A Family Adventure

in the mountains, ocean, and air

First kayaking trip of the year

May 11, 2021
Emilie Phillips

I am really glad we got our first kayaking trip in this early in May. Getting started kayaking for the season seems to be a bigger shift than any of our other seasonal sports. The last few years we have drug our feet and not really gotten out until July. Maybe it’s also that we have accumulated a list of kayaking related to dos.

Isaac has a new qajaq. It’s a hand me down skin on frame from his grandmother. He and I both have new dry suits. He outgrew his old one, and my old one started to leak. We switched to Yakima racks last year, and that system isn’t yet settled. And then there is a list of repairs/modifications needed on our existing kayaks.

We started packing and fitting Sunday morning, intending to drive 5 minutes to the local lake and paddle for an hour before the larger family mother’s day event in Jaffrey. However, by the time we were done categorizing, fitting, mounting, and strapping, it was time to unload everything. Tyson suggested we leave the car packed and ready to go another day. Thus, on Tuesday as soon as Isaac got off the school bus, we changed into our dry suits and headed down to the Nashua River in Pepperell. The river is more scenic, and was more appropriate for the 15mph of wind blowing.

Isaac liked his new boat. He had no trouble paddling it or maneuvering it even though it is sixteen and a half feet long. (Or at least no more trouble going straight than he ever had in his old blue boat.) Isaac worked his nerves up to doing a wet exit in the cold water. He was a little rusty, so then Tyson demonstrated a wet exit too. I opted for just a roll. Later, Isaac tried some edging drills. His stationary edge is good. Here especially we were relieved to see the new kayak responding to him. Isaac also worked on edging while paddling, but that’s still a work in progress. Tyson’s issue early season is always his hamstring stretches. The one hour paddle worked great for him.

All Photos

Some of the issues we encountered

On the new racks: we moved the bike racks out to fit the kayak racks, but it’s cumbersome. It looks like we will be better off with a separate set of bars for kayaks vs bikes. We also want to switch from J style kayak racks to flat carried kayaks. For that, we need to go buy more foam, and come up with a solution for the outer kayak to keep the strap from slipping off the end of the bar. If you are interested, I can post photos of whatever racking solution we come up with.

The new dry suits gaskets need more stretching. Isaac’s face turned purple when he first wore his on Sunday. We stretched the neck some before Tuesday and it helped. Mine need the wrists stretched. Also, I have a minor complaint about the fit of my new drysuit. Kokatat must have changed dry suit testers. The old dry suit fit me well. The new one has a giant bubble of space for larger breasts. It wouldn’t be an issue, except that the zipper acts like a hoop holding the fabric out. Thus making it hard to get my PFD on.

The last big chunk of to dos revolves around kayak fitting and repairs. Isaac needs a new custom foam bulkhead for a foot rest. We tried shaving the old one down, but Isaac’s leg length now puts the bulkhead at a spot that needs a different design. Next up is upgrading the Bullitt (our tandem kayak) with a new from hatch and fiberglass bulkhead. Right now, the bow is open and we have to fill it with a floatation bag. Isaac is asking to go on longer trips in the Bullitt, so we want to be able to pack gear, and we want the boat to float better if it gets swamped in an open water crossing mishap. Tyson and I both have a wish list for our own kayaks. Maybe we can each get one thing done this year.

GPS track