For those who listen to TLLTS you will know that I got an inflatable kayak around the time of SELF. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for some time and even had dreams about paddling around waterways. I did some research and settled upon giving and inflatable kayak a try to see whether reality lives up to the dream. Well, it has been a month now and I must say I love it. Not only is it a great time, but I notice my moobs are shrinking very fast! Now my kids have less to poke fun at.
The first day I went out into the Chesepeake Bay proper, very close to the mouth and in sight of the Bay Bridge Tunnel. I was a quarter mile off shore and loving it. The waves were rolling but not too choppy. I paddled against the current thinking that if I started to get fatigued it would be a whole lot easier to paddle with the current back to my location. While this thinking proved to be correct there were two things I did not expect.
The first was paddling with the current is a very different feeling, that it is. Going against the current is like riding a bike in top gear. There is much more effort involved and with the water going past you actually appear to be going much faster and getting a lot farther than you really are. When you turn around and go with the current it is like shifting to a lower gear. There is far less resistance and it almost feels like you are not going anywhere. But, you are actually going a lot faster than you probably were before.
I was concerned when I turned around and it felt like I was getting no where on my path back to where I launched. So thinking I made a big mis-calculation I turned towards shore and that is when the next unexpected thing happened. About 10 yards out and a bit to my left a nice sized, trianglular dorsal fin broke the surface next to a floater. Now I have seen a lot of sharks growing up, mostly from the boats of fisherman coming in to the marina where we used to camp at Indian River Inlet, Deleware. So based upon the size of the fin I estimated the shark not too far from me was about 8 to 10 feet in length. Needless to say it produced an instant panic result that lasted for a good 5 minutes.
Shark sightings are pretty rare, shark encounters even rarer, and shark attacks: Statistically speaking I’ve a better chance getting struck by lightening. Anyway, that still was not a comforting thought. The Bay is home to a number of shark species including the infamous bull shark. Now what I saw was probably a sand shark but still, it did not temper the worry.
More than likely the shark knew I was there, probably checked me out even, but did not bother me at all. It did leave a lasting impression on me though. More than likely I figured the shark was probably feeding near a crab of bait fish trap so I figure I should probably stay away from those when rowing.
Since that day I have had the pleasure of rowing in Willoughby Spit, Northwest Branch Back River, and Harwood Mills Resevoire. The latter is fresh water and very calm. I was there for my first time today. I must say, I much prefer the bay to the resevoire and will probably prefer the open ocean to the bay when I get there.
The previous two days I went out Willoughby Spit Bay and it was extremely choppy. Storms have been blowing through and man was it a good time. Very strenuous, but a blast.
Oh and since the first day the only other sharks I have encountered have been 2 footers in Backwater. I saw three of them, and again, this was going near a crab or bait fish trap. In fact, I went right over top of one swimming perpendicular to me.
The kayak I have has been great, but being inflatable, it’s subject to punctures. I’ve had three on the bottom so far, pin hole punctures I belive were either caused by concreted boat ramps or maybe the claws of one of my cats. Not sure which. I did get two other holes near the seams where the body and seat come together. Those were a pain to patch.
The wife thinks I should get a hard shell, but that is going to cost a bit more money and require me to get a roof rack for the car. The inflatable is nice because it easily stores and transports and to inflate it takes under 5 minutes.
What I think I will look into next is getting a better paddle. The kayak came with a three piece paddle but the grip is not padded or comfortable and where it connects together has a tendency to rub against one’s thumbs making it uncomfortable.
Tomorrow it will be back out in the Chesepeake and soon I hope to hit the open ocean, maybe get to seem some purpoises! I cannot wait!