Transformation Tuesday: Intro to Kayaking

Welcome back to another Transformation Tuesday!

I have recently completely my sailor’s initiation.

Rosemary Ratcliff

Ok, not really sailor, more like paddler. Two summers ago, I went camping in Algonquin Provincial Park with my, then, two and a half-year old daughter. While she splashed around in the lake, I sat on the beach keeping an eye on her and another on the kayakers and canoers. A twinge of envy nipped at me as I observed the paddlers enjoying a warm summer’s day on the lake.

On the beach, I caught snippets of a conversation between two mothers making evening plans as they parted. One of the two pulled a kayak from the beach and into the water, plunked her two small children inside, and paddled away, easily maneuvering the craft. My brain exploded! It looked like a kayak, but the cockpit was wide enough for her and the kids. What was this thing? It turned out to be a recreational kayak. I never knew, never imagined such a thing existed, but it meant that BabyGirl and I could enjoy the lake in a whole different way. I made up my mind to learn more.

Gregory Szarkiewicz

I sat on the idea for a while, unsure of how to get the necessary training. Patience rewarded me when I went hiking at Kelso Conversation Area at the end of last summer. I spotted a trailer full of kayaks being towed by a vehicle covered in butterflies and decals. Easy enough to remember. I checked out their website a few days later but the season for learning was ending so I waited out the fall and winter, periodically checking the website for the first opportunity to sign up for a class.

Finally, the morning of my class came, my excitement dimmed, and I found myself anxious. As I drove to the pool in Burlington, I convinced myself that I would find a class filled with athletic, fearless, extreme sports loving, 20 year olds who planned on doing some whitewater kayaking or something just as reckless challenging while I would be the mom in the practical Wal-Mart bathing suit fumbling through the lessons.

Fear has such a way of taking over my mind! I was one of two of the youngest people in the group. The other “young” person was Mark, a thirty-something dad who was also there because he wanted to take his young children kayaking in a safe and knowledgeable manner.  No one planned on doing anything too extreme: fishing, photography, tripping.

The only death-defying stunt involved forcing ourselves to flip our kayaks while we were inside and releasing ourselves while holding on to our kayak and paddle. The first time was the hardest as my sense of self-preservation kicked in and I wondered if I would remain trapped inside. I ran through the instructions in my mind, took a couple of it’s-me-against-the-world breaths, and flipped that sucker over. 🙂

Courtesy of Jan Carol Phillips

I struggled with the paddling bit. There wasn’t a wall in that pool that I didn’t hit. There wasn’t another kayak in that pool that I didn’t hit. There were a few people bobbing in the water that I hit. I was dangerous until Craig, one of our instructors, observed how well Mark was doing because he was taking things slowly. Ding! Ah, yes. I have a way of rushing through things when I feel I need to prove myself. This was Sunday morning after all, I should be taking it easy.

Please forgive the following baseball analogy but I can’t help myself. Ever watch a pitcher pitch? The ball may travel at 80 or 90 miles an hour but the pitcher takes his time setting himself up for that pitch. He takes his cue from the catcher, fondles his ball warms the ball, takes his stance, channels his power into the ball and releases it. His focus is entirely on the pitch. He looks like he’s meditating. Once I slowed down and focused on the movements, the strokes came easily, the kayak moved faster than I expected but I was still in control of it. Unexpectedly, I was transported: the pale blue water of the pool turned dark brown-green, the salty pungent scent of algae replaced the chlorine smell, birds sang, the heat of the sun warmed me, and a breeze caressed my skin. I am so looking forward to making that daydream a reality! But first, Level 1 Skills course in open water. Gotta go sign up for that now. Blog you later.

What’s your favorite water sport? Any water adventures you’d care to share? What’s your latest transformation challenge?


