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Playing Catchup

We have been having some Internet connection problems at our house and I have not yet isolated the problem between the Qwest ADSL line or the ADSL modem. Still working on it. However that doesn’t mean we have not been paddling.

Pam brought her Cape Falcon Kayak F-1 over from the Seattle area over the weekend so that Sue and Hailey could try it out. Sue likes my F-1 but, then, so do I. Pam likes her

Pam's F-1 before covering... 2 sizes smaller than mine

Pam's F-1 before covering... 2 sizes smaller than mine

F-1 but she prefers her longer fiberglass kayaks (and is trying to sell off a few of her spare boats in order to buy something new). I generally paddle the Mariner Express or the Mariner II when I’m out paddling any distance but if I’m just dinking around it will be the F-1 every time.

So we took the two F-1 kayaks over to Kristy and Micheal’s house. Kristy is our daughter (Sue and I) she lives on a more protected lagoon connected to the main lake by canals with cool little bridges to paddle under and lots of twists and turns. Her house is 3.5 statute miles from our house and it’s pretty handy to be able to paddle between them.

First in Mellow (Pam has named her yellow F-1) was Connie who is an exchange student from Germany spending six months with Kristy and Michael. Connie is a member of a rowing club back home so it came as no real surprise to me that she adapted easily to kayaking. She started out with Sue’s bent-shaft paddle but half-way through our short trip I gave her my new straight-shaft Lightning and she seemed to prefer that.

Next in Mellow was my wife Sue who decided that, although it’s a tighter fit (Pam’s F-1 is a size smaller than standard while my F-1 is a size larger), she liked it a lot. That tighter fit gives the paddler greater control over what is, after all, a very nimble and maneuverable little kayak.

Kristy tried it next and she had a slight problem getting her longer legs into the boat (the flotation in the bow was slightly too long) but she also liked the boat. After her paddle (Sue was in my F-1) was over she complained a little about it being somewhat “tippy” but that she could get used to it. I told her to hold onto the dock and get the kayak on edge to show her how stable that F-1 really was. She could easily get the boat on edge enough so that water was almost entering the cockpit. Then, much to my surprise, she let go of the dock and maintained her edge. Kristy has never been a daredevil so this was a shock. She could even swap edges…. without a paddle or holding on. That F-1 was solid as a rock!

Michael got into my F-1 (Michael and I are both big boys) and took that out alone because I could not manage to pry myself into Mellow. He seemed to be impressed with the little boat’s speed.

The next day, Monday, we took Hailey over to the lagoon and put her into Mellow for a test paddle. Hailey had considered my old Mariner Coaster to be “her” kayak until it was destroyed in the shop fire last winter. I was curious to see if she still felt a connection to the design. The F-1 is a modification of Cam and Matt Broze’s Mariner Coaster re-designed for skin-on-frame construction by Brian Shulz of Cape Falcon Kayaks (www.capefalconkayak.com). Brian offers workshops where you can build your own F-1 (customized to fit you) or one of several kayaks – including some traditional Greenland boats.

Hailey is no stranger to kayaking. When she was a baby she used to crawl around and into my white water kayaks which I kept in the dining room of the Lake House back when it was my lake cabin. She was in a kayak solo at age three and has, every year since then, gained skills and even learned to edge the old Coaster to keep it on course.

Hailey on our dock's swim ladder

Hailey on our dock's swim ladder

One has to be careful while intoducing children to kayaking and not push them into it too hard but whenever she wanted to paddle I was ready to go with her. Now that she is eight she likes kayaking but she also likes going out on a jet ski. No surprises there.

She and I went through the tunnel and into another lagoon where Hailey decided to chase some juvinile ducks around for a while. The woman who had been feeding those ducks from her dock watched and remarked that Hailey was pretty impressive in her control over that boat. I rescued the ducklings from Hailey’s friendly predation and we continued through the cut past the campground and into the main lake.

About half way down the main lake Hailey ran out of steam and pulled up to me to clip on for a tow around the point and back into the canals where I stopped and demanded that she start paddling on her own again. There was considerable debate over this but I hung in there and soon she was off chasing down ducks again.

Everyone who could get into Mellow loved it. Connie fit it the best but at 16 years old with a slender body she would fit into almost anything. I was happy that Hailey could paddle this longest trip of her paddling career. And hopeful that Sue would prefer the smaller Mellow over my boat.

Nothing exciting about any of these paddles except that it’s always exciting to help introduce new people to paddling. I was also happy to help Kristy expand her skills into edging. And Hailey, as always, was a joy to hang out with.

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