29 May 2012

When the journey matters more than the destination

From Tsunami Rangers site:

"To mosey is not to become oblivious to the reality of kayaking on the exposed open coast, but rather to be deeply present and aware by not always following the map, the plan or the objective. Sharing this way of being on the water is one of the elixirs, the absinthe of the Tsunami tribe but can be part of any sea kayaking journey by anyone, anytime."

ex Cap_30

That pretty much sums up my view on travelling on the sea (or land, by human power).
There is a marked contrast between the destination being the objective or the journey itself being the focal point. When you want the journey to never end, when rushing does not seem right; when the highlight of the day were those beautiful waves crashing into the rocky point or the encounter with a whale then you know that the journey means more than the destination.
If the little islands with white sandy beaches and the pretty lagoons or the deep sea caves with the surging swell lure you more than the results on your GPS then you might value the journey more than the destination.


My most memorable trips are not the ones that were run under strict schedule or plan but those that just evolved as the days went by. My favorite way of planning trips is where enough research goes into delivering a relatively safe environment but not a rigid schedule or itinerary. I still laugh at the prospect of some paddlers mapping their journey at home on their GPS by "breadcrumbing" the waypoints with such accuracy that a warning beep will tell them that they are off-course, by mere yards.
My ideal plan is where I look at a map and I see a lot of potential along an interesting coastline that might deliver a rugged environment.

Manolo Pastoriza's
Photo: Manolo Pastoriza _used with permission
Since I am not one for large crossings that will see me off the visual security of landmarks, I probably would get bored with endless pushing of the paddle with a compass or GPS as my only stimulation.
I also like the unknown, the discovery. I often feel that there is not enough interesting coast line in my area that would make sea kayak travel mysterious enough. I wish I lived along an unpopulated rocky coast with endless islands to explore where I could spend weeks covering just a short distance.


I envy my Swedish friend's backyard archipelagos although I don't covet his country's climate. Just like my other passions; mountain biking and backpacking, for me the sea kayak journey has to involve fun and play time.
When I was heavily involved in mountain biking, occasionally people would ask me: how many miles did you ride this week end? (knowing I just came back from a mtb safari) “Only 8 this time” was my reply. But little they knew that those 8 miles where very intense. They involved crawling over improbable boulders with friends spotting me to save me in a wipe-out on a radical move. We would spend hours trying to "solve the problem", not unlike in bouldering.

creek crossing

The same reason why now sometimes I am just happy to go rolling my kayak in the sea, covering only a few hundred yards that morning.
For me it has never been about speed  (well, driving 200 Km an hour on the Italian or German Autobahn not counting) or distance. I have never owned a road bike, never participated in a ski race and never took up running. My style is usually slow and bumpy where skills are more important than muscles, where the fun factor always wins.


  1. Really nice post, congratulations!!! I agree!!!

  2. I agree. The log book has a field that is "kilometers paddled" and more than once I just filled "NA" when all I did was rolling or surfing or playing in the rocks. The only problem is that after a few enties on "NA" my fitness level goes down :-)

  3. Hey Gnarlydog, Tess Dodd forwarded your blog post to me. Thanks for the shout out to the Tsunami site. Your philosophy jives with my own. When I read about "breadcrumbing" I had to laugh. People actually do that??? Oh, well, I guess it takes all kinds. Happy paddling:)

    1. Nancy, I was there when I heard this beeping coming from one of the kayaks in the group. I asked what was going on and he told me: "We are off course by 50 meters (yards), we should go back to our planned route". I am not kidding you. As you said: it takes all kinds :-)

  4. How beautiful and inspiring. I think this is my favourite post of all time. You keep out-doing yourself. Please excuse me while I wipe the tears from my eyes.

    Cheers from Canada!

    1. BP, I felt that this post was going to be a bit "weak"; not my usual style of writing (do I have a style?). Now it surprises me that readers actually like a bit of a mix, not just always technical stuff...

  5. Its hard to argue with your post or the pictures!!! Paddling over rocks on the surge, poking into caves and other such explorations is the kayak equivalent to the saying "stop to smell the coffee". I do turn on my GPS but only to log the days paddle. I carry it in my PFD but rarely take it out for navigational purposes.

    Great shot of that airborne kayak.

    Tony :-)

  6. The pic from Manolo Pastoriza is amazing cool!! and I'm so agree with you.:))

    Take care U:))

  7. Hey Gnarly, isn't kayak surfing about speed to a certain degree? Isn't it the rush of flying down waves, the spray kicking up as the nose buries itself into the water in front of you as your kayak doubles or triples its normal pace? I love my ski but not for racing, just for surfing. But it's the speed of the surf that is exhilarating! :)

    1. Absolutely!
      If kayak surfing ain't fun, what is it?
      Never used a GPS or compass for surfing yet, and even less "plotted" a route for the intended trip.
      I can imagine a ski must be absolutely exhilarating when careering down a long wave.


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