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  1. #1 by Julie Farrar on March 30, 2012 - 2:18 AM

    I loved this post. I have only kayaked on one trip. My husband and I rented a kayak for two twice on one trip to explore a bay in the Gulf of Mexico. We had canoed in rivers often in the past, so we didn’t anticipate how different kayaking in open water could be. I wrote about it here

    I felt a constant low panic as we struggled against the waves. Perhaps sometime I should seek out a class like you took because I think it was a fear of flipping over that bothered me. My husband says he’d rather stick with canoeing (which others were doing in this bay). But I do have a vision of myself gliding silently across a lake at sunset or along an ocean coast toward some extraordinary rock formation.

    • #2 by Patricia Caviglia on March 30, 2012 - 7:47 AM

      Julie, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’ve canoed too and it is very different from kayaking. I applaud you for trying it out in the Gulf. Too great a challenge for me.
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  2. #3 by Siri Paulson on March 29, 2012 - 11:47 AM

    Great post! I love kayaking (and canoeing), though I don’t do it often and am not very good. I did take one course where we had to flip — it’s just as terrifying as you said! Not sure exactly where in Ontario you are, but the Toronto Islands have kayak rentals…all those little channels are lovely to explore. I think there are also rentals available on the Humber River and at the Harbourfront Centre. Hope you’re able to get out on the water with your little one this summer!

    • #4 by Patricia Caviglia on March 29, 2012 - 11:55 AM

      Thanks Siri. I’m looking at joining the Halton Outdoor Club and I definitely plan on jumping on some social paddles around Toronto Islands. Are you in the GTA too?
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

      • #5 by Siri Paulson on March 29, 2012 - 10:57 PM

        Yes, I’m in Toronto, near Etobicoke. Thanks for reminding me that I like boats — you’ve inspired me to find time to get out on the water this summer!

        • #6 by Patricia Caviglia on March 29, 2012 - 11:11 PM

          Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  3. #7 by corajramos on March 28, 2012 - 8:35 PM

    Congratulations on being brave and going for it. Atta girl!

  4. #9 by Tami Clayton on March 28, 2012 - 1:31 PM

    Good for you for getting out on the water and kayaking! How brave to do flips, too! A friend of mine convinced me to try kayaking when we were camping in the Tetons. It had been a dream of hers to kayak on a beautiful lake there so I indulged her even though I was terrified of doing it. Aside from having to watch out for the boats and the wakes they created, I was surprised at how much fun it was! Since then, I’ve taken my then-10 year-old on a kayaking day-long excursion where we paddled down to the Pacific Ocean from an inland lake.

    • #10 by Patricia Caviglia on March 28, 2012 - 8:03 PM

      Sounds like two very cool trips!
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  5. #11 by Joan Leacott on March 27, 2012 - 12:51 PM

    I’m into canoeing at my cottage near Killbear Park. The peaceful feeling is the same. BTW, Patricia, I see you write YA and wanted to let you know that the Toronto Romance Writers are doing a YA workshop on April 14. Details are here: Check back later for a revised location due to the library strike.

    • #12 by Patricia Caviglia on March 28, 2012 - 11:25 PM

      Killbear sounds wonderful and is on my Parks-To-Visit list. Thanks for the invite!

  6. #13 by Darlene Steelman on March 27, 2012 - 12:42 PM

    Good job, Patricia… 🙂 I am so very proud of you! And you can never go wrong when you do it “Easy Like Sunday Morning.”

  7. #15 by Patricia Sands on March 27, 2012 - 7:57 AM

    What a great idea! There are a lot of beautiful places to go kayaking in your area too. Check out the Grand River

    • #16 by Patricia Caviglia on March 27, 2012 - 9:20 AM

      Thanks Pat, I will! Care to join me?
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  8. #17 by Catherine Johnson on March 27, 2012 - 6:41 AM

    That’s wonderful Patricia. My sister got into kayaking on weekends and now she is training for a quadrathlon! I can hardly believe it. I used to go kayaking in the Lake District in England, but I didn’t dare do the turn under water. You are very brave just doing that. Even on calm waters I was nervous about going under lol.

    • #18 by Patricia Caviglia on March 27, 2012 - 9:19 AM

      Kayaking is a lot of fun. It’s easy to see how your sister got the bug. I’m nervous about the open water course but I’d be terrified to kayak without some basic skills so you’re the brave one.
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

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