City kayaking: exploration, serenity, and gossip
In my never ending quest of connecting my city-self to the natural environment Vancouver offers, I embarked on yet another oceanic adventure last week- in a kayak.
Before the tour, and out of curiosity, I looked up the history of kayaking. Did you know that in Canada sea kayaks can be dated to at least 5,000 years ago? According to Craig Dawber’s The Interesting History of Kayaks and the Sport of Kayaking, the first kayaks were created by arctic inhabitants now known as the Inuits. The kayak fames were made using driftwood and early kayaks were wrapped in sealskins. Dawber wrote that early kayaks were used primarily for hunting and fishing, and the word “kayak” literally means “hunter’s boat.” At the time, kayaks were made with air-filled seal bladders, making them virtually unsinkable.
With that knowledge in mind, I was more encouraged to use the self-propelled vessel – knowing it has probably evolved to the safest possible standards! I have (barely) kayaked once before in a double kayak in Tofino. It was extremely rainy at the time, so I found it difficult to concentrate on the experience and I sat in the front…And for those who have never kayaked, sitting in the front is a lot less work!
For this city kayaking expedition, I brought along another city girl who has never kayaked before. Because of my previous “experience”, my friend Katie decided she will sit in the front while I do the work. We joined a two-hour paddle with Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre and departed from Jericho Beach. Prior to departing, we left our entire lives (iPhones) in the kayak shack. Our very informative guides instructed us -beginners -on how to use the paddles and how to maneuver the kayak. They compared using the foot pedals and paddle to driving, in which most people nodded in understanding. Katie and I looked more confused than ever- neither of us has a driver’s license (yes, yes… we know).
But without hesitation and ready for an adventure, we happily entered our kayaks and were soon off on our “taste of kayaking” tour. Although our paddling didn’t seem to take us far for the first few minutes, we tried to paddle in sync, and we actually started to move. To my surprise, I was actually pretty good at using the foot pedals to turn when needed (and I thought, maybe I am ready for that driver’s license?). As we paddled on that cloudy Vancouver evening, we found ourselves multi-tasking: gossiping and perfecting our paddles.
During the first leg of the tour, we had fallen in love with the sport.
We paddled by a few seals, who adorably pop their head up, and got a peak of a Blue Heron sitting on a rock (without disturbing it). The water at Jericho Beach was like glass that night, so clear, not a wave in sight, and perfect for beginner paddling. And whenever we slowed down or felt too tired to paddle, the fantastic guides were there to keep us up and cheer us on.
By the end of the tour, we had finished our gossip session and realized, not only is kayaking a fantastic arm workout, it was a great way to spend a relaxing evening on the water with your girl friend and get caught up on weekly gossip!
I got my feet wet, left my entire life (iPhone) behind, got a taste of city kayaking, and now I want more.
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