When it was suggested that we might like to write about our hobbies or pastimes, I looked out the window at the yellow tip of my kayak peeking up through the layers of snow. That little bit of yellow reminded me that, in a few short months, the snow would be gone, and I’d be donning my life jacket and baseball cap and heading for the water.
My husband and I have been kayakers since the mid nineties. At that time, we lived in an area with wonderful old rivers that meandered through woodlands and fields. Our kayaks were made for river travel rather than ocean trips, no rudder.
But the day my husband dragged me to the riverside site for a test drive, I had no interest, whatsoever, in the sport. I almost backed out when I saw how you had to get into the things.
I wasn’t smiling as I followed the instructions. First, I sat on the float beside the kayak. Then, I put the paddle behind me, half on the float and half on the back of the kayak. Finally, I reached back, put my hands on the paddle and pushed down to lift myself into the kayak. Whew! Not easy. I was no lightweight.
By this time, I was ready to kill my grinning husband and vowed never to try this again.
It may have taken five minutes, certainly not more than fifteen, before I stopped mumbling to myself and looked around. I’ve always loved being in or on the water and sitting in the kayak that day gave me a mixture of both. It’s hard to describe the sensation. I was in the water, surrounded by it at hip level, but dry. I dipped my paddle into the water and began to glide along, floating at water height as if I were a duck.
The paddles let me direct the path of the kayak anywhere I wanted to go. I loved it. When we went home that day, we had two of everything: kayaks, paddles, life jackets, and miscellaneous gear.
During that spring and summer we explored the large river near our home and its tributaries. The tiny, winding tributaries were the most fun. You could never be sure what you’d find around the next bend. Though we tried not to disturb the wildlife, we couldn’t hide the noise of our paddles. We’d often hear loud plops as turtles would abandon their sunny perches to get away from us. Ducks, geese and great blue herons would usually take off at our approach, but sometimes, they’d stay and we’d watch. In the quiet, we’d hear the distant voices of other marsh birds.
One time, we came across spikes along the shore that looked like sharp pencil tops. A beaver had been busy cutting down trees. A few minutes later, we came upon the beaver’s lodge and the dam he’d built. We didn’t get too close, but the workmanship was awesome. Since we couldn’t pass over the dam, we turned to paddle back and realized we weren’t alone. Across the river, following our every move, swam a large, brown beaver. We’d trespassed into his territory and he didn’t like it.
After seeing what his teeth could do to a large tree, we stayed far away from the little builder and hastened to leave his domain.
A few years after that, we moved nearer the coast. At first, we thought we’d have to buy ocean-going kayaks, but that didn’t happen. We soon found that paddling along the coast, in the harbor and around some of the closer islands could be just as much fun.
We loved cruising in close to the beautiful homes along the waterfront. We loved the excitement when the harbor was busy with every type of vessel from kayak to yacht. We loved getting up close to the sleek yachts, when they were moored. We loved riding their waves when they were not. We loved the feel of the salt spray that splashed us from those waves. We also loved to bring our lunch and cruise to different beaches where we swim, ate, and enjoyed the day.
One of the first things we did after purchasing the kayaks was to take a few lessons. Safety is important. We never go out without our vests. Life vests also come in handy if you don’t feel like swimming but just want to float around. We also make sure to stay outside of boating channels. Little kayaks are difficult to see in the water. That’s one of the reasons we chose bright colors.
Paul and I started out kayaking for the fun of it, but are very grateful for the side benefits we’ve received. Kayaking does wonders for your health–fresh air, sun and exercise. Oh yes, and once we paid for the kayaks, we found our exciting and healthy outings didn’t cost us a thing.
We still have our original kayaks and have never once regretted the purchase. If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Have you got a favorite kayaking experience? i’d love to hear it.