One Inch Above the Water, by author Jim Payne

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(Jimís account of his trip on the Connecticut River August 26-September 27, 2009)

A Voyage

Down the Friendly Connecticut

I slid the kayak into the waters of the Connecticut River at Canaan, Vermont, a village so close to Canadaís Quebec Province that you overhear French spoken in the local restaurant. My destination was the town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, which lay on Long Island Sound, 373 river miles, and four weeks, away. For years Iíd dreamt of making this solo trip through the historic heart of New England, meeting its people and exploring its towns and culture.

†The first miles gave me a relaxed paddle through the rural solitude of the far north, my only challenge being to dodge the low-hanging branches of the tree canopy that overarched this rather narrow river. There was surprisingly little water moving down the channel, and it occurred to me that if the banks happened to broaden, the river could become quite shallow. But I had a childlike faith that if God has gone to the trouble of making a river, He makes it deep enough to be navigable by a kayak drawing three and a half inches of water.

At first, my confidence in this Divine plan was vindicated. When the river grew wider, I watched with concern as the bottom rose up and my paddle tips began to strike rocks, but each time, the kayak glided smoothly over all, the river narrowed again and the water deepened reassuringly. Then, several miles above Lyman Falls Dam, I received a rude joltóliterally. Small rapids loomed ahead, I built up speed to gain maneuverability, and thud! I was aground against a rock and the current was twisting the boat sideways. I leapt out into the knee-high water, wrestled the kayak past the rock and clambered back into the boat. A few yards further, I grounded again, and then again. Even though I was trying to follow the path of the deepest, strongest current, I could not pass.

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