How you started and your first kayak or canoe

Spill it all.

I broke my hip bicycling. I was recovering and a buddy asked me if I wanted to go canoeing with him. We went to the local reservoir and met up with a (heavy) guy in a long kayak out on the water. We talked with the kayaker for a while then headed back to the take out. The kayak beat us back big time. I decided I had to have one of those boats. First kayak was the Cape Horn 15 with a rudder. Still riding bikes. Haven’t broken any bones in a long time. Knock wood.

Me decided one day to rent so we went out and enjoyed it. Went back two days later to purchase 15’ Ocean Trident and 13’ Hobie Quest. Both SOT. Then on to composite CD yaks. Live on water and have boat so not like it was my only outlet to the water. So 7 in the yard now. LOL. Funny bought SOT for easy exits even though I trained and was comfortable escaping offshore race boats when turned over. Dark and unstrap to escape enclosed cockpit after a wreck. Yet I thought how to get out of sit in kayak. Me stupid.

My favorite exercises for years were walking and hiking. Hiking was typically 10, 15, or 20 miles.
Food was never as good or a shower as relaxing as after a long day hike.
Then my legs started to go bad. Drop foot on the right and a collapsed foot on the left.
I have been paddling off and on since about 1980. The first boat was a Folbot Super I built from a kit. It was a SOF that would hold our whole family.
My first solo was a Perception Acadia, a 12’ rec boat. I loved it and we did lakes, rivers, and protected salt water.
Then the bug really bit. I have built 2 canoes from plans, had a sea kayak and a surf ski, had a tandem and two solo canoes. All of those looking for a boat that my back can tolerate. The same back that took out my legs.
Now I have only rec boats.
My go to is a Tarpon 160.

Lived a mile from the Ocean from 5-13, and on a lake from 13-19. We had a boat and fished offshore since I was 5. Learned canoeing in scouts as a teen and had a small sailboat and johnboat on the lake. Bought a 16’ tandem canoe in 1974, a Folbot tandem (kayak) in 1984. In 2010 bought a 10’ rec kayak and 17’ sea kayak. In 2012 built a 17’ sea kayak. I now have a couple solo canoes, and 2 sailboats as well.

Went to a boat show in Newport RI.
No aim to purchase
Came home with Perception Keowee after a test paddle in the harbor
A year later came the ungodly Aquterra Spectrum. A year later the Prinon Seayak which stayed a few years

Paddling Swifties that were available at the Cove where my husband and I vacationed. Until we realized that we were doing things with them that, though nothing compared to any proper sea kayaking trek, were still trips the young kids were barred from trying. So we came back the next year with our own transition kayaks, 13 footers, Worked fine on local small water bodies, but It took day 5 in Maine to realize we had too little boat and everything else for what we really wanted to do. Came back the next year with proper sea kayaks and more stuff.

My father was a fisherman and we had a family practice of alternating family vacations between fishing trips to Canada and road trips (usually involving Civil War historic sites). On the fishing trips we motor boat camped on islands on the Waubaskang Chain of lakes, L. Packwash, or Red Lake in Ont…Here’s a shot of the family on one of those early trips. Bonus points will be awarded to anyone who can tell me what year and make of truck this is - I don’t remember.

On one of the Northern trips we were joined by a family that my father worked with and their son, Mike, had a canoe. We towed it out to the island we all camped on and that was where I was introduced to canoes - and was amazed that a 17 ft canoe with one paddler could paddle rings around me in a 12 ft. fishing boat using two oars.
Here’s a shot of Mike (taken at the base of Perrault Falls) - from that trip, which I think was about '61 or so. Pardon the fuzzy glove in the shot. It was Sept. and cold.

When I was older I got a Grumman just like Mike’s and the rest is history. I spent a lot of my Jr. High and High School years paddling on the (polluted pre-EPA) Fox River near where I lived, dreaming of clean clear Canadian lakes but pretty much grateful to have any place to paddle at all. Here’s a shot of a friend and I trying to set up an umbrella tent from those days… this was near Lock and dam 13 on the Mississippi.

There were times I didn’t paddle much shortly after HS and when I moved to a city (where my Grumman was stolen from under a porch where I lived), and later to college (where I replaced it). I bought the replacement to take my future ex-wife on our first trip together. It cost more the second time around. We took many trips together and those were some of the best times we had together.
I got a solo (a blem Blackhawk Starship) in the early 90’s and have been building a fleet ever since. Been paddling a lot more since then, and especially when I started meeting up with Pnetters who I’ve been running with for almost 15 years now and some with a local paddling club. I’ve slowed a bit in the last couple years due to some health issues that I’m hoping are now pretty much resolved.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I got started like many others in the Boy Scouts, probably around 1969. My dad had powerboats, but my first river trip in a tin tank had me hooked. I knew it was paddles for me!
My brother and I rented canoes for quite some time. In 1977 I purchased a pair of White Brothers kayaks from an outfitter in Delhi, NY. Never looked back!

