Cruising the Coastal Waters

The Children of the Sea
The long-distance cruising kayaks that we are so familiar with began to make their appearance in large numbers upon the West Coast of North America around the year 1985.

 
Seemingly overnight, ocean kayaking centers began to spring up and increasing numbers of cruising kayaks were to be seen in and about the bays and estuaries of the West Coast of the United States and Canada. These touring boats were much larger than their brothers of the river, being usually fifteen to twenty feet in length and capable of carrying one, two or even three people with adequate supplies over long distances in safety and relative comfort.
 
By 2002, hundreds of men and women were observed cruising the coastal waters between Alaska and the Sea of Cortez. In the summer of the year 2003, U.S. Coast Guard spotters in Northern California observed seven hundred kayaks pass Point Reyes headed South. The emergence of these Sea Gypsies, as described by the media of the day, can be explained in part by the Crash of 02, which drove a failing economy over the edge and sent untold millions to the streets and to the woods in search of work, food and personal freedom.
 
For a lot of people on the coast at this time, the initial step off onto the sea seemed most natural. For a minimal initial investment, they found essentially unlimited freedom. With a well outfitted ocean kayak they were tied to neither gas station, welfare office or complex industrial technology.
 
At first the small boats were almost unnoticed upon the bays and inlets of Washington, British Columbia and California; mostly they belonged to day trippers out for a frolic in the sun. But, as their numbers grew, the more adventuresome began to take to the unprotected waters of the coasts, intent upon duplicating and expanding upon the adventures of those early, near legendary cruisers like Romer, Lindemann, Caffyn, Dyson, Gillet and many others too numerous to mention.
 
Eventually some hearty souls began to actually live on the water, travelling the coastal shoals, obtaining their protein from the ocean as well as the coastal forests and the remainder of their nutritional needs from the new seaside gardens.
 
By 2003 there would be observed isolated camp fires burning far into the night upon the more remote beaches of the Western coast of the Americas. And seated around these fires would be the most diverse group of individuals ever assembled outside of a war. Mountain trekkers, river runners, campers and back-country specialists of many kinds, gold miners from Alaska, taxi drivers and Dead Heads from San Francisco, poverty stricken musicians, aerobic instructors, hod carriers, college professors, NASA scientists and unemployed computer programmers, brought together by their love of the ocean, kayaking and the quest for personal freedom.
 
Reminiscent of the mountain men of the previous century, these citizens wore suits of rubber instead of leather and had adopted ocean waves and swells instead of mountain ridges or desolate prairies as their roaming grounds. The original voyagers were usually loners and not terribly young, most having reached at least thirty years of age with many in their forties, and more than a few in their fifties as well. But within a few years entire families began to organize and travel, gathering each morning upon the beach beneath vibrantly colored flags denoting clan.
 
One might wonder how these unemployed gypsies found money to pay for their essential needs, such as solar batteries, fish hooks and expensive boats. It is known that here again the government of the day unwittingly came to the rescue. After the Crash of '02', the Federal Government, ever alert to potential revolution, undertook to break up pockets of the severest poverty by offering travel money and relocation grants to the unemployed and the destitute.
 
An individual without work or money would be offered a $1,000 one time grant to travel on to another, less depressed location in hopes of finding suitable work; similarly, an individual with a permanent address was eligible to file for a low interest relocation loan which would give him or her up to five thousand dollars with which to relocate to a more economically active area.
 
With this government money, a neophyte adventurer could purchase a perfectly fine seventeen foot ocean cruising kayak with separate bulkheads and a surface composed of fourth-generation solar cells with which to power his stereo, GPS unit or VHF transceiver. Many options were available.
 
Within the extended cruising family clan, citizen anthropologists have been able to isolate six specific levels of archetypal entities. First we have what we might call the simple Thirty-Day-Adventurer or tourist. These people usually traveled in a group under the watchful eye of a professional guide and the mere prospect of sleeping on the ground was viewed as an exotic event.
 
Over a period of years and thousands of combined miles of travel, a series of catch words, phrases, metaphors and analogies were built up between Coasters, creating a unifying mythos most generally referred to presently as Tales from the Children of The Sea. Sometimes these were true stories; sometimes they were magic lessons designed to educate those seated around the place of fire. Sometimes they were just meant to humor and to entertain. These creations were shared in so many different ways, in so many different places that today one can no longer separate the imaginative fabrication from the kernel of truth. Some say that all the tales spoken and later recorded concerning The Children of The Sea were utter lies.
 
These are the people who would have us believe that no group was ever that free. Others disagree and believe that the intuitive mind of these perimeter men and women had somehow managed to tap into nothing less than the true story of human kind; of how it was, and how it will be again.

Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7)
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