Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Winnie got me hooked on kayaking ten years ago when she bought me a kayak on my 55th birthday. Since then, I’ve mixed power boating with kayaking as my warm weather water sports. I’ve also added two inflatable kayaks to my fleet. But almost all my kayaking has been a solitary activity. Until this year.
This spring, Winnie announced she wanted to go kayaking with me. So for this season we’ve been kayaking together and having a lot of fun.
The Start – Practicing
Winnie is very precise about learning something new. She focuses on each step of learning a new skill. Unlike me, as I tend to just “jump into the deep end of the pool” and figure out what I’m doing as I go along…
We currently own three kayaks;
- A twelve-foot Sea Eagle 370 inflatable (“Nemo“) intended as a tandem (two-person) boat.
- A ten foot Sea Eagle 330 inflatable (“Lucky“) best suited as a one-person boat.
- A ten and a half foot Trophy 126 hardshell kayak (“Arrau“), a one-person multi-purpose fishing and recreational boat.
So our first kayaking trip together was in our tandem Sea Eagle 370 inflatable “Nemo“, in early March. We paddled up and back down the Bull Run River, launching from the marina by Yates Ford Road Bridge. On this stretch of river, it’s possible to paddle about four and one-half miles upriver before hitting some mildly fast water – too fast to paddle against. This happens to be my favorite area for local kayaking.
We had an enjoyable paddle on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon making the full nine-mile round-trip. An omen of good things to come. This was also the first paddle I’d done in two years, as last summer was spent staying safer at home avoiding the great zombie apocalypse.
The following Saturday we were back out at Bull Run River marina, again with our trusty kayak “Nemo.” Winnie had watched me inflate and setup the boat the previous week, and this time she insisted on doing the setup. As the previous week, we launched from the floating pier at Winnie’s insistence. Normally, when I’m kayaking by myself I launch from the shore even though I get my feet wet. Winnie insisted on keeping our feet dry as the water was still pretty cold. So I had to practice a pier-side kayak entry which takes a bit more skill than I can normally muster up.
But with Winnie’s assistance, I managed to get in and out of the boat fairly gracefully. Winnie is a lot more flexible and had no problems.
First Solo Paddle
On this second trip, Winnie spent more time actually paddling and by the time we finished our nine-mile round trip we’d managed to coordinate paddle strokes fairly well. We pulled back to the pier and I left Winnie there while I hiked to the parking lot and retrieved my Jeep. When I returned to the pier I discovered she had slipped back into the boat and was paddling around out on the river – her first solo.
Winnie spent a bit of time paddling around before returning to the pier. I thought she looked pretty good out on the water and told her so. Then she announced that next week she wanted to take out two boats.
A Double Paddle
The following weekend, Easter Sunday, Winnie and I were back out on the Bull Run River. Winnie got to use the Trophy 126, a very stable boat and easy to paddle, while I took my Sea Eagle 330.
We arrived the marina, unloaded the Jeep, and setup both kayaks. I moved the Jeep to a parking space and by the time I returned to the pier Winnie was already in her kayak, paddling around on the river. She looked for all the world like she’d been kayaking for years.
We had a very pleasant paddle that Sunday. The turtles were out by the dozens, all sunning themselves and catching some rays after a long miserable winter. We didn’t go upriver very far as I didn’t want to push Winnie too much. My normal paddle is up and back for a nine-mile workout, but for this day we only went about two miles up.
A Not-Good Landing
We returned back to the pier after our leisurely paddle and then had a bit of adventure. Winnie was in the lead and pulled her boat up to the edge of the pier. I passed her, pulled up alongside the pier in front of her and laid my paddle down when I heard a loud “SPLASH.” I twisted around and saw Winnie hanging onto the edge of the pier in waist deep water, her boat floating away.
I called out to her to not try and climb out, but to walk out holding the edge of the pier. Then I realized I had drifted away from the pier, with my paddle still back on pier. I used my hands to splash myself back to the pier to grab my paddle. By now Winnie’s boat was out in the middle of the river floating merrily downstream. Winnie was still walking out of the water, clinging to the side of the pier, loudly talking Chinese.
A passing fisherman in a motorboat snagged Winnie’s kayak and held it until I was able to paddle out and catch up. I thanked him, tied the boat off to mine, and made my way back to the pier. By now Winnie was standing on the end of the pier waiting for me, soaked from her waist down. Not happy. She was a real trooper though and helped load everything back into the Jeep.
So went our Easter Sunday kayak trip.
Second Trip For Two
I wasn’t sure if Winnie was gong to be scared/embarrassed off any more kayaking. We couldn’t get back out for a couple of weeks due to weather, but the next nice Saturday Winnie was bugging me to go back out. So, we went back to the scene of her previous trip’s misadventure. Once again, Winnie had the Trophy 126 and I had the Sea Eagle 330.
As before, I let Winnie lead. On this trip we made the entire nine-mile Bull Run River trip, up to the fast water barrier and back down. We stopped along the river a couple of times to rest and to just hang out. I could see Winnie was really enjoying herself. Once again, the turtles were out in force sunning themselves, giving Winnie lots of photo opportunities.
This time, getting out at the pier was not an “adventure.” She handled herself quite well, climbing out and staying dry. I was a bit stiff from the long trip and decided to make my more normal beach exit, vice trying to climb back out on the pier. I walked down the pier and could see Winnie was in her groove for kayaking.
A Summer’s Worth of Paddling
We’ve made a lot more kayak trips this season. Besides the Bull Run River, we went out into Powell’s Creek and along the shoreline of Leesylvania Park one weekend. We ‘ve also pioneered rigging and launching the Sea Eagle 370 from our Bayliner 175BR “Sea Dragon.” This has opened up all kinds of new adventures in motoring to a bay along the Potomac, anchoring out, then kayaking around.
Having Winnie along has made kayaking much more fun. She forces me to slow down and hang out some, as opposed to my solo kayaking style of paddling as a rigorous workout. Besides kayaking from our Bayliner, we’ve also done one evening paddle and I hope to do a few more.
So this season we’re making up for last summer’s lack of summertime activities. Here’s hoping we’ll do many more kayaking trips before winter shuts us back inside the house.