Sunday, October 24, 2010

Almost Around Great Britain in 90 Minutes

Marcus narrating his circumnavigation of Great Britain
With Skegness, on the East Coast of Great Britain, as his starting and ending point, fellow Sebago Canoe Club member Marcus Demuth  circumnavigated Great Britain in 80 days. At his recent travelogue presentation at the Manhattan Kayak Company, however, he was only able to make it as far as Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, in his 90-minute program.

When I arrived at Pier 66 on Manhattan’s west side overlooking the Hudson, with 30 minutes remaining untill show time, Marcus and a friend or two were assembled in the classroom shared by the Manhattan Kayak Company and Hudson River Community Sailing.  Still setting up a laptop–projector link, the slides and map projected on the screen were all washed out, with hardly any color at all, while on the laptop screen they were in full color. Not good. After trying to adjust the settings to correct the problem the images were not only still washed out but also upside down, and no one was able to correct this. Really not good!

Marcus located a wrench and disconnected the projector from the ceiling, turning the projector over and setting it on a table. Now the images were right side up. Better. But the images were still washed out. Still not good.

Moments before show time, another Sebago Canoe Club member, Control Geek John walks into the classroom, works a little techie magic, and restores full color to the projected images.   Very Good!

Before his presentation, Marcus handed out a fourteen multiple-choice question quiz about Great Britain and kayaking. He promised that the quizzes would be collected, scored, and the three people with the highest scores would receive prizes.

The actual travelogue began with Marcus recounting the initial idea and desire to circumnavigate Great Britain. With photos and narrative, he then took us to the English factory building his boat. Since his boat was not ready for the trip, however, he ended up paddling a different kayak rather than the one he ordered.

With stories of amazingly friendly people, total strangers offering him tea; unknowingly finding himself paddling amidst off shore artillery firing ranges and camping behind a target; and meeting some of the Welsh Lifesaving Service men who decades ago saved his father from drowning, Marcus held the attention of the approximate fifty people in attendance.

This was the third time I have heard Marcus talk about one of his trips. He has a way of artistically blending technical kayaking information with tidbits about the people, culture, and ecology of where he paddles. In addition, his German accent tends to woo listeners in, inviting them to listen more carefully to his sometimes broken English. Never seeming to take himself too seriously, Marcus readily admits the mistakes he has made in planning or execution. Regardless of those errors, however, on this trip , uncharacteristically favorable winds and the longer daylight of more northern latitudes, combined with Marcus’s experience and endurance, resulted in a record setting circumnavigation.

Ninety minutes after he started his presentation, Marcus was able to narrate his circumnavigation only as far as Lindisfarne, or Holy Island. With time running out, he ended his travelogue and promised to talk about the rest of his trip another time.

Before the small crowd left, Marcus announced the winners of the pre-presentation quiz. Fellow Sebago Canoe Club member Dennis had the third highest score, winning a box of English Breakfast Tea. A man two rows of chairs behind me had the second highest score and won a Sigg metal lunch box. (Drum roll please) I ended up having the highest score, missing only three of the fourteen multiple-choice questions, winning a Sigg Thermo Bottle valued at $34.99.

I attribute my winning score to my Liberal Arts Education, nine years of kayaking experience, and having travelled twice to Scotland.


PeaceWorks said...

Hi from South Carolina! I just wanted to thank you for listing my blog Peaceworks under your listings for blogs on peace and social justice (!

Your photos remind me of my days growing up in Florida, where I canoed, sailed, and swam my way through childhood, never realizing how unique and precious that opportunity was! :-D Here's to protection and stewardship of our earth and environment -- in my lingo, peace with the environment!

John Edward Harris said...

You are welcome, Xan. May we all be better stewards of the planet entrusted to our care rather than threatening death to it.