Floating Along

Part of my mission in writing a blog is to give you ideas of activities that can get you out enjoying life. As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m no athlete. In fact, I have to fight a natural tendency to just sit on the couch in my temperature-controlled home with a good book. Yet, I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon – once I’m outside, I usually wind up enjoying life to a greater degree than if I stayed in my safe cocoon.

Today I’m going to address using self-propelled watercraft. Boats – they go against my very nature in multiple ways. First off, unless you are using one with your rubber duckie in the bathtub, you are likely to be *gasp* OUTSIDE! Since I’ve already discussed my aversion to being outdoors, I’ll proceed to the next point.

Let me just put it out there – I can’t swim. When I tell people that I can’t swim, they typically respond the same way you’d expect if someone said they couldn’t whistle. “Are you sure? Maybe if someone just spent time helping you, you could. Hey, let me teach you….” I used to let them try. However, after dozens of attempts by friends and strangers alike, I just prefer not to spend the time and frustrations involved in the sessions. Instead, I largely just avoid water, except for what is necessary for personal cleanliness.

So why, given even these two reasons to avoid boats, would I be encouraging you to go out onto the water? Below I’ll list a few of the enticements that keep me going back on the water.

You have quite a few choices of personal water crafts. I have used canoes, kayaks, and recently I tried a stand up paddle board. I even tried a water tricycle (pictured below) a year or two ago. It was more challenging than it looked.

Water Tricycle

As a teenager, I was invited on a number of canoe outings. It was a great way to be able to bond with other young people. I admit that it did take me years to figure out the basics of steering a canoe. In fact, when my daughter was young, we went on a canoe trip that ended up being quite embarrassing. We found that we had a wonderful talent for making our canoe go in circles. After much frustration, we gradually learned to coordinate our strokes and by the end of our outing, we had our confidence restored.

I grew up viewing kayaks as tippy death traps. The small seating wells looked very confining, not the sort of thing I want to be caught in if my kayak tipped over. I resolved to avoid drowning by staying far away from kayaks. Then I married a man who could swim and viewed the water without fear. On one trip with the kids, I nervously was enticed into a kayak. I quickly discovered that I felt less shaky in a single person kayak than a canoe, partly because I could man it myself (and not have to worry that my partner would shift around). Since that first outing, I have kayaked many times, including off the coast of Alaska.

Sea Kayaking in Ketchikan, Alaska

Just over a week ago, I tried a new floating vehicle – a stand up paddle board. While we were on one kayaking trip, we watched some people standing on a board go by. In Hawaii, we daily spotted people using stand up boards. It looked intriguing, almost like walking on water. I wanted to try it, but was nervous about the whole endeavor. I probably would have used the excuse that I couldn’t justify renting something that I might not use for long, but that rationale went out the window while visiting my brother-in-law and his wife. They had free access to a stand up paddle board, along with other watercrafts. So, I got on board! I can’t say that I used it for very long, but I was on it long enough to say I’ve given it a try. I did feel a little unbalanced and I think my posture was not correct, but I’m glad to have had a chance to give it a whirl.

I have found that being on the water can be very relaxing. I especially enjoy traversing rivers. It’s like getting a glimpse of a secret world that is sheltered from common view. From the trees and flowers along the river banks, the fish and water bugs that call the water home, and the water fowl that nest nearby and dine on the delicacies within, you will see things on a trip in a boat that you would not likely see from shore. The advantage of small craft is that they can access tight, shallow places and the quietness of their self-propulsion allows the paddler to blend in with the surroundings. Also the slower pace enables the water pilot to spot little things (like turtles sunning themselves) that might be missed from a fast moving motor boat. Using a canoe or kayak also connects us to history when these simple devices were used as part of daily life by Native Americans and northern tribes. In the rat race of modern life, it’s nice to be able to go back to simpler ways.

How about you? Have you tried a canoe, kayak, or paddle board? Which is your favorite? What do you enjoy most about using a personal watercraft?

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4 thoughts on “Floating Along

  1. Diana says:

    I have only tried one out of the three-canoeing. I think it would my favorite even if I tried kayaking or using a paddle board. My sister and I have canoed down the river before and that is a lot of fun. It is so peaceful. Something about rivers and lakes have a very calming effect. Kind of a slower pace atmosphere that they create where you feel you don’t have to go fast, unless you want to.

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