Confessions of a boating bimbo

They say you never forget your first. And as much as I’ve tried over the years, I still remember mine clearly to this day. Let’s just say, at the time, I was inexperienced and desperate – any one would do. All I knew was, my friends were all getting in on the action, and I wanted some, too. I tried to be rational in my decision-making so as to avoid any long-term regrets. But when it came down to it, I took home the first one that caught my eye. Big and sleek and dressed smartly in blue, I was sure nothing could go wrong as we drove to my house. OK, so I was a little over possessive at first, making sure the straps were extra tight at both ends and no one else saw, for fear of jealous retaliation. But then again, it’s not every day that a girl gets her first kayak.

Unfortunately, less than a year later, my Dagger Transition and I had parted ways. Despite a promising beginning, the relationship soon soured as I got dumped over and over again. At first, I thought it was just me. But after a summer of grueling roll sessions and learning a combat sweep more bomber than a nuclear fall-out shelter, I realized that maybe it had something to do with the archaic plastic death tube I was paddling.

Ok, call me a kayak floozy, ready to drop my trusty companion for the next best thing. But it was all about the flat bottom then. Long, skinny and pointy was so ’96. Anyway, with the following year’s new crop, I was soon looking for greener water on the other side of the eddy fence. As for the “Transmission,” as I aptly took to calling it, it found a new, loving home at the swap, so the ending was a happy one. Or so I thought.

See, despite telling myself every year, that “this would be the last” and “they just can’t get any smaller,” I continually found myself with the wandering eye. Before I knew it, I had become a revolving door for boats. First it was a flashy Kinetic; followed by a slightly masochistic Vengeance; and then a super slicey Ace. Then there were the flings – small, passing dalliances with XXXs, EZs, Pyranhas and King Pins.

But when it came down to loyalty, I just couldn’t commit. “It’s too long,” “too tippy,” “too wide,” “too slow,” “too hard to roll,” “too hard to surf,” I’d complain before going out in search of something better. It was somewhere around No. 5 that I realized I had a problem. I begged my husband for forgiveness, telling him it could be worse – I could have had an expensive shoe habit or affinity for fine jewelry. And as I caressed the new, blue plastic, smooth as a baby’s bottom, I swore this would be the last. “I’m really in love this time,” I swooned.

I tried, I really tried. When its nose incessantly kept going where I didn’t want it to go, I would gently reel it back in without reprimand. When the newer, shinier models paraded by, I gave it a reassuring pat on the chine and promised I would never stray. I was as steadfast and dependable as Old Faithful itself.

But even Old Faithful takes the day off once in a while.

And before I knew it, like the black widow of the paddling world, I was about to claim my next victim. Although it was not without a little remorse. I’ll admit I did feel a pang of guilt as I picked out the newer, smaller, candy carrot orange model all within plain sight of its predecessor, still humiliatingly strapped to the roof of my car.

However, it soon became apparent that the newest addition to my plastic harem was going to be no push over. In fact, our first date was a little embarrassing, to say the least.

Somehow, we found ourselves at the top of a busy after-work eddy, with all eyes impatiently on us. Suffice to say our harried first dance together was more like Sid and Nancy than Fred and Ginger. And our ensuing outings weren’t much better. Multiple power flips, unintendos, window-shadings, nasal douchings and upside down mystery moves had me contemplating crawling back to old blue and begging forgiveness.

Maybe it was that cute, little orange snub-nose, bane of my existence that it was, but I decided to stick it out. And when the spousal unit offered to be Mr. Mom while I went boating, I had little time for introspection. First checking to make sure that my ears had not deceived me (Surfing? On a school night?) I headed for the door before he had time to realize the repercussions of his actions.

Soon, it was just me and the spanking carrot, as I had come to refer to my newest vessel. We set out on calm water and made our way to a favorite surf wave, which of late had been the sight of much frustration and flailing. I pulled into the eddy to be greeted by two long-lost friends, the type who seem to disappear every year once paddling season is over and then magically reappear once the water rises. And suddenly, I was so happy to be on the water, with the sun shining and the wave glassy, that I forgot all about the stupid spanking carrot. For the next half hour or so, we decided to call a truce, making beautiful music together instead of the usual clash of battle. When I sensed I had used up all my fun tickets for the night – let alone the entire week – I said goodbye to my river pals and the glassy wave, and headed for the shore. I got out and walked back to the car, leaving the friendly roar of the river behind, realizing that boats may come and go, but the river will always be true.

– Missy Votel



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