We need an evening of enthusiasm and fascination. That’s what our presenter, Jennifer Hahn will bring you. Fascinating isn’t overstating, this unusual gal kayaked solo from Ketchikan to Bellingham writing an award winning book on her adventure, Spirited Waters Soloing South Through the Inside Passage. (read an excerpt below) From sleeping on islands because of ‘bearanoia’ to munching along the way on natural plants and seaweeds about which she’s an expert and teaches, she has engaging tales to tell and information to share.
I interviewed Jennifer for Nor’Westing Magazine in 2001 and her enthusiasm and creative ways of viewing life stood out in my mind. She lives and teaches in Bellingham, and now, with ZOOM meetings, it’s realistic for her to speak to us. Her signature of my copy of her book included a hand-drawn sea otter, she’s an artist, too. She spoke on one of our Women’s Inspirational Panels at the Seattle Boat Show. She’ll amaze you, make you laugh and you, too, won’t forget her.
Questions: Email email@example.com
Excerpt from Spirited Waters Soloing South Through the Inside Passage
“One of my most hair-raising experiences was when I was leaving Ketchikan, Alaska and aiming my bow for Bellingham. There had already been two storms that had come in and stymied me. There was another storm coming in but not for 24 to 36 hours, and, I thought, if I don’t go now I’m going to chicken out. So I bolted out of Ketchikan and paddled 26 miles to a small island I hoped was bearless. The next morning I got up and turned on the weather radio and heard, (amidst crackling static,) ‘45 knot winds…Dickson Entrance.’ I looked out and it was silver smooth and I thought, storm shmorm it’s gonna hit sometime later but it’s not gonna hit this morning, I’ll just go six miles down the coast.
I thought, I’ll be careful and cautious and stay along the coast, except Dickson Entrance is not your normal coast; it’s wide open to the Pacific. I was crossing a channel soon after called Boca de Quadra. It is 2 ½ miles across and I got hit by the storm in the middle of it.
Out in the middle of this channel a long ways from land, I remember hearing this voice (when you’re alone you have intuitive voices that, for me, shout sometimes.) This one shouted, ‘Pick up the binoculars and look at the horizon!’ I thought, Good Gravy! This voice was like the navigator in me. I feel like there are several people in the boat with me sometimes and one is the navigator. She keeps me on course and holds me to task. She’s checking how fast my hair’s lifting, you know, is it a 5-knot wind is it a 10-knot wind? My hair is used like those little streamers on a sailboat.
I picked up my binoculars. You learn to go up and down in the swell and get a gestalt when you’re up on top of the swell, hold it, and come back down into the trough, and go back up again and reconfirm what you see in binoculars without getting sick. If it’s not too rough, you can do it real quick. This time the edge of the horizon was toothed like a bow saw. I’d never seen a horizon that rough in binoculars. Where I was, it was just small little humps of waves. I thought, that is one heck of a storm coming at me; that is the 45-knot winds they were talking about. I thought, do I keep going or do I turn around? I didn’t know where to go back to, so I thought, Ill try to make it. I tried and pushed myself and the waves got bigger and bigger. Soon they were three foot, and then they were four foot and they were breaking over the bow and breaking over me. Finally, one hit me and went over my head into my jacket, down into my kayak. I did a 180 at the top of the next wave and just surfed nearly out of control for a good period of time. I was so scared I wanted to cry and my navigator just shouted, ‘Don’t you cry or you’re gonna fog your eyeballs, you need to see every wave that’s coming behind ya!!’ I was watching out of my periphery vision to see the waves that were coming behind so that I could be in the right position to brace or role.”