It’s a perfect cloudless morning on Ft. Lauderdale beach, where the ocean color is still as coral blue as anywhere. With a mere one-foot shore chop, launching the Cambridge will be easy. My wife offers a bottle of water, always looking out for me, which I thank her for and shove off. I head north in the shallows a few miles, enjoying the crystal clear view below, catching glimpses of coral and rock formations and a few reef fish now and then.
Since the first warm up mile, the heart rate monitor tells me I?m maintaining a steady 146, about 8 clicks above the recommended rate for my age. But this is normal for me when I offshore row as compared to gym work. The sights, the salt smell, the sunshine, the blue water. The rush of catching a wave and gliding 100 feet on a stroke. It?s hard to hold back.
Offshore the sport fish yachts are at their game, and the lure to investigate pulls me eastward. In salt water the Cambridge easily does 30 feet per stroke, due to the increased buoyancy of salt water. As the hotels lining the beach get smaller, the watercolor turns from vivid blue to deep blue to almost purple blue. This is fine fishing water. I?m about 5 miles offshore as I approach a 65-foot Striker just deploying his fishing kite. Named the Southside, the skipper lets me know we?re not quite in the Gulf Stream, and the fishing?s good. They released a Sailfish earlier, and thought they?d try to raise a shark for the pleasure of the guest on board. I take up vigil to starboard. While well to the side of the Southside, I hadn?t realized the tenacious live bait they had set out had apparently seen me afloat, and to a little fish in the middle of a big ocean, anything afloat is a refuge. Before I new it, a 6-foot hammerhead goes on the attack 30 feet from me. He is all over the live bait, which is racing straight towards me for cover. The hunt is intense, right off my oar tip! The mate on board sets the hook, and another hunt begins as the reel screams its song that a fish is on! What a show.
A bit further offshore the birds are pounding the surface, so I nod a thanks to the skipper for a great front row seat, and pull away. I may have made it to the Stream because the sea swell grew to 4-5 feet or so, and very wide. So wide I couldn’t get any great surfing because the faces were so flat.
With a bit of the adrenaline subsiding, I began to remember I was a tiny boat in a big sea, that sort of half-fear, half-humility that the sea can so easily bestow its guests. Time to head in. The trip is amazingly fast with the ocean swells at my stern.
Just before leaving the deep blue, a sailfish takes to the air behind me. She free-jumps twice, perhaps to get a look at the Cambridge, a strange fast Creature out playing in her back yard. For me, it?s a? your welcome? from a great God who has once again showed me a brush-stroke of His marvelous creation.
Thank you, my King.
Please remember always bring safety gear, and fill your craft with air bags, for any offshore or near shore rowing.
by B. Larson
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