Monday, May 29, 2017

Everything you need to know about kayaking -- not

Hundreds of kayaking blogs and Web sites...

A textbook example of  NorCal Yak's First Law
…offer useful instructions and insights to help paddlers hone their skills. This particular post is not among them. Instead, as we launch another prime paddling season, a few random thoughts, serious and otherwise.  Here goes: 

1.  NorCal Yak's First Law states that you know your limit just as soon as you've paddled past it. This applies on and off the water, from sandbars to dive bars and everything in between. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, they say. Bull hockey – it just makes you lucky for once. That's why you should never exceed your personal speed limit in the thought process, even if that keeps you in the slow lane most of the time. 

2.  If you are about to land your kayak at a spot crowded with other paddlers, or if people are just sitting around on a beach, rest for a moment some distance out. You may feel ready to die from a long, hard, painful paddle, but never show it. Catch your breath, wipe
the sweat off your face, grin broadly and then glide into shore with the grace of a Baryshnikov or Pavlova. Casually observe the admiring glances. You’ll know you’ve nailed it when you overhear some landlubber say, “Looks like fun, we really ought to try kayaking.”

That wilting sensation signals a valley summer
3.  If you reside in the Central Valley or other environs where the summer forecast typically calls for Hell with a chance of brimstone showers, never leave a plastic kayak atop your vehicle for longer than absolutely necessary, especially in direct sunlight. It may soften some plastic yaks to the point that they will “oil can” – a term that means the hull will deform and prompt other paddlers to torment you with Viagra jokes.

4.  Conversely, it’s fine to keep the kayak on the car rack when a major rainstorm approaches. This accomplishes two things: First, it washes mud or dust off the boat for you. Second, it really impresses people who believe you are going kayaking in a terrible storm, so you must be a real hotshot paddler. (Remember to use a cockpit cover lest the kayak fill with storm water and drench you when you unload it, if the car roof doesn't collapse first.)

"Nah, no way the mud could really be that deep..." (Photo by Tom Gomes)
5.  When landing in an unfamiliar spot that might be mushy, test with your paddle before you step out of the kayak. If you can easily push the paddle down to the point where you can no longer see the blade, retreat to another landing spot. Still waters may run deep, but mud can go a lot deeper. 

It’s going to be a fine paddling season, so enjoy, but let's be careful out there. As W.C. Fields said, “You can't trust water: Even a straight stick turns crooked in it.”    

© Glenn Brank 2017