The Longest Day of the Year (aka Kayak Chaos)…

kayak on carrier

Yesterday, June 21st,  was the Summer Solstice… the longest day of the year.  Here in Minnesota,  the sky was the bluest it has been so far this summer.  After several weeks of torrential rains, damaging winds and flash flooding in our area,  the blue sky on the first day of Summer was more than a welcome relief… many of us were almost frantic to get the most of this one day of sunshine!

Let’s rewind back a few weeks ago.  I had decided that I really wanted a kayak so that I could hit the water in this beautiful “land of 10,000 lakes”.  Having never been in a kayak before,  I researched on-line about various kayaks and came to the conclusion that I wanted a smaller kayak… one that didn’t weigh a lot and that was shorter in length ( since I am only 5′ 2″ and my upper body strength is pathetic at best).  My awesome husband told me that he wanted to buy me a kayak for my birthday (which is today by the way) so off we went kayak shopping at our local Gander Mountain store.  One kid was incredibly helpful and as I described what I wanted… 1) to be able to kayak on the river that our second home sits on and 2) to be short enough and light enough for me to easily put on and off my Mini Cooper Countryman (yes,  I am a little Earth Hippie at heart), he looked at me and said “you can’t have both”.  I had to decide if I wanted the stability and ability to slice through the water to go upstream on a river or if I wanted a little boat that I could handle more easily but forgoing performance.

Decisions… decisions… both my husband and this kid “expert” felt strongly that I needed to get the longer boat and they both thought I should be able to lift the boat on and off my Mini since it was only 50 pounds.  Their rationale was if I got one end of the boat on the roof carrier, I could slide the other end the rest of the way on the carrier and WALA… there she would be… my kayak would be on my car and I could hit any body of water that I desired.  Their thought process made sense and even though my gut was telling me the 12 footer was going to be too much for me to handle, I went with their recommendation and away we went with this beautiful 12 foot kayak…

Fast forward again to this beautiful Summer Solstice day that we had yesterday.  I woke up early with the intention to mow the lawn, throw my kayak up on my car (since I had just had a beautiful kayak carrier installed on my Mini this past week to the tune of $700.00), and head out to a local lake to take my boat for her maiden voyage…

I decided to get the kayak up on my car before I started mowing the lawn so I could be all ready to hit the lake when I was ready.  Guess what?  The kayak was so long and heavy for me that I could not lift even one end safely onto the carrier and it slid down off of the roof… scratching the paint of my beautiful little Mini.   I decided to try a second time, thinking that I would go from the rear of the vehicle (using the rubber pads they provided with the car carrier)… didn’t work… a much bigger disaster causing deep gouges not only in the paint of my little Mini  but also in my enthusiasm and confidence.

I went about my chores for the day and tried not to think about the thousands of dollars of damage that I most likely did to my vehicle.  I tried not to think about the pain in my neck and back from twisting and catching and lifting beyond my physical capabilities.  I tried not to think that I was missing out on my dream of taking to the lake and paddling to my heart’s content… exercising my upper body and my soul.  Okay… deep inside I was ticked off!  I was mad at myself for not heeding my internal warning signals that this boat was too big to maneuver on and off a car roof.  I was mad that I did not protect my car with a blanket or cloth before trying to put the kayak up on the carrier.

As my family,  close friends and work colleagues can attest to…,  I am a determined person and not easily dissuaded away from something I believe strongly in… and I believed strongly in having a kayak that I can take to the lake by myself when I felt the urge!  So off I went and bought a “juvenile” kayak that is 8 feet long and weighs only 25#.  As long as I keep my weight under 200 pounds,  I am now good to go!  I even took it to the lake and tried it out for a brief stint last evening and remember the kid kayaking “expert” from Gander Mountain? He was right (oh yeah,  so was my hubby).  I cannot have great performance for less weight and length.  This little boat is a bit unstable so I will not be paddling furiously and racing across the water…  but for a leisurely float on a calm day, it will be perfect!

Yesterday definitely was the longest day of the year (factually and emotionally).  It was a day of great learning (not only for handling a kayak but also for life in general).

I thought I would share a few of my takeaways:

  1. Know my limits (trying to handle more weight and stress than my body could handle is not effective and can be harmful).
  2. Listen to my instincts (if it doesn’t feel right… stop).
  3. It is all a matter of choice (if presented with two or more options,  take the time to decide what is the best decision for me).
  4. Be creative (find a way to fulfill multiple needs… I now own two kayaks that I can use depending on what body of water I want to be on).

Question: Have you ever been in a situation where you did not listen to your internal voice?  What was the result?  What did you learn from it?


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