One man's rush to jump on the kayaking bandwagon

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