I developed a love for going out in small boats during fishing outings with my dad when I was a kid. We used tiny rowboats, usually with a little outboard motor on larger bodies of water, but usually just using the oars on small waters. Two or three trips to the Mississippi backwaters when I was still in grade school got me hooked on getting away from all signs of civilization. I became interested in canoeing when I ran across a DNR booklet on Wisconsin Canoe Trips, but I remained ignorant of the existence of solo canoes, so as I got older, I went on all sorts of solo adventures in my dad’s 12-foot jonboat under oar power, and on trips in tandem canoes via club events in college and graduate school.

While I’m at it, I’ll mention that one of my dad’s boats was a home-built “duck boat” that was 10 feet long. It would be comparable to many modern rec kayaks, and it even was propelled with a home-built double-blade paddle. My first trip to the Mississippi River backwaters was in that boat - with three of us on board.

About 15 years ago I went to Canoecopia, the local paddle shop’s annual sale and extravaganza. It was my first time there, and I went because I was down in the dumps and because I had nothing better to do at the time. I came home with a sleek and nimble 12-foot rowboat. Less than a year later I got the boat’s bigger brother, an Adirondack guide-boat. Both boats put to complete shame what I had always thought had been a perfectly fast and graceful rowboat - my dad’s jonboat. In the meantime, thanks to Canoecopia and this website, I had become aware of solo canoes and started lusting after one of those as well, and eventually came to have three - one for every purpose (every purpose that suits me, anyway) - plus a tandem canoe that’s most at home in moderately fast and turbulent water. Given my already-established penchant for adventures on the water, that first trip to Canoecopia turned out to be one of the best things I ever did.

First time I paddled a canoe was in scout camp and I remember that we came back hours after the time that we were supposed to return. Years later we lived in Ann Arbor when they had a great canoe shop (Canoe Sport) and one day drove past a Blackhawk Canoe demo day on the Huron River and ended up stopping. I remember that there were about a couple dozen colorful boats in the water and it looked like Easter eggs and folks were doing freestyle stuff. Ended up buying a Blackhawk Combi 15.8 right from the Blackhawk owner/designer (Phil Siggelkow). Bought a Blackhawk Shadow 14 about a year later and started paddling a lot.

Started in Boy Scouts & was ‘ruined for life’ by a week long trip to Algonquin in '66. Read too much Harry Roberts in the ‘70s & went in with a friend on a Wenonah Jensen 18’ - ordered special with a Kevlar layer. Second wife & I bought the Cruiser with our wedding money - it had been on display at Raupps Campfitters for a year or so. A couple of years later it was time to add a solo & we did demo a Black Hawk at Canoe Sport but we weren’t ready for it at the time. Ended up with the Indy from Sports Connection in Jackson. Of course once you have two small boats they breed. We are down a few since our daughter has taken three now to North Carolina. I may have to build another to fill the open slot in the garage.

Was introduced to canoeing at Girl Scout camp in 1966. My Dad loved canoeing, probably going back to his boy scout days, but he waited until my brothers and I had been introduced to canoeing at youth camps before trying canoeing as a family activity. Apparently he’d always wanted an Old Town Otca, so in 1968 our family got a 17 ft. Otca. A couple of decades later my parents were moving from California to Oregon and didn’t want to deal with moving the canoe. They said I could have the Otca if I got it out of their garage. I lived a couple of thousand miles away in a second floor apartment with no place to store a canoe. One brother agreed to haul the canoe to Oregon for me where the other brother agreed to store it in his garage for a year until I could pick it up. Meanwhile I found a first floor apartment that had an open living room - dining area - kitchen space with enough room to fit a 17 ft canoe along one wall. The following summer I drove out to Oregon and hauled the Otca to Louisiana. That was the beginning of my canoe collection.

My father was an active paddler with the AMC in the late 80’s early 90’s, and would always bug me to paddle tandem with him.

At that point my kids were young, so I could only go out a couple of times a year, but they were fun trips. By the time I started seriously paddling, my father’s arthritis got worse and he had to stop - kind of a bummer. I still have that 30-year old Mohawk tandem, and paddle it as often as I can.

Reading the above, I am seeing one common thread that I realized also applies to me. I didn’t get the time on the water I would have liked when was a kid by practicalities and only rare access to a canoe. Salt water for the first part, the rough language on bigger fishing boats out of New Jersey and the management of necessaries in a smaller craft w/o a bathroom left me on shore while my father took my brother out to have all the fun from the Jersey shore. Canoes on fresh water were only available at Girl Scout events or later on friends who had a lake house. So I never had the access I would have liked.

