First paddle of the season

It’s 80 degrees out, and so Rob and I snuck out from work at lunch time and went for a paddle. We didn’t go too far, just up past the weir. But it was lovely. The weir was in full flow, and we had an audience of people who were hiking down a trail in Ellison Park who stopped to watch. So we had to make it, and it was touch and go for a while there – Rob didn’t line up with the outflow at all, so when he hit the V it of course dragged him immediately across and he banged into one of the uprights on the weir. I lined up and paddled with short fast strokes and made it up, but almost buried one side of the cockpit when I did it. Rob watched what I did and copied it successfully.

My kayak was sitting on the floor of the garage all winter because one day in the fall I took it down to try to install a decal on it, and was too lazy to put it back up. Consequently there was a neat little row of bird seed along the foot peg rails when I lifted it onto the roof rack. And I can’t seem to get the backing paper off the decal without removing the vinyl, either.

Along the way, there were a lot of pairs of Canada Geese out, mostly with the female hidden down in the weeds and the male at the edge of the free-flowing water making threatening noises and gestures as we paddled by. At one point, there was a single goose in some flotsam with his whole head and neck down on the surface of the water. At first I thought he was dead, but he turned to watch me was I paddled past. I’ve never seen that before. There were also lots of turtles, and a couple of male redwing blackbirds. The water was clear and fast and VERY cold.

Lifting my kayak and Rob’s kayak on and off the roof racks, I started wondering what it would cost to trade up to a lighter kayak. There are things I love about my kayak, and a couple of things I don’t love, but the only thing I hate is that is weighs around 70 pounds. I was talking to one of the salesmen at Bay Creek, and he says they don’t make the Skerry in fibreglas any more except as a special order. But they have the ‘glas Pintail, which is pretty similar but a little lower volume. Since I’m unlikely to be camping in the kayak, that might do. Given the price difference between what I could reasonably expect to sell the Skerry for and this, it might be doable after a few more weeks of overtime. If I don’t die from the stress first.

For the record, what I love about my Skerray:

  • Handles beautifully. With the skeg up, I can spin it, with the skeg down I can track straight in a quartering breeze.
  • Fast and responsive. It rewards your effort.
  • The snug fitting cockpit gives you tons of control – the kayak feels like an extension of you.
  • Looks nice. The grey colour isn’t harsh or glaring.

Things that I don’t hate, but don’t love about my Skerray:

  • The cockpit. While it’s nice that my thighs go naturally into the thigh braces and the sides of the seat press into my hips to snug me in, it’s a right bitch getting into and out of the boat. I haven’t tried a wet exit yet, and I’m a little worried how hard it would be. They have two Pintails at Bay Creek, and one of them has a keyhole cockpit – if it means easier ingress and egress without giving up the snug feel, I’m all for that.
  • The skeg sometimes makes an sloshing sound as it hits the sides of the skeg box when I’m paddling hard with it down. It sounds like somebody sneaking up behind me until I realize what it is.
  • I don’t know if it’s the seat or the way I’m sitting, but my legs go numb after an hour in the boat. I read that some people put a rolled up towel under their knees to help that, but with the snugness of my cockpit I don’t want another impediment to getting out in a hurry. Somebody at Bay Creek today said to try rolling my butt forward a bit to take pressure off the sciatic nerve. I’ll try that next time.