One man's rush to jump on the kayaking bandwagon


Heath and I paddled a little under 12 miles today. We brought lunch and made steady progress. We didn't intend to go that far, but just as we were about to turn around, we decided to head up an inlet we had never visited before. If we had a map and could see how big it was, we wouldn't have bothered. As with most trips of any length, coming back was directly into the strongest wind of the day.
tags: lake

April 28, 2007

East Coast Canoe & Kayak Festival

Heath's uncle needed help with his website and Heath suggested we drive down to Charleston for a long weekend. The weekend we were available just happened to coincide with the East Coast Canoe & Kayak Festival. When we mentioned there would be kayaking of sorts, Jean decided to meet us in Charleston.
I didn't really know much about the festival before we arrived Saturday morning. None of the sessions appealed to me. I wasn't really interested in a new boat. I was mainly just interested in a seeing new gear.
As we walked around the lake, Jean was yet again struck with the obvious fact that she needs a new kayak. She was impressed by one of the new Riot designs. I was 12 feet long, had a skeg, a rod holder, large cockpit opening and both front and rear bulkheads. She thought the Nigel Foster Legend would be a good boat for me. I have to agree. It looks very nice.
I was more impressed with seeing a glass Tsunami 140. It just feels like a completely different boat than mine. It feels much more solid. It was also considerably lighter.
One boat I wanted to see was the NDK Greenlander Pro. After seeing it, I wasn't all that impressed. It looked crude. The seat looked like some kind of torture device. I didn't even bother trying to see how it fit. I could tell by looking, I couldn't fit my ass in that thing.
I couldn't help but get a sense of just how small a world kayaking is. I kept seeing people that I recognized from kayak magazines and websites. Everyone also seemed to know everyone else.
I witnessed an interesting example of kayaking culture clash. A relatively un-athletic looking woman was demoing some kind of Hobie SOT kayak when she flipped over. Another kayaker saw her fall out and turned and paddled over, his Greenland paddle moving furiously and his gray ponytail flopping back and forth. He stowed his paddle under the deckline, grabbed her boat in such a ways as to steady it. He them began encouraging her to re-enter the boat. She wanted nothing to do with it, stood up and walked the 15 feet to shore. As she was climbing up the bank, he finally let go of her boat and paddled off. The whole incident just seemed totally absurd.
Jean picked up a few small things and an NRS paddle bag. I should have demoed at least a couple of boats, but I didn't want to have my first experience in a real kayak to be in front of a bunch of pro's. Yes, I know. Who cares.
tags: gear, travel

April 22, 2007

Is everyone's first time in a kayak a miserable experience?

It wasn't fair to the sport of kayaking. I shouldn't have introduced someone to kayaking on a colder than normal day that started with struggling to get the boats on the roof of the car and ended with racing an approaching thunderstorm.
I've know Pat for years. He's hardly an outdoors type, but he's always willing to have me drag him along on some random hike or other outdoor activity. (He no doubt thinks that if I can do it, then it can't be too bad.)
The day started out as most kayaking days do -- Why did I get an Element? Why is this car so damn tall? Why do I always have to load it from the downhill end? He was a good sport and ignored all the four letter words and general frustration from getting the kayaks on the car. When we got to the lake, he was still upbeat and ready to go. He was in Heath's Dirigo and I was in my Tsunami. He didn't have any problems getting in the boat, but wasn't all that excited when I told him he'd have to talk off his tennis shoes and wade in so he wouldn't ground the boat on the rocks. The water was still pretty cold.
As we headed away from the boat ramp and under the bridge, we caught the full force of the approaching thunderstorm head on. I debated turning around, but we had already come this far and it wasn't that bad yet. Pat seemed fairly comfortable in his kayak. He just couldn't seem to get the hang of paddling. It was obvious that he was putting out a lot of unnecessary effort. He asked, "Should I be getting this wet?" We should have turned around then, but I decided to just keep going as we were getting close to a section of the lake that would be shielded from the wind.
When we got there, he admitted that something just wasn't working. I gave him my paddle (I'm not sure how Heath uses hers) and made few suggestions. He said that it felt a lot more comfortable.
The temperature started to drop, the wind picked up, we started hearing thunder. We decided to head back to the boat ramp. We paddled with a strong wind at our backs and made fairly good time.
Back at the house, Pat admitted that he didn't share my new love of kayaking. I don't blame him. Today sucked.
tags: lake

April 07, 2007