Last summer, when I came home from a vacation on the beach, I seemed to be seeing the lake by my house for the first time. We hadn’t bought the house because it was so close to the lake; we’d bought it for a lot of other reasons. That it was a quarter mile from the water struck me then for the first time.
I promised myself, if my tax return would allow it I’d get a boat and get on the water. I like fishing anyway, and this would be a great way to make sure I got out there and did it. (Nothing else can get me up at dawn.) My first idea was a canoe, but eventually I settled on a kayak.
Today was my first day on the water with my kayak. Here’s a photo (it currently lives in my screen porch, but I’ll fix that).
This “yak” is built for stability–good for an absent-minded person like me. But for that reason it’s on the heavy side (76 pounds). When I found out you could get wheels that fit under the kayak through the scupper holes, I decided I had a solution. I live a quarter mile from the water. I can roll it to the lake and back.
So today was a test run. I didn’t try to fish. My goal was to get down to the river, launch the kayak, paddle my way to open water (the “lake” as they call it here), and then reverse course.
I hit several snags and hurdles. Did I mention that my house is a quarter mile straight uphill from the river? It wasn’t easy even getting the kayak down the hill. (I don’t have a real path, just a mowed edge along some railroad tie steps. Part of this is precipitous.)
Once down the hill, I made my way to the approved boat launching spot (some more railroad tie steps going down to the water). Here I had to detach the wheels and carry the craft to the water. Let me fast forward through the part where I paddled up and down the river both ways and couldn’t find a way through to the main artery, got the hull stuck on sand more than once, got stuck on a tree laid across the river, and came to a dead end at some rapids. After an hour, I was back at the boat launch reattaching the wheels.
But I wasn’t done. I refused to give up without getting to the lake. So I walked the river path, kayak in tow, until I found a less official launching spot beyond the tree obstruction. Here, after getting wheels caught in what I can only expect will turn out to have been thick poison ivy vines, I managed to get off the sand and into … beautiful … deep … open … water.
I paddled into a cove. Turtles dove off a tree stump lodged in the water. An egret flew directly overhead, perched on a tree, then crossed back over my head. Some terns fluttered under a bridge. I came out under the bridge and to the main artery, around a bend. Motor boats came by. Two men in a canoe, old fellows who said it was “quiet out there today.” A fishing boat.
I played around with the gear out there, tried the paddle settings, tried to stop dripping onto my legs, messed with the seat.
I even made it back to the launch spot without a mishap, through the poison ivy, and back on concrete.
Going up the hill was better than a StairMaster. I felt every one of those 76 pounds. But I made it.
And I hosed off the boat and wheels, my shoes, etc. Total time, 2 hours.
Next time, I expect to take one of my young boys out with me (the boat’s sturdy enough). And after that, maybe as soon as next week, fishing gear will be involved.