The Sport is Exploding
Over the last five years, Irma and I have witnessed a tremendous growth taking place in kayaking and paddleboarding on the lakes where we enjoy the sport. People of all ages seem to be taking to the waters in record numbers, especially seniors. Why? Because it is good, healthy fun and easy to do.
Irma and I have been discussing seniors kayaking golden rules that should be considered before taking up the sport.
Rule Number One:
Watch and observe. We don’t advise anyone to head to the kayak store and buy one because there are so many different makes and models from which to choose and you will probably end up with the wrong choice for your dream of a day on the water. We suggest you head out to the nearest lake or river, find some people kayaking and see what they are doing. Look for mature kayakers, not young people because they are blessed with great agility and have no fear. Once we pass retirement age we tend to not want to end up swimming to shore.
Look for people paddling both hard shell and inflatable kayaks. Watch how they get out of their kayaks. You may notice that most kayaks are easy to get into. Generally that is the easy part. With the kayak in a few inches of water, simply step in with one foot, lower yourself down to the seat while bringing the other foot inside. While doing this, you are steadying the kayak with both hands. Irma and I have an inflatable kayak and when we are ready, we launch our kayak parallel to the shore. Irma gets in first and settles down and with her paddle she holds the kayak steady while I get into my seat. When we are inside and comfortable, we paddle away.
Before we ever bought a kayak, we tried one at my nephew’s cottage. He had a couple of hard shell kayaks and I hopped into one and took off. I loved it and couldn’t get over how easy it was to move through the water. It hardly drew any water and could skim over rocks and logs three or four inches under the water. My first thought was that we must get a couple of these for ourselves! This was before I came back to the cottage and attempted to get out of it! This was not a canoe that was wide open.
This is the type that I tried to get out of without ending up in the water.
This kayak has an oval hole where you sit. I tried one leg but I’m six feet tall and couldn’t get my leg free. I tried the other leg and that wouldn’t work either. Finally, I managed to get one leg out but as I squirmed around, the kayak kept moving away from me. I couldn’t stand up and couldn’t get back in. I could feel myself losing whatever balance I had remaining and as the kayak moved away, I ended up sitting in the water with my legs sticking straight up in the air and feeling like a fool! Of course the kids who were watching were laughing uncontrollably as they had sensed this was going to happen and were waiting for the show.
That was the first and last time I would ever sit in a similar kayak because I had learned my lesson. Even today, a good many years later, I don’t even want to watch someone trying to get out of one of the hard shells.
Young people are so agile they have no problems with these things but when this happened I was 70 years old and should have known better.
Rule Number Two:
Buy an inflatable kayak! This golden rule for seniors kayaking should always start with steering clear of what anyone tells you. If you are a senior and a beginner, the inflatable kayak is simple to operate. Getting into and out of them is a dream! Yes, you can still get wet as I did a couple of times, but chances are you will be smarter than me and not get into trouble.
Preparing for a trip on the lake. The seats are on the hood of the car.
We bought a two-person Sea Eagle inflatable kayak. It is 12 feet long and you can get into and out of it easily. It has three air chambers, one for the floor and one for each side. It takes only 10 minutes to inflate. I use a small 12-volt electric pump that I plug into the receptacle in the car. I fill the chambers and then top off the air with the foot pump that comes with it. While I’m doing the filling, Irma is inflating the seats, putting together the paddles, and taking the lifejackets out of the trunk and getting the stuff to the spot where we will put it into the water.
Did I mention that we keep our kayak in the trunk of our Honda Civic? There is plenty of room for everything. We don’t need to buy a roof rack, worry about it blowing off the roof, or knocking it off the roof by hitting the overhead door to our condo. It sits quietly in the trunk just waiting for us to get to the lake.
This was taken at Ladner (Dees Island) British columbia. Irma and I are being passed by our Daughter and her son.
Rule Number 3:
Forget about speed and fast water! As we age, we should slow down and smell the roses because everything moves too fast. Everyone is always in a hurry. I suppose we all were in a hurry to get over into the fast lane but the end will come quickly enough, don’t you think? So why should speed enter into kayaking? One of the greatest pleasures a person can experience is to sit out in the kayak on a lake of mirror-like water on a perfect day, close our eyes and soak up the sun.
To get to one of our beautiful lakes we cross a river over a bridge. That river has some great whitewater and is home to many kayak races. We leave that river for the young folks who have a great time challenging themselves to go faster and faster around the many rocky challenges that make up the river.
Playing it Safe
Since our kayak is inflatable there is always a chance we could experience a leak; therefore, we tend to cruise along the shore most of the time. Of course this is where the birds and animals hang out. Animals appear to lose their fear of man when approached from the water in a kayak. Irma and I have seen deer feeding along the shore of a lake and have drifted right in to where they are feeding and they simply go on feeding. This little family of Mergansers (mother and 13 babies) were enjoying basking in the sun on a lake. We passed their rocky perch within a few feet as we were pulling in to enjoy a cup of tea on the beach. Our bow was actually touching the rock not 3 feet from them. It wasn’t until I took some photos of them that they decided to move a few feet to the left and set down again.
Give it a Try
So that‘s about it for our Ultimate Guide on seniors kayaking golden rules. By all means, don’t let the world go by and wonder what it must be like to be out there on a nice stretch of water. If we 82-year-olds can get out there and enjoy it, why can’t you?