But - I don’t remember any time that I had access to getting on the water that I didn’t, salt or fresh. If I could wheedle or sneak my way onto anything that floated I did. My mother made sure all of us could swim competently as soon as lessons were possible age-wise, so being on water was never an issue.

So yeah, like the above my desire to be on the water goes all the way back. Especially salt water.

  • How you started and your first kayak

When I first moved to Minnesota years ago, I started with canoes (I think that’s a law in MN).
After about a year, I saw an ad in the back of a canoe magazine - showing an Aquaterra Chinook paddling off ‘Pictured Rocks’ (Lake Superior - near Munising).
Having been there by ferry often as a child, the area intrigued me, but knew it’s accessability to canoe was quite ‘iffy’, but in a kayak, would be safer.
Bought one (Chinook), the following year a Nordkapp, the following years, …

Several of us high school sophomores joined the Boy Scouts in 1956 just to canoe in the Boundary Waters. After that trip, the several of us ‘unjoined’ the Boy Scouts, but continued to journey to Ely each year for our Boundary Waters trip. We did this for maybe 9 years as the other participants sometimes changed. Once per summer we would drive north from Ely and then canoe into the Quetico for our week … in that era no permits were needed and no other people were encountered after the first day. As a group of young folk we remained clueless about safety e.g. certainly no life vests. And we certainly paid no attention to the border crossing. As the years trundled by, along came family, children, and various jobs, but the canoe trips fell away.

Fast forward to 2006 when I worked (part time, post retirement) in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. My wife suggested that we try a multi week kayaking course at the college. This hooked me - and my wife, to a lesser extent. We eventually purchased kayaks, a fleet that now seems to have stabilized with 2 kayaks too many. My favorite fleet-kayak is my SKUK Explorer and my wife has a Necky Looksha IV. We live by North Idaho’s Lake Pend Oreille where we typically kayak, but occasionally try other small local lakes or flat rivers. Additionally we kayak the waters off Vancouver Island two or three trips per year.

I was a single father with two kids and a deadbeat ex who NEVER paid a cent in child support but ALWAYS begged me for a ‘loan’ as she was between paychecks.
So I simply got tired of watching my watch when I rented a canoe and found a Coleman Ram-16 in a thrift store. The manager sold it to the for $50 so I got a couple cheap paddles and a couple cheap orange horse collar PFDs and we took off.
Thing is, my daughter has no balance so rolled the canoe our first trip.
So I advertised for a second boat and some store called with a pair of Mallard kayaks on consignment.
“What is a kayak” I asked, then bought the pair and that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship between me and paddling.

FYI, my daughter is a sports star who blew her knee in tennis so paddling a kayak saved her. It gave her a sport she could do AND saved her knees.

As near as I can remember, when I was about twelve years old, my cousin and I rented an aluminum canoe and went paddling on Whitefish Lake in Montana. That was repeated a few times over a few years and then some time passed before I got into sailing and mostly bigger boats. Along comes an opportunity to get a really good deal on a canoe. This was a way to get on the water without going to the trouble of messing with the sailboat.

The canoe led to an interest in something a bit more stable and something to take along when we spent our winters in Arizona on the Colorado River. My daughter bought me an inflatable kayak, which I thought was the real deal. Well that led to looking at rigid kayaks and I bought an Old Town Loon and loved it. Of course I never thought I would graduate up to a sea kayak, but the next thing I knew I was looking at used sea kayaks. Went to a kayak store to check out a used Capella and came away with a brand new CD Sirocco. That was the ultimate kayak and I was set for good. So I thought.

After a few years in the Sirocco, I determined that I had to have something for longer distance and faster. I paddled a whole bunch of sea kayaks and somehow got a glimpse of the Novus Composite sea kayaks that are built about 80 miles north of where I live. After a visit to the shop in Tacoma where they are built, I had to have one. Knowing that this was a big step up, I continued to try a lot more boats and finally made the decision to order an NC Expedition. I wasn’t too sure of what I was getting into, but I loved the looks of the boat. It has turned out to be a double good thing, because the boat forced me to learn to be a better paddler and opened a whole new dimension of kayak performance.

I still have all the kayaks, but I admit that the inflatable hasn’t seen the water in a long time.

When I was ten my parents bought a row boat and a lake lot. At eleven I went to Boy Scout summer camp and was introduced to a canoe. After a series of canoes, sailboats, fishing boats a good looking woman told me to get into kayaking. Well…