Your journey

Where has your paddling journey taken you? What has changed since you first dipped your blade in the water?

I find it interesting that although some people start and stay with the same activity for many years and never switch it up, others will morph into something else, such as: sea kayaking to white water, or expeditions to rock gardening, etc.

What has changed since you started?

My body. The joints don’t work as well as they did when I started 30+ years ago.
A good day paddle then was 20+ miles. Now it is 10 or less. And I still enjoy every minute .
My boats have gotten a lot lighter.


My strength. Whenever I use to start my new hobby the moment I c m losing my grip I use to quit that but here I have fallen into the water so many times but still, I tell myself no I have to do it again and Now I enjoy each and every part of it.

I started with a cheap recreation kayak, decided I wanted to try a touring style boat, which lead to another and another and so on. I bought a new Epic 18x last fall.
Ironically I also just ordered a hobie for fishing!

a ‘snapshot’ of a moment in time of my paddling ‘life’ (1984 to present):

January 16, 1993, Rochester, MN
My last night in a now empty apartment I’ve been renting, since selling my house and car, leaving my job at IBM.
All my ‘belongings’ have been put in storage.
I’m sleeping in an old sleeping bag I will dispose of in the morning.
The old, decrepit winter coat I’ll be wearing in the morning (winter Minnesota) - I will be disposing of on entering Sydney airport on a warm summer day.

I’m flying out in the morning to paddle the east coast of Australia, having never paddled ocean before.


Wishing you a wonderful, adventurous, safe journey, Raisins. Please stay in touch and let us know how it is going. Photos, too, if practical.

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Sorry, that was all the ‘moment in time’ (trip was in '93)
kind of a ‘pivotal’ moment in my on going ‘journey’.

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I started in a 15 foot Coleman canoe in my late teens that I paddled for years. Then I got hooked into sea kayaking, and much better canoes. Dabbled in WW kayaks for a time. Kayaking trips included places like Alaska, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and a good chunk of the coast of Maine. Learned all kinds of crazy rolls, made my own paddles, and made a LOT of friends along the way. Most of my adult life has been “paddle-centric”. Parts are starting to get a little creaky now, but that’s what painkillers are for.

Oops… :roll_eyes:

I grew up a few blocks away from Portage Bay in Seattle and have always had some sort of watercraft. As a kid it was rafts and rowboats, a cheesy hydroplane that I hit a tree with and sold for $25, rental canoes from the UW, whatever I could get my hands on. About 1975 while working in the outdoor retail industry I was introduced to a whitewater kayak but I had competing priorities at the time. I had access to free rental and demo sea kayaks so I paddled quite a lot in local waters and thought myself to be quite the accomplished paddler.

Then I attended a sea kayak symposium in the late ‘80’s and met Ed Gillet, Audrey Sutherland, Randel Washburn, Eric Soares, and the usual PNW manufacturers of the day, people who blew my mind with what they were doing. I came to conclusion that I was probably not so accomplished after all and whatever hopes I had of not being a total dumbass were dashed by Mike Neckar who always called them as he saw them.

At that time I could either have two hang gliders in my hallway or one kayak. I still had competing priorities and so far hadn’t been called out for being a dumbass when I flew so-o-o-o. Eventually I moved into a house and had room for both so I ended up with a garage full of hang gliders and a yard full of SOT’s. I still had access to free rentals and demos but my addiction to flight kept my paddling skills from progressing.

My teenage daughter paddled with me but everything I had was too large for her so I built her an Arctic Tern 14. In short order paddling with Dad wasn’t on her list of cool things to do so my wife claimed the Tern 14 and I built a Coho. It was with the Coho that I started kayak camping and the Tern 14 that I started surfing.

Since that time I’ve had a number of touring and day boats and as the years slip by I find that weight and handling have become more and more important to me.

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It was an upper body work-out to balance out all the cycling I did. After about 30 years its now 50% work out, 50% mellow paddle to relax and enjoy the water, dolphins, osprey, etc.

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In 60 years, I went from aluminum to fiberglass and kevlar. I gave up flat water mostly for river trips. I found a cedar and canvas OT Guide 18. I learned to repair boats as a necessity.

Then I became interested in rafting. Now I have a drift boat, with an outboard for lakes. It is easy to move around in, carries a load, handles rough weather and I can bring a bunch of dogs or kids. At 70 canoes are losing their allure. My balance is not as good. They have limited carrying capacity.

We grew up on Chesapeake Bay. We had no air conditioning in those days and spent four out of five weekends sleeping on the boat. I moved West 50 years ago. My Dad always had big power boats and my uncle always had a big sailboat around Seattle. I got back into canoes around 1980, and have run lots of rivers. In the 1990s it was rafting. Now I like a drift boat which is a sports car on the water. I like to float rivers in No CA and OR mostly.

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I spent summers on a lake growing up so shoes weren’t worn much and boats of all types were used daily. Then duck/goose hunting in an alum canoe. In college I could only afford a coleman canoe for daytripping, camping and exploring. It also cured me of my apprehension of deep water as I’d paddle out into deep water, throw the paddle over then swamp it. Swim around a bit, then right it, toss the paddle back in, then climb back in.
40 years later, medically retired, so I have a motorboat…but, Ihave a discovery 119 that I really like for fishing, exploring, paddling with wife and friends. I also have a bagged WW canoe that I’ll be using for faster rivers. That’s a compromise for my age and injuries–I’ll go with the flow. I’m also going to figure out using that for overnight camping trips.

