The Charleston Kayak Meetup Group Message Board › Hooked (a story by Ryann)
I have become more interested in kayaking lately. The Folly River tour trips gave me such a great experience outside in the water, close up to nature and meeting new people that I wanted to learn how to do more as a paddler.
“Hey Mary Ross, Ryann said her Cowboy is better than yours!” one of the guides said on one such tour.
I was pretty impressed he even remembered my name.
“Nope, didn’t say it, I don’t even know any Cowboys.”
“Them's fightin’ words,” Mary Ross said and proceeded to undo her legs from within the kayak and slip right into the river water.
I slowed my kayak to a stop and came very close to bumper boating my neighbor. Then Mary Ross did some sort of wriggling and graceful wrangling and viola, she was back in her kayak within just a few minutes. It was really cool to watch. She knew what she was doing and did it well. I loved seeing the confidence and poise on what felt to me like a very wobbly little boat.
After the next three-hour Folly tour, I was pleased with my increased ability to control my boat. There was a ‘click’ physically when I could feel that the foam rubber knee pads were meant to fully embrace the upper thighs to the point where I could wiggle my hips and maneuver the boat all the while feeling balanced. This is the moment the mental ‘click’ happened.
So often we set for ourselves a resolution to become a more balanced person. We strive to balance work, play, family, charity, and friends and miraculously get into better shape. By scheduling these tours for myself, I was making a major step toward actualizing that balance. It felt better than good to be on the water; it felt like the balance I’ve longed for.
A fellow kayaker, new to the sport, fell out of her boat, this time accidently, and it became quickly apparent that she would not be ‘cowboying’ back up. I had confidence that the guides would help her, but since I was close, I held on to her boat and she did too. In the blink of an eye, the guide was there and began to coach the two of us through the assisted rescue. As an ex-Coastie and high-level instructor, Scott could have stepped in and taken over, which is what she and I expected, but instead he started telling her and I how to do it ourselves.
I got the boat into a T with mine and was told to easily roll it over to dump the water out. This was easier than it sounded. I didn’t trust that the farthest end would sit on top of the water, but how about that? It did! I then pulled the kayak parallel to mine but facing the opposite direction in order to get her back in.
“No your other left hand; put it on the back of your boat; your boat; your left hand; uh huh; but on your boat. There ya go," Scott called to the two of us. Repeating and repeating, how ever many times it took.
She was back in her kayak in no time and the tour continued. I remembered that I had liked being a lifeguard many moons ago in college. It felt good to do something really worthwhile with my morning. I didn’t want the tour to end, so afterwards I asked if I could help wash the boats. The guides were patient to no end and allowed me to help. They asked about my experience and shared theirs with me.
For my next venture out, they repaid my boat washing by letting me use a higher end kayak. This was analogous to driving a Ferrari on your fourth time ever driving. My mind said, “me like!” The boat was smoother, tighter to me and easier to paddle. I found myself happy to lag behind the group so that I could speed up to catch the tour.
Oh, and the dolphins. On every trip I saw them beautifully coming up for air, arching over the water, leading (?) their dorsal fin for a few fleeting seconds. The real treat was to see a mom and her baby swimming so close together. You think to yourself, ‘that baby has the whole river to explore, but there it is, practically nestled up to its mom.’
Also on this trip, one of the guides, Don, told me he had a personal goal to “roll” 20 times without his nose plug. I didn’t know what he meant and told him that this information was way too personal since we’d only met a few weeks before. He insisted it was perfectly fine for me to watch him roll and roll he did. I’m not sure if he got up to the full 20, but not for lack of trying. He put his paddle down on the water, capsized himself and poof, there he was rolling back up on the other side. He wasn’t winded, dazed, or confused. It was a strange and cool thing to watch.
The other guide, Ashley, not wanting to be outdone, started to match him roll for roll. Truth be told, hers was more graceful. She seemed to arch her back and came up with her head on the back of the kayak. I had no intention of doing it, but I liked seeing it; sort of like watching Olympic ice skating. I made a mental note, must have something to do with the wet suit material skirts. I’m not sure the other touring peeps were as impressed as I was. But in all fairness it was a gorgeous day out on the marsh and there are one million magnificent natural things to look at other than the rolling guides.