My first sea kayaking trip was pretty foggy. The guides had to use compasses to get us to land... but they said they had done the trip so many times, they *could* have found land by instinct; the compasses were just supplemental. :-) Despite the foggy weather, it was an experience designed to hook me on yet another activity... requiring yet another toy. Seals were within feet of our boat, we could hear a loon off in the distance, and we were incredibly close to the water.
I've also been kayaking off the Florida keys which was also an incredible experience. The trip was a combination kayaking/snorkeling trip. It was my first experience snorkeling, and I had to exercise extreme restraint to keep from buying a snorkel and fins. How many toys can one accumulate in one lifetime???
So, after those and other experiences, the time came when I couldn't resist anymore. I'm now the proud owner of a Dagger Cayman--a sit-on-top kayak that has enough storage for short tours, scuba equipment, food, coolers, etc. Yippee!! Three of my biking buddies and I went kayaking shopping in a serious way, and each of us bought one. Mine is blue and purple tie-dyed... name yet to be determined.
My kayak's virgin excursion was at Sunset Beach, NC. A group of 8 of us went down for Halloween weekend 1997. Between us, we had 2 kayaks and 4 bikes... not to mention about 20 games, several movies, and a ton of food. The pictures below capture the kayaking experience pretty well.
Tube Towing With My Kayak
Late one Sunday afternoon, Carol, Charles, and I decided to go kayaking on Jordan Lake. Another biking buddy, Tom, has been bitten by the kayak bug, but just ordered a new bike, so can't afford to add another transportation toy just yet. However, we thought there might be a place at the lake which rents kayaks, so Tom took a chance and came along. Unfortunately, the place that to rent kayaks doesn't exist anymore! Fortunately, I'd gone out to the lake early to take my inner tube and book to float and read. So, taking a cue from the jet skis and power boats, we tied the inner tube to the back of Charles' kayak, Tom took residence in the tube, and off we paddled!
After about 2 minutes, it seemed obvious, the towing wasn't going too well. Luckily, none of us are easy quitters. We added Carol's kayak to the front of the tow team, and set out again. It was still slow going, but it worked! I almost took my camera and decided not to. What a missed photo opportunity! We paddled over to a cove where we sat and recovered (and practiced slithering), and for the trip back, Charles took over the inner tube, and Tom and I towed him back while Carol paddled solo. We caught several amused (or perhaps bemused) smiles from people with motors!
Loading and Unloading the Dagger Cayman: If I can do it, so can you!
When I bought the Cayman, I was a little hesitant because of the weight; it's 58 lbs. I posted a message to the paddling newsgroup to ask for hints about getting a kayak of that weight on and off the car. Folks were encouraging, so I went ahead and bought it. After several times out, I've figured out how to get the boat on my roof rack alone. I have a Yakima rack with the old style stackers (bars which stick up perpendicular to the rack bars). I place a blanket over the rear window and trunk of the car. Then I position the kayak behind the car with the bow facing forward. I lift the bow up and over the trunk and push it forward until it can rest on the rear bar of the rack, trying all the while to keep all 58 pounds from resting on my trunk. Once the bow is on the rear bar, I can lift the rear of the boat and push it forward. Once the boat is on the bars, I center it and then stand up just inside the car door so I can push down on the near side of the the kayak while pulling up on the far side so that it ends up resting on its side. This is the hardest part, actually. Once it's in that position, it's remarkably stable while I put the straps on and tighten them.
Surprisingly, a friend of mine has a Necky Dorado. I can't seem to get the Necky to stand up on its side very well. It tends to slide until it's slanted at about a 45 degree angle. Once in that position, it's also very stable.
On my 1996 Chevy Cavalier, I can get 2 kayaks using the stackers and one bike mount. What a great little car!