So what has it all given me? Water Is Life. The more water I’m around, the happier I am. I have no fear of drowning as I am very comfortable in it. The canoes are just a vessel that accompanies me.

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Of course it started in a row boat, moved to canoes, zipped around the lake on skis, luffed into sailboats and building, then migrated to HI sailing, then family and back to reality. But pedaled down the road on the Trek, to the shooting range to end up back at the water with a fishing rod and boat. And morphed into kayaking and building.

We’ve paddled in the swamps, in the rivers, in the springs, in the mountains, in the great lakes and the ocean.

And… I got older.


I thought tracking was the thing to have at first. Now I prefer a boat that turns easily. Started with euro blades then fell in love with the GP. Also started out with a rudder and found out I prefer a skeg.

ch ch ch changes.

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Since I took up kayaking over 20 yrs ago, a lot has changed. Some of the changes are pretty common.

For example, I started with an Old Town Castine, a rec kayak. Soon sold it and got the first of several sea kayaks. Along the way, I went from day paddling with an interest in short kayak-camping trips to long trips. Took lessons from a bunch of instructors/coaches (well worth the expense and time to do). Got my roll solid on both sides, plus the usual range of maneuvering and boat control techniques, which I enjoyed learning and practicing. Learned navigation, branching into a whole suite of outdoor interests (weather, birding, stargazing, knots…probably more, all of which enrich other parts of my life beyond paddling).

More recently, I realized I was no longer likely to go kayak camping, due to logistical hassles around here, not to mention lack of WATER, period, during so many drought years. I also felt a desire to return more to the fitness emphasis of my long-ago cycling years. So I now paddle a surf ski. Sold my last sea kayak last year and will probably sell the little whitewater kayak that I have not paddled IN whitewater since moving out of the CO Front Range. It’s made a fine vessel for puttering around in shallow, narrow arms where birds are and almost zero other people, but I never really liked the ergonomics of sit-ins that much anyway. The surf ski position feels better and I like the minimalism (no skirt, no pump, etc).

For puttering, I’d love to get a plastic, narrow, short, SOT, sort of like one that we rented a few years ago but narrower. Something that can just be carried in the back of my truck bed, diagonally, for spur-of-the-moment times and getting to places not well suited for long fragile kayaks. A very long time ago I briefly paddled an OK Kea. I was probably just over its recommended paddler size range, but I could still use it.

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Check out the RTM Disco.

I’ve always loved being on the water in boats of any kind since I was a kid. Still do, but canoes are definitely my favorite. Thing is, I didn’t buy my first canoe until I was in my 30’s. It was a well used Bluehole OCA tandem whitewater canoe that I set up to paddle solo. I wanted a whitewater boat because I was living near some great whitewater rivers in Washington State and many of my friends were running rapids and convinced me to give it a try. Why a canoe and not a kayak? Because I had grown up in New England and my boating friends all had whitewater canoes; that’s what you paddled. But in Washington, whitewater canoeists are a distinct minority so I mainly paddled with kayakers and rafters. I ended up enjoying whitewater canoeing so much I bought a nice solo whitewater canoe.

And that was the beginning of a paddling journey that included (at one time or another) two tandem expedition canoes (one for whitewater, one for big water), a solo big water canoe, a solo fast cruising canoe, a solo sport canoe, a solo tripping canoe, and recently a tandem tripping canoe. They’re all designed for an intended use but each canoe is a lot of fun to paddle in its own way.

My life has certainly changed since I bought my first canoe but throughout that journey I’ve kept my love of canoeing alive and well. During some lean years I would have canoes on my roof rack that were worth far more than the car I was driving. It’s about priorities I guess. Looking forward to the rest of the journey. :slight_smile:


I’ll Play. My journey and the craft I remember of the top of my head.
Boy Scouts -Grumman Canoes
My Uncles’ Fiberglass Canoe
Smokercraft Aluminum Canoe - kept, stored in our barn in Utah
Hobbie Oddysey Tandem Kayak - Sold
Original Heritage Seadart - Kept
Couple of “real” seakayaks - sold
Ocean Kayak Frenzy - kept for guests
Cobra Strike Surf Kayak - kept for sons’ girlfriends/wives
Mako Surf Kayak -sold
Wavemaster Stabilizer Comp Waveski - sold
Necky Jive Whitewater Kayak - stored in Utah for rivers .
Island High Performance Waveski - kept for sons
Wavemaster Strata - Kept for son
Aquarius Surf kayak - Sold
Original Infinity Waveski -Kept for guests. " Ugly Betty", used by several guest Pnetters.
Custom Infinity Stinger Waveski - Currently Most Used
Walden Magic Model Longboard - doesn’t get much use except in the summer.
Epoxy Laird Pearson Arrow SUP - Kept for small surf days
Focus Carbon Torpedo SUP - Second most used lately.

For some the journey is about the equipment. For some it is about the experiences.
For others it is about the videos and photos. Still others remember the fish or the wildlife.
They remember the friends and companions, the boat dogs and the people along the way.
They remember the rivers, the lakes and the reservoirs.
My hope for you is that on your journey you learn to appreciate all of these things.