VERMILION — Traci Lynn Martin left Marblehead at 9:42 a.m. Friday morning in her kayak.
Traci Lynn Martin paddles into shore on Main Street Beach in Vermilion on Friday afternoon. Martin is working on paddling 8,600 miles of shoreline within the five Great Lakes during the next 265 days.
KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE Enlarge
She arrived in Vermilion at 6:20 p.m. the same day.
She paddled 25.69 miles in the choppy waters of Lake Erie in one day.
By day’s end, the experienced and competitive kayaker was tired.
Martin, who was escorted to shore by the Vermilion Marine Patrol, was in high spirits when her feet hit dry land.
“I think I’m going to go to bed,” Martin said as she exited her kayak with the help of her friend Bill Noble.
Martin, who was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis, is attempting to set a new world record in paddling a surf ski along the shores of the five Great Lakes. Her adventure began March 9, and she already has kayaked around lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan. After Lake Erie, she plans to travel around the shores of Lake Ontario before heading toward the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
According to Guinness World Records, the longest solo journey by a surf ski is by Gerhard Moolman of South Africa. Moolman covered 3,822 miles between Hout Bay, South Africa, and Lamu, Kenya, in 2002.
So far, Martin has paddled 3,217 miles. She has about 5,383 miles left in her voyage.
But why is Martin traveling nearly 8,600 miles in 265 days?
For her, the answer is simple.
“I am trying to inspire other people with chronic health conditions that their life is precious and valuable, and they can still find the strength to get up and do the things that they love,” Martin said on her GoFundMe page.
But, on Thursday, Martin contemplated ending her trek through the Great Lakes. Her medical condition was making her question getting back onto the water.
“My head still hurts, my body hurts, my hands hurt and I’m exhausted beyond words,” she wrote on her personal Facebook page. “I feel a sadness that I have not felt since the beginning of this expedition … it comes with the hard realization that I won’t finish the two smaller Lakes.”
Aside from the 8,600-mile goal, Martin set a daily goal of 30-mile paddles.
“A part of my brain is telling me it’s time to go home, another part is telling me that I still have 5 percent more to give,” she said.
A chilly Friday morning had her second-guessing the journey, but she shrugged off the bad vibes and set forth in her kayak.
By the time she arrived in Vermilion, a number of fellow kayakers were on the beach to greet Martin with open arms, including Mary Holoski, who coordinated Martin’s stay in town.
“Vermilion is a kayak-friendly area,” Holoski said.
Holoski has been following Martin’s journey since March via social media. When she heard she’d be in the Vermilion area, she extended an invitation for her to spend the night at a local bed and breakfast.
Rita Young, owner of the Captain Gilchrist Guesthouse Bed and Breakfast, offered Martin a free room for the night, Holoski said.
By 6:30 p.m. Friday, Martin was looking forward to escaping the cold air and 2- to 4-foot waves.
“I was not scared today, except for the last 25 minutes,” Martin said as she walked up the beach in Vermilion.
About 5:30 p.m., the wind was blowing in at nearly 18 mph with the water temperature at 61 degrees, said Vermilion Port Authority operations manager Bill Yancer.
“The police boat was with her to make it safe for her, but she is very experienced,” Yancer said.
Martin plans on taking Saturday off to recuperate, and perhaps make a day-trip to Cedar Point.
To follow Martin on her journey, visit www.justaroundthepointe.com.