MEC Paddlefest 2010

My Kayak
Looking across the bow of my kayak

A few weeks back I won a tickets to 2 events at MEC Paddlefest, courtesy of Karl Woll (and by his announcing the contest on twitter). Today was the big day!

I signed up for one dry-land course, “Navigation for Sea Kayakers” and one on-water course, a guided tour. I arrived, bright and early for my Navigation class, and was really looking forward to it. I’ve taken a bunch of land-based courses in the distant past, and am pretty good at guiding myself by landmarks, as I have lots of lake-and-river canoeing and kayaking experience. But I know nothing about reading tide tables, current tables, and what the various buoys all mean. But it seemed reasonable to get at least an intro to that in an hour, right? Sadly, no. Instead what I got was a 55-minute lecture on gear, why the Pleasure Craft Operator Card exam is useless, some personal reminiscences about sailing and then, crammed into the last 5 minutes, 10 slides about navigation. So it was pretty useless. But despite that disappointment I was still looking forward to my guided tour.

The West End
The West End

And I’m very happy to say that I was not disappointed at all – it was marvellous, although much, much too short. I was a little apprehensive before I started because it has been so long since I last kayaked – probably since before Liam was born. My fears were totally unfounded – it felt completely natural and I was comfortable and at home the moment I sat down in my kayak, put my skirt on, and started to paddle. All those years at summer camp kayaking, doing whitewater training and what not came back to me right away. We headed off, going east from Jericho towards the RCYC. Much like I used to do when younger, as soon as I started paddling, I sort of zoned out. The same way I do when I run – I disappear, my mind empties and there’s nothing but that beautiful repetitive motion, my breathing, the soft susurrations of the water alongside the boat. Faintly, I heard my name – just enough to bring me from my reverie. I turned around to realize I’d left the rest of the group far behind me, so I stopped paddling and had a nice rest floating out there. After they all caught up, we continued on round to look at the big houses along the water, than turned around and headed back to Jericho. We saw a sea otter diving near the RCYC pier, which was really cool. It was only about 20 feet in front of me. Then, suddenly, too soon, I was beaching at Jericho, hopping out and heading home. A great day. Thanks to everyone who made this possible!