In 2015 I spent more time kayaking with friends. I started venturing into the ocean and discovered (unsurprisingly) that sea kayaking is a whole different world, requiring not only skills I didn’t have, but skills I didn’t even know about. My first foray into open ocean (with waves and currents and big rocks to maneuver around) was a real eye-opener. It was, frankly, scary to me. But after some time, I came to enjoy—even revel in—the incredible beauty of an ocean environment. While still being a bit scared, I admit.
In 2016, I did some kayaking here and there, and then took the plunge (literally—man, is the water in Maine cold!) by doing a weekend intensive sea kayaking course with Maine Island Kayak (and of course my friend Janet). That course did two things for me:
1) It made abundantly clear how much I DON’T know about sea kayaking, like understanding tidal current, wave and weather effects. Oh, and navigation. And being actually comfortable and roughly in control of my boat bobbing around in the ocean.
2) It gave me a clear plan if I do want to develop my sea kayaking skills. I need to learn to roll a kayak, get comfortable in the boat under a variety of conditions, do lots of practicing of all sorts of techniques, and above all: log more time in a kayak on the water. This means I really need to buy my own sea kayak. Sure, you can rent them, but it limits you in where you can put in, or you have to transport it somewhere else and return it, etc. Streamlining the process of doing a sport makes that sport more doable.
So, for 2017, I’m investing some time and money on the following:
Rolling classes: I’m taking some indoor pool rolling classes with Kevin at Rock Paddle Surf Kayak in Salem. Last year I did one rolling class. And in the fine tradition of 2016 sports lessons, I learned how much effort and time it’s going to take for me to learn to roll (namely, a LOT). So this year I signed up for a series of 3 classes. I may have a partial roll by then, but certainly it will help move me forward.
Another weekend intensive: Janet and I are going to do the 3-day East Coast Paddlesports Symposium near Charleston in April. This is the perfect venue for me. The water will be warm, I can rent a boat and necessary gear easily, and it offers a big variety of on and off-water courses for a bunch of levels. This means Janet can go off and learn to fight sharks with her paddle while I work on rolling and other handling techniques in warm (did I mention the water is warm there?) water and under adult supervision. I learned so much from 3 days of intensive instruction last year that it’s worth some time and money to do it again this year. And likely I’ll go back to Maine for more kayak instruction and paddling in lovely Casco Bay (even though the water is cold…)
Possible/likely/uh… sea kayak purchase: I’ve been hemming and hawing for a year about buying my own sea kayak, but this is probably the year to do it. Kayaks are like bicycles: you can spend a little money ($700ish) or a lot of money ($5000+). I haven’t figured out what my entry-level boat will be like, but I will be asking around and trying out different ones. Kayaks are also like bikes in that you buy an entry-level one, and then can trade up. Or out—like bikes, kayaks come in multiple designs for multiple purposes: touring, surfing, fishing, etc.
Unlike bikes, though, a kayak cannot be stored in my (non-walk-in) basement, because it will be at least 15 feet long. So I have to leave it outside or talk a friend into storing it at their house. Not all the details have been worked out yet, but the process is moving along.
It’s a bit daunting, diving headlong into a new or different sport. I’ve been toying with sea kayaking for a while now. I guess it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.
Readers, what experiences have you had with deciding to plunge in (or not) and devoting some time and money to a sport or activity? Was it hard? Was it easy? I’d love to hear from you.