Le Cap

First light.  Time to check the sea state from the office window.   The Mediterranean is glass.  Quick.  I’m going.

Ten minutes later, parked, getting stuff out of the car.   The little store getting restocked, smell of croissants and baguettes, maybe later.   Get paddle, back support, waterproof bag.  Air still, water like glass.

Unlock kayak, get it down on the beach, get ready.  Walk into cool, clear, still water – off.

Warming up, each stroke better.   Looking down in the crystalline water.  Maybe 12, maybe 15 meters deep.  Sand bottom, rocks, see weed, small dark fish.  

No sun yet.   Hiding behind the coastal hill, some rays coming through the pine trees on top of the hill.   Air is cool.

Getting close to the first headland.  The swell hitting the rocks creates motion.  Just enough to see the sea weed swaying.   Sea anemones looking back at me, but that’s just me dreaming.  

Pines, oak trees, scrubs, Mediterranean maquis, all transitioning into the deep red brown rock of the Var coastline, and the dark Mediterranean sea waiting for the sunlight to bring out that turquoise.   

Moving well now.  Good rhythm.  Could do this forever.  Left paddle entering the water, pull, follow through, right paddle entering the water (no noise please), pull, follow through.  Glide, glide, glide.

My favourite beach now on my left side.   A small bay, maybe more of a cove.  Rocks to the left, open sand beach in the center, rock face shading the right side.  I’ll be back on my return.   A few morning bathers walking towards the beach along the coastal paths.   They’ll be swimming by the time I come back.   Good to have company, swimming alone is not my thing.

Ahead, steep rock sides coming straight down to the sea.  No sun.  Stark light, and dark colours.  And dark water, surprisingly so.  Eerie.  But it’s early, and the sun is still young.

Looking ahead, looking for life.   Saw a sea turtle here a few weeks ago.   Is she back today?   No, but something else big is looking for breakfast.   Schools of tiny fish being chased out of the water, trying to escape a sea bass, maybe a sea bream?   The little fish stay only for a moment in the relative safety of the air, then return to the dark waters a moment closer to the end of their short lives.

The coast line is wild, untouched, forbidding.  No place to stop even with a kayak.   The cliff face nearly vertical into the sea with only a few dwarf marine fir trees clinging on.  Now getting into the long stretch towards Le Cap.  Technique is important now.  Keep the rhythm.  Maybe take it up a notch.   The sea is still, but there is a hint of a breeze building.   Will the return be upwind?

I can see the Le Cap now.  Stark, dark red brown rock washed clean by the sea water.   And this small rock some ten meters off the tip.   Menacing, but the perfect point to turn around.   The swell is stronger here.  Coming all the way from North Africa.   Maybe there is a storm further out.  Or there was one.   

Getting close to Le Cap.   Anticipating that look around the “corner” towards the next beautiful Cap, and those famous beaches.   Another world around that corner.  Someone else’s paradise.   Mine is here.   

At le Cap now.   Turning around the rock, going between the rock and the Le Cap.  A moment of concentration.  The swell and the rocks challenging my kayak.   Today is good.  Quiet. An extra pull on the paddle.  And then off, back towards home.   

The light is different.   The sun is up, the cliff face lit up by the rising sun.   The breeze is up – sometimes on my left side, sometimes in my face.   Early sea breeze.   The glide has become bobbing in the Mediterranean chop.   I’m warm now, good challenge.   Satisfying. Go fast.  The beach and the swim are waiting.

One headland, one more, and one more.   Then turn right towards the beach.   Nearly empty, but not deserted.  Perfect.   The kayak makes a satisfying crunching sound as it hits the beach.  I pull it up a bit, t-shirt off, into the water for a swim across the bay.   The water tastes of salt and summer.   Cool, not cold.   I look down towards the sea bottom.  Breathe, swim, savour this moment in paradise.

Walking out of the water, feeling heavy after the lightness of the water.   Kayak back in the water, home stretch.   Coffee and fresh croissants waiting.   Time to pull hard, sprint hard, get the heart rate up.   This is where my son would show his old man who was the boss.  Losing to your son is the best feeling a father can have.

Back at my launch point.   More life now.   The first tourists are walking the beach.  Guillaume and his gang at the sailing club are getting the boats ready for the day.  

The day has lost its virginity, but I have said hello to my Cap and am ready to enjoy family and friends and share the magic of the Mediterranean with them.   Good food, good conversation. Sun, light, wind.  No super yacht needed.  Le Cap is there for everybody.

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