While it is currently 10 degrees outside, and the snow is knee-high, Logan and I can’t help but reflect on warmer times and our amazing summer. Here’s a look back at last spring, when the snow was gone, and we took our newly purchased kayaks on their maiden voyage…
It was late April, the ice was out, we had our gear, and it was 70+ degrees outside.
Let’s do this!
Our neighbor saw us loading the boats and sauntered over to let us know that the water was currently exactly 33.2 degrees. Thanks Wayne, we know… In fact, all afternoon people gave us strange looks making us think we were either crazy or committing some hideous boating faux pas, but screw that. You gotta take advantage of every minute of sunshine in Minnesota, even if it means the water is 33.2 degrees.
It took us an hour and ten minutes to load the boats, stopping only twice to verify our technique by watching YouTube tutorials, and once of course to talk to Wayne. We quickly discovered that we should probably invest the time to learn how to tie a few standard nautical knots, as sailors we are ‘knot.’ (There’s some terrible boat humor for you.)
We wore our wetsuit bottoms because we really had no idea what to expect. Would it be super easy to tip over? Would there be a lot of splashing from the paddles? How deep would we have to wade in before we could climb in the kayak? Neither of us particularly wanted to die from hypothermia on what should otherwise be a lovely spring day.
Finally dressed, properly sun-screened, and gear loaded, we were ready to depart.
We drove at a snail’s pace the literal one mile to our closest beach, holding our breath around every corner. Though we were confident we strapped the kayaks down appropriately, one couldn’t help but envision the boats crashing down off the roof of the car should we take a corner too aggressively. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. At Gervais Lake, the parking lot, beach, and park were relatively empty and unloading the boats was a breeze.
From that moment on, honestly, it was smooth sailing! We could easily board the kayaks in only a few inches of water, there was minimal splashing, and we both felt very steady. Even with some experimental rocking we both still felt very secure. It didn’t take long to find a nice paddling rhythm and we set forth to explore the lake shore. Logan moved significantly faster, leaving me feeling a bit frustrated. But whether that’s because Logan is stronger, has a longer boat than mine, or that I am just inexperienced and out of shape has yet to be seen (but I suspect a combination of it all).
So what’s the verdict!?
Kayaking was just as delightful as we anticipated it would be. It was silent, peaceful, and mostly effortless. We found the boats extremely maneuverable, easy to handle, and comfortable. Truthfully, the least graceful part of the experience was me trying to get out of the kayak when we were back to shore. With arms and legs flailing over the side of the boat, I realized I could definitely benefit from introducing some squats into my daily routine. This was the only time of the day I felt close to face-planting in mere inches of water.
Overall, we paddled for a little over an hour and wisely decided not to overdo it; after all, we still had to get the boats back on the car again. While our arms and shoulders felt a bit like jelly, it only took us 20 minutes to load the boats, which gave me more hope for the future after-work convenience of this sport. No one drowned. No one was injured. No one even fell out of their boat. With this first trip successfully under our belts, we anticipated a summer full of paddling!