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Throwing money at the problem: my kayak investment plans for 2017

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.

12 thoughts on “Throwing money at the problem: my kayak investment plans for 2017

  1. Catherine, if you haven’t already, you must go kayaking on Canada’s British Columbian coastline with its fijords. Better yet, live in Metro Vancouver or on the Gulf Islands. 🙂 There you go, your retirement spot? 😉

    People kayak often in False Creek and Burrard Inlet in downtown Vancouver, in Indian Arm from Deep Cove, in North Vancouver. Our condo building has bike cage storage….and kayak cage storage. 🙂 Annual dragonboat races in Vancouver BC….are in downtown Vancouver near the Telus Science Centre.

    Olympic Village Community Centre and False Creek Community Centre have kayak docks (latter is on Granville Island). You need to explore more West Coast Canada.

    It is suggested you form a dragonboard race team and get yourselves out to Vancouver.

    1. Jean– oh yes! It is a dream/plan of mine to come and paddle off the coast of BC! I haven’t been to Vancouver yet, but really want to visit. And kayaking may provide the perfect excuse. Watch out, I may be headed your way sooner than later… 🙂

      1. Please feel free to ask me any questions. I’m not a kayaker, but I lived, biked and worked in Vancouver for 8 yrs. I still go a 2nd home.

  2. When I decided I wanted to be able to run my own back country canoe adventures without needing the help of those way more butch than me, I bought a Kevlar and carbon fiber canoe. Don’t regret it for a second.

    1. Thanks, Susan, for the encouragement. It makes a huge difference, having the equipment. I xc skied yesterday for 1.5 hours with friends after our first real snowfall here because I have my own equipment. It’s time to just get the boat!

  3. I just made the plunge into skate skiing. I have long thought it looked wicked fun as I watched skate skiers zoom by me like dancers as I stood still in comparison in the classic cross country ski tracks. While less pricey than a sea kayak, I still viewed it as a too expensive selfish purchase in the context of my family obligations. This year I finally took the plunge. Motivation came in several forms.

    The first being my aging body and feeling like if it wasn’t now that I acted on this desire, it would never be. Balance goes as you age and injuries that naturally occur with taking on new sports can be more serious for the decrepit body. So I had to act this winter or perhaps give up the dream.

    Then there is this awesome snowy winter we are already having. There will be plenty of days this winter to get the hang of it. Last winter they would have gotten dusty standing in a corner. Not so this year.

    Yes I could do as you say and rent at a ski center, paying the day pass, etc., until I was 100% sure it was the sport for me. But That gets pricey quick and I am sure the frugal New Englander in me would not have invested enough that way to truly Find out. I hadn’t so far. So I bought used with the exception of the poles (couldn’t find used so bought on sale.) The person at the ski shop said to pay as much as you could afford for skis because the return on investment is worth it. I figured I could resell high end used probably at the same price as I bought for them if it turned out not to be a good match for me.

    I went out for the first time today on town groomed trails. I did the first loop using my old waxless classic skis (which were slow and probably need replacing after 20+ years.) I then nervously put on the skate skis and did another loop. Wow what fun! Quite the workout too so I had to stop several times (okay like a 100). But I am sure I looked like a dancer from Swan lake! (Not!). And so fast. It was probably good that my classic skis are so tired that my unskilled efforts on the skate skis still made it seem like I was flying. So glad I took the leap. I will put in the effort to get better. I am nervous about learning to wax and removing wax, etc., but am inspired after feeling the breeze on my face to overcome what hurdles may be.

    1. Rebecca– congrats on the skate skiing! I tried it once, and haven’t had the chance to get back to it (no real snow last winter), so we’ll see what happens this year. Sounds like you are well on your way to graceful swanlike moves! And fast, too– I envy the skaters flying along. Enjoy!

  4. I am only a casual kayaker, but I’ve seen some storage solutions that involved suspension from a ceiling. Worth throwing in the possibility mix.

    1. HI Liz– I know you do. And we’ll be talking about a boat that will protect me and be the right companion for me on the (hopefully not too high) seas. Looking forward to paddling together some this year!

  5. I loved my kayak and years paddling in and around Long Island Sound and waterways. Recommend it to everyone. Alas no ocean waters in New Mexico where I now reside.

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