I finally got on the water this weekend, about 90 minutes on Lake Johanna, a lake about 4 minutes from my front door. Distracting events are now in the past and the kayak focus can begin. I paddled about 45 minutes and then did the three rolls recommended in the Justine Curvengen collaboration with Turner and Cheri, 'This is the Roll'. Great dvd and I need to review that along with the three piece Northern Lights Greenland stick I picked up at Canoecopia. I hit all three, even after a perfect record of chlorine avoidance all winter, but immediately went to the storm roll section of the dvd when I got home to see why my storm roll was so creaky. Now I get it. The item of more immediate concern than roll technique however, is the Midwest Mountaineering boat demo on Thursday night, precursor to the Outdoor Expo and boat auction this weekend.
One of the clubs I belong to, SKOAC, has traditionally furnished safety boaters at this event. I have a couple friends that are looking for new boats and this is the perfect spot to test paddle those boats. This year an early spring has the water is a bit warmer as evidenced by my lack of an ice cream headache on Johanna Sunday. The forecast is sunny and 55F, which should be perfect. In the past we have had downpours, hurricane winds, and temps that were 'colder than a well diggers ass' as my grandpa would say. This year would seem to be the perfect time to try out some boats.
The old adage that we sit in a canoe and wear a kayak is very true. A paddler needs to'try on' as many as they can so you don't wind up with that 'irregular shirt' syndrome where everything looks OK but just doesn't feel right when you put it on. In kayak selection as in other endeavors, size matters. At 6'4" and 225#'s I don't fit in a lot of boats. The reverse is true as well. Attempting to put a 5'5", 105# friend in my old CD Storm was when this concept first struck me. She was swimming in that thing and it seemed like the paddle barely reached the water. It has to feel good and you have to be able to paddle efficiently. There are lots of folks at this demo with lots of knowledge, both MM staff and the factory reps from a number of companies. It's always good advice to stay well clear of Kelly Blades of course.....
One of the traditions of the SKOAC safety boaters is the swim bet. Beers to the person who guesses the number of demo participants that go for a swim. Given potential weather and wind conditions, I hereby set the official over/under at three. The three will inevitably a person who tells me, 'Oh, I know what I'm doing', a person that paddles straight past the safety cordon and then goes over when I insist that they turn around and come back, and one person testing the initial and secondary stability of the boat they are demo'ing. In any case they all get a nice swim, some years nicer than others. The majority of people will be paddling with big smiles on their face and with any luck Midwest will move a couple boats and a few more folks will join the paddling fraternity.