Pandemic creating new generation of paddlers
The family that kayaks together stays together – sort of, at a distance – and that makes paddlesports ideal outdoor activities during any summer but especially so now amid the pandemic.
That thought struck me in particular as I recently watched a young family – Dad, Mom, and three little boys under age 10 – marching four boats down to a public launch ramp encumbered with boats and gear. It became clear, watching them, that they had done this before.
Everyone pitched in. Even the littlest little guy, maybe age 4, toted something down to the launch site. It took the crew two trips down the ramp with all their equipment, and they worked with practiced efficiency. At the launch, Mom immediately made sure the boys donned their life vests while Dad slid the boats into the stream, one at a time, and helped board the paddlers. First a large tandem craft for Mom and the youngest boy, who was a passenger not a paddler. Then each of the older ones, each of whom paddled his own craft. Then Dad with a sit-on-top boat loaded with gear.
It seemed that they were afloat and off in just five minutes or so after they had collected at the launch, such was their military precision. This clearly was not their first rodeo. I shouted them a well-wish and an “attaboy” as they floated downstream. And wished I were going with them in my own kayak.
The explosion in popularity in paddlesports is so obvious these days that you do not even need to see statistics. Kayaks of all stripes are everywhere there is water, it seems. Good manners and safe paddling, as so beautifully exhibited by my aforementioned model family, sometimes is sorely lacking. Having fun on the water does not equal bad behavior. And that is worth remembering, and saying out loud.
Not long after the little family of paddlers disappeared around a bend, I would find myself in in the stern seat of another tandem paddlecraft – a 17-foot canoe. It was a return to my paddling roots. But that is another story.