in doing so managed to calm my mind during the extra kilometer-and-a-bit it requires to paddle one more mile for Glickman (in Canada we have to do the metric conversion). A ‘OMMFG’ sticker starkly appears on my spare paddle. An encouragement and inspiration campaign that sprung up for Joe Glickman, writer and paddler who at the time was dealing with cancer of the pancreas. That extra bit of paddling that I have been doing in his honour had some unknown but substantial unworldly meaning on this particular paddle session. Because while I paddled onwards with a face full of warm May wind swirling up the waves Joe had passed away.
The outpouring of love and affection towards him in recent days on social media is testament to the man and his quality. I sadly, had not had the opportunity to meet with him in person. My connection with Joe was only in emails discussions about writing and kayaking. This began by happen chance as someone directed Joe to my review of his book Fearless, chronicling endurance kayaker Freya Hoffmeister’s unsupported solo trip around Australia. Out of the blue I was contacted by Joe and a conversation grew. It didn’t take long in those short notes back and forth for his humour and true character to shine through as we chatted about his bucket list idea of paddling around Vancouver Island. I gave him as much intel as I had about my part of the world and of course the local backyard waters of the Southern Gulf Islands. I joked that the beers were on me when I would join him for the section of kayaking from Victoria through the Gulf Islands and as far north up the east side of the island as I dared go.
We never met, we never had a chance to share a few days on the water enjoying a common passion. I feel the loss even though he and I we only acquainted ever so briefly over the interweb. This sensation only elevated by the sharing of memories on Facebook by all that had encountered him on and off the water. I can only hope to live in such a way that when my last paddle comes up that I too had managed to touch so many in a positive manner.
So Joe, where ever you may be paddling right now, I hope there is a good sea side pub. Have a pint on me. I will pick up the tab at a much later date.