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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

A Lemon Goes a Paddling!

 It's been a year since I first sat in a kayak. It's been about 11 months since I bought my first kayak. I'll try not to bore you with too many details, but here's what I've learned and the stories that go along with the lessons learned.

I began by calling my friend who I knew owned kayaks:

Me: "Hey Stef, do you think I'd like kayaking?"

Stef: "Of course, let's go!"

Me: "I don't have anything..."

Stef: "It's ok - just bring yourself and some snacks."

My dear friend has two of everything. We loaded up two kayaks, two life vests, etc... and we spent the day kayaking on some inland lakes here in NorthEastern Wisconsin. We went to three small lakes that day and I was hooked. That afternoon, I went on FB Marketplace and purchased my first kayak (oddly enough the seller was my cousin and Godfather so the kayak came with a paddle, rolling cart, life jacket, hand pump, and all the amenities). My first kayak (shown above on my minivan) had rod holders and is still very much loved and used often. 

I enjoyed kayaking with friends, but the children quickly became interested. My eldest son picked up a small Pelican kayak a few weeks into my kayaking adventures. Turns out he's the one who fishes and he's stronger than I am - so he started using my larger kayak and I got real cozy with the lightweight kayak. Within a few weeks his younger siblings got the itch and we purchased a small child sized kayak from Fleet Farm. My farmer husband was getting a little concerned as by this point we were losing space int he garage. 

Here's a quick pic of the Pelican and my favorite grown up beverage - Press Seltzer (above)

Now back to the story - we had to find a way for all 5 kids to join in the fun on the water, but we were out of room on the roof of the minivan... and keep in mind, we couldn't put much more than the child sized kayak IN the minivan as we need room for 6 of us plus paddles, vests, etc... (and snacks)

We purchased 2 inflatable stand up paddleboards (SUPs) and this was working beautifully - I could comfortably use my SUP with one or both of the youngest girls with me, the other kids could share the kayaks, we could trade off, and many afternoons were spent on the water as a family. For our wedding anniversary in August 2022 I even got my farmer to come with me and we explored Horseshoe Lake together then went for a lovely dinner. 

I felt confident kayaking alone, with the family, with friends, etc... but I had yet to explore any rivers (even though we live within a mile of two beautiful rivers). 

This past weekend I went on an adventure with 14 others as I FINALLY had a chance to explore a river kayak trip. Unfortunately my eldest son broke his arm and couldn't join me as we originally planned - but I was still pretty excited. We put the kayaks in at Hwy S on the Manitowoc River and our end point was on Mill Road. This trip took all of 5 hours because the water levels were a bit low and we had so many people. I was warned not to bring anything valuable and told my yak might get scratched. Since I was going without my son, I brought my folding stepstool and the lightest kayak we have - the orange Pelican (shown above). It felt like a good choice...

Not sure if it was the size of the kayak or my inexperience, I nearly tipped right off in the trip (I could still see the launch) and I spent the first hour with a considerable amount of cold water in the kayak. Luckily my friends helped me and I emptied out (twice along the trip) but I was still really struggling with getting stuck in low areas, hitting rocks, taking on water, etc... this was a whole new experience for me. This wasn't relaxing. It was fun - but a different sort of fun than I've had before. 

Once of girls with us didn't seem to be having the same struggles I was - so I asked her some questions about her kayak as we were departing. I was cold, wet, tired, and felt pretty defeated - luckily a friend lifted my kayak onto my minivan because I wasn't sure I could... and here this girl who hadn't struggled the entire trip was already set to go. Her kayak had disappeared and she was holding a duffel bag. I was confused...

Her kayak that handled the rapids so well fit into the trunk of her fuel efficient tiny car... I made a mental note to find out more as soon as possible. This is when I learned about PAKAYAK and now I must have one ... it's a kayak that can go anywhere and handle just about anything! Sadly there are no dealers around here for a demo - but check this out:

Now my birthday is coming up and all the colors are great - but the SURF color is absolutely amazing! If I get one, I'd love to show everyone how this is such a gamechanger. Imagine having your kayak with you all day every day -  a stressful day at the office and you can sneak away at lunch and go kayaking; on the way home and a friend texts about an opportunity to explore - you're ready! This really is amazing.

Now - nothing against the kayaks I already have - but I didn't know anything like this existed. I could have saved so much money - you don't need roof racks, you don't need to watch youtube videos about how to properly strap down your kayak (or how to safely put 2 on your roof), and I saw this kayak in action - and trust me when I say it's sturdy and water tight! I was emptying out my kayak and here this girl was dry as can be in her PakAYak! 

I wish someone had told me about this option a year ago... and that's why I put together this blog post - I want to save the rest of you some time and money - I've easily spent $2,000 trying to make my other kayaks do what I could have done with a PakAYak...

Hopefully the Bluefin 142 will be the next member of our family!

Happy Paddling Friends!