Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Big Blue 'Yak


I have been wanting to get out on the water for years.

For a brief time I had a boat I was trying to restore:



That's a half-truth - I had two of them!


And honestly, if I had room at our new downsized house, I would have brought another one home by now. But they got swept away in the great depression, and that is how life goes sometimes.

Meanwhile, we've had a rubber raft for years which we have taken out to paddle around many times. It's fun, but it's not comfortable to use. It paddles hard and slow, but it has been fine. Still, I've had my eye on getting a nice kayak for a long time. Particularly a [particular brand that will remain unnamed] fishing kayak. They are supposed to be wide and stable, and really well designed. I've been keeping my eye on them for many years. So I was excited to actually find out the local kayak shop was having their free paddle weekend at the lake (I usually find out about it after it's over!) On that Saturday morning I headed on down to Vancouver Lake bright and early to check it out.


Dave was at rehearsal, so I was on my own. Since I'm kind of shy, I just sort of walked up and down the beach, peeking at this and that and listening in on other people's convos. I found a guy at the end talking a lot about fishing, he was the Jackson Kayak rep. I'd never heard of Jackson. He went through his whole schpeal and was moving on to another couple who had question when I thought I'd pipe up and ask some questions about their big tandem fishing kayak. He happily set me up, handed me a paddle and launched me off on my own to try it out.



I was immediately amazed at how confident I felt in it. My last kayak experience, when we'd rented kayaks on Lake River a couple years ago, had been scary, the kayak felt wobbly, and the current was working against us, and I had a miserable time. But this kayak was stable, and smooth, and I was jammin along in no time, paddling around the lake all by myself. I was in love!


I got back to shore and asked him how much they were, and he said $1800, and I immediately gave up any hope of having one. Why do they have to be so expensive?! My last car cost that much!

I wandered on down the beach and watched some water rescue demonstrations and took a short 'How to paddle' class, and eventually wandered back to the beach and found they had brought out a couple [unnamed brand I'd been pining for for years]! After all this time I finally had a chance to try one out!!

I waited in line for my turn to try on the [unnamed brand] pedal kayak (you sit up high and sit back and pedal like a bike), and I wobbled out to the lake, steering by way of a rudder, and...I HATED it! All this time I'd been waiting to try an [unnamed brand], and it was just not my thing. I pedaled it back to shore quickly and was relieved to get off it without dumping myself in the water!

I meandered around a bit more, and found another brand of fishing kayak that looked interesting - Eddyline. The sit-on-tops looked sleek and stable, and had all the goodies, including what looked like comfortable seats (one of my biggest complaints about the raft was that discomfort always forced us to call it a day quicker than I wanted to). So I took one of those for a spin.

It was ok, I liked it fine, but I didn't feel super stable,. The guy manning the Eddyline booth was really helpful and directed me to another Eddyline sit-on-top to try out and I took it for a spin. It was better. I paddled it around a bit and considered if we were to get a kayak, would it be better to get a tandem (big and heavy), or two singles (lighter, but more expensive overall). Was it better to get a sit-on-top, or a sit-inside?

I brought it back in and went down to Jackson again. That Jackson Kilroy DT sure had paddled nice, and comfortable, and was adjustable to be tandem or single. It had a flat deck so you could even stand up in it. It was basically the Cadillac of fishing kayaks, and if you can only have one...

So I told Dave the bad news, and he said 'you know, if you really want one, you can afford it, just make sure we'll use it'! I did some research (I'd never heard of Jackson, and now that [unnamed brand] was off my list, I had some catching up to do). By mid-week I was down at Alder Creek Canoe and Kayak on my lunch break asking what they had in stock, how much was it, if I wanted one how long would it take to get it, and the end result was that by that weekend:



We were the proud owners of a beautiful Jackson Kilroy DT in the only color they had available - but it is actually the color I liked best anyway - black and blue! Since that bad boy weighs almost 100 lbs, I bit the bullet and went with the Thule Hullivator for the Flex. The Hullivator tips down along the side of the truck to load the kayak on, and then lifts back up into place with gas struts to help you lift it (though it is still VERY heavy), which makes loading the beast easier. What a pair, don't you think?

We took it to Horseshoe Lake in Woodland for our initial paddle.






Paddlin' and Fishin'! It's so comfortable!






And back at home, it sits neatly on top of the Mustang. It's 14ft long, which means it is as long as the Mustang!



We've taken it out three more times, each time to Lacamas Lake, which is much closer to home than Woodland (though I really like Horseshoe Lake, so I'm sure we'll be back there again). The first time there was a church group of paddlers there, and we paddled quite a ways down the lake with them, then stopped to fish for a while.




Another day we took it out and hung out on the end of the lake near the bridge to Round Lake, and watched other paddlers sneaking under the bridge. We'll wait for the water to go down a bit more before we try it!

Today we hung out on that end fishing for a bit, and then paddled over to the first pond full of water lillies, which had yellow blooms all over them. I fished there for a while, casting between the lilly pads and retrieving my lures, then my Rapala fish lure got stuck on a lilly pad! I told Dave 'paddle over there so I can get it back, do you know how much those things cost?!' so he paddled over there the whole time chiding me that all these lilly pads looked alike and there was no way I would find it. He paddled me over to where I said and there it was laying right on top of the leaf it had caught on :D Dave was amazed!

So that's my new toy - I finally got my boat! It's fun and comfortable and easy to paddle, and relaxing, and yet still good exercise. I'm really glad we finally took the plunge and got it. I think this is something we will be enjoying for a long time, taking on trips with our Airstream to try out new lakes farther from home, and generally exploring and fishing.






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