Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kayaking.. The Perfect New Sport!

I've been in Florida two months now, time really is moving along. Haven't had any time to be bored for more than a few hours, so I thought I better get busy making sure I have very few opportunities to feel like I have nothing to do.

I've been thinking about a couple ideas for months now that will return my freedom to wander in a cost effective manner. Having lived most of my life in the land of 10,000 lakes (Minnesota), water related activities have always been a draw.

I just didn't want to bother with a larger boat, and motor.  Maintenance and purchase price being more than I wanted to deal with. I've had canoes in the past, but even they can be weighty and cumbersome for the single individual unless you invest more money than I felt comfortable with.

Fishing has never been a key focus in my recreational activities, but I didn't want to completely rule it out either. Florida allows old farts like myself (at least in a few more months) to fish without a fishing license.  By fall when I turn 65 that's another option I plan to take advantage of.

The answer, for me at least, was a kayak. For a few hundred dollars I have a boat I can carry with one hand like a heavy suitcase. Toss it on the roof of my Jeep with a few straps and I'm ready to head out. Zero maintenance, no license required, I can leisurely enjoy secluded water ways with little effort or cost on a spur of the moment schedule, perfect!

This morning my new watercraft made it's maiden voyage. I loaded up and drove 10 miles down the road to a local park that is the perfect place for a newbie to test his abilities and flexibility...  Now that was a sight to see. After back surgery 15 years ago, flexibility is a long gone thing of the past.

I was still able to drop my stiff old bones into the kayak without falling into the water. Once seated, I was snug as a bug and quite comfortable. I felt a bit wobbly and unstable for the first 15-20 minutes of hugging the shore line as I got my uncoordinated body working smoothly.

Before long I was getting more comfortable, and the stability issue melted away as my body understood the art of keeping my balance while seated. This is no big trick and I recommend it for everyone!

I haven't done any swimming for over 20 years, my confidence in avoiding drowning is pretty much zero. You won't see me in the water without a life preserver snugged up tight around my body.

I chose a well protected bay that had very calm water. Plenty of people around incase something happened, and at no time was I more than a block from the launching area. Not much in the way of a current to drag me too far away either . My first time out, over estimating my endurance could have been disastrous.

I was on the water about an hour. In that time I saw my first manatee, actually just his nose as he came up for air. A strange bird that stayed under water except to pop his long neck and head up for air as well. He was fishing for food along the shore. Never did see his whole body, just his neck and head when he came up for air.

I was able to paddle right up close to the many boats that are tied up to the docks around the small harbor. A number of unique and interesting craft including a couple of large sailboats that looked a bit worse for wear. The wood void of any finish had all turned grey, the hull paint peeling and looking tattered. I thought they would be good candidates for ghost ships. Other boats looked to be adequate to live aboard, and some were quite unique in shape and style.

There is a local Kayaking and Canoe club that meets every month. I plan on attending the next meeting this coming week. They go on local outings and camping outings as well. This leads into the next part of my past few days.

I made a drive yesterday to Ocala FL and placed an order for the other half of my recreation plans. My motorhome is pretty much stationary now.  Over the past year I have found that though big is comfortable for the long term RVer, getting into small out of the way places is either impossible or at the very least plenty awkward. I've had to pass up lots of interesting possibilities just because maneuverability ruled out any notion of going there.

If I'm to explore on any sort of affordable level, I needed something small, lightweight, and inexpensive to travel in. Enter the Runaway Camper Company.

Range Runner (Runaway Campers Photo)
Billed as the cheapest, most economical, but quality built RV on the market, The Runaway Camper is a very basic Travel Trailer that will allow you to have a comfortable place to sleep and carry your gear. With Teardrop Trailers in mind, this is similar in thought but without the hatch on the back for a small kitchen. I'm thinking of building a chuck wagon kitchen box to be mounted in the back of my Jeep making outdoor cooking simple and easy.

With a set of roof racks on top, I can strap the Kayak on top, and be gone for the weekend, the week, or even a month in no time.   I ordered the Range Runner model which is 6' wide and 8' long. Enough room for two to sleep with room to spare.