A few weeks ago I penned a blog about sailboats, and I now take aim at an even more primitive craft: kayaks.
To put it mildly, I’d sooner get naked and hug a cactus than spend all day in a kayak. I say “in” rather than “on” a kayak because unlike a normal boat, half your body is wedged between 18 inches of unforgiving plastic. You’d have to have a grudge against your legs to jam them straight forward into a floating sheath that’s tighter than a Chinese finger trap.
Where to position your leg is only part of the equation. Show me anyone other than a third-grader who could possibly be comfortable planting his or her derriere onto a seat the dimensions of a handkerchief, and I’ll show you a masochist.
Meanwhile, some kayaks come without a backrest or provide one so skimpy it hurts more than helps. Maybe that’s why when exiting these boats, a kayaker’s body resembles the letter “S” and faces a turbulent night fighting off Charlie Horses.
Even referring to a kayak as a boat is an injudicious interpretation — it’s more akin to an enlarged swizzle stick. While its cousin the canoe provides some measure of stability, moving about in a kayak reminds one of a sidewinder snake slithering across the desert sand. All that swerving and twisting of the human body inevitably results in sore buttocks, lower back pain, throbbing shoulder muscles, carpal tunnel syndrome and a riot of other maladies — and that’s just when the water is calm. As soon as waves exceed six inches, you might as well paddle straight into an emergency room.
Advocates of kayaking also proclaim that these hollowed-out noodles provide great exercise and free energy. Maybe that’s true, but I also value my time too much to spend hours reaching a destination by frantically paddling when an outboard engine takes a fraction of the time. I’d much rather not worry about trivialities such as wind direction, tides and current. Just take my credit card to cover the gas cost and let me go about my business without delays or abusing my body.
While normal boats offer a few feet of deck height above the water level, on a kayak that height is measured in inches.
Besides the certainty of spending the day soaked to the bone from lapping waves and spray, the horrid specter of Jaws or a gator turning me into an aperitif doesn’t make me happy.
Another constant worry is capsizing. Falling into the drink and then managing to get back on board is challenging enough, but doing so from a kayak requires balancing skills on the order of The Flying Wallendas.
Fishing from a kayak is scarier still. Not only does a struggling, bloody fish attract toothy predators, a really huge fish on the end of the line can literally tow the kayak hither and yon. Sorry — I do not wish to become a pull-toy for a berserk barracuda.
Of course a kayaker must quickly learn how to best move about with the employment of a paddle. This self-propulsion inevitably requires Schwarzenegger-like arms and shoulders, and after a lifetime of dodging gym memberships that’s not something I’ll ever see in a mirror. It is quite amusing, however, to witness novice paddlers moving about in circles instead of straight lines.
All that aside, kayakers harbor a different mindset. They tend to make eye contact and smile. They drive about with their kayaks strapped upside down atop Volkswagens. They favor fresh air over air conditioning. Their bodies are tanned and toned, their attire a display of simplistic freedom — flip-flops, faded t-shirts and khaki shorts.
Come to think of it, I’ve never heard a kayaker ranting about Trump or Pelosi or worried about what the stock market did today. They seem at peace with themselves and the world.
And yes, I haven’t forgotten that they look revoltingly healthy and happy.
Hmm, I wonder if a kayak would fit atop my Elantra.