We got the family kayaks over the winter. I’ve been wanting to go on the water since November but since this was going to be the first time that we used this type of kayak, I had to assume that one or more of the kids and maybe an adult or two would end up in the water under their boat. Going when both water and air were barely above freezing level, didn’t seem to make sense. According to the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturer’s Association – the PFDMA for those in the know – hypothermia doesn’t set in for over an hour in 50 degree water for most adults and I am insulated better than most adults. Long enough to pull a couple of kids out of the drink I figured. Finally, the day came when water and air were both slightly above fifty degrees and the forecasted lightening would hold off for another day. It was time. Maya, Sam and I grabbed the kayaks and headed toward the reservoir.
We got inflatable kayaks. The mental images of my family trying to put fixed sided kayaks in racks on top of the van were, at best, comedic. Everyone once in awhile, I choose not to go for what would be funniest over what would be most practical. Luckily, this was one of those times. Maya grabbed one kayak and I the other and we started inflating. Sam, well Sam played a supporting role. We had some miss starts as we couldn’t final all of the valves at first and our first attempt ended up with the seats in backwards but we got it. The kayaks are part of my effort to work more enjoyable exercise into my life. Maya summed it up perfectly that getting the kayaks inflated could be my work out. Maya and I, a bit winded and already a little sweating were finally ready, although we never quite figured out Maya’s seat. Sam, well Sam was patient.
With winter coats under our life vests – it really was cold on the water – we started off. Maya is so light and the skegs – the rudder like things on the bottom of the boat to give stability and control (see, you learned something from this post) on her kayak were so small that each time she paddled, her kayak turned half a circle the opposite way. In a who-can-turn-the-fastest contest, she would have taken gold. In a standard moving forward type contest, not so much. Instead of become frustrated, well there was a little of that, she kept on paddling with what she described as a comedic paddling effort.
We didn’t count on how wet were were going to get. There was the water from what I was told was accidental splashing. There was water from a little bit of rain. There was water from every time you dip one side of the double sided kayak paddle in the water, the other side, also known as the side that just came out of the water on the other side of the kayak, is straight up over the kayak. Efficient having that double paddle thing but water just kept coming in. Sam and I shared a kayak and I’m a bit bigger than him so his side of the kayak was a bit higher than mine was. By a bit heavier, I mean I’m three times his side and by a bit higher, I mean his bottom was a good six inches higher than mine was. Water, I learned, always goes down hill. Slightly warmer than 50 degree water started accumulating where slightly warmer than 50 degree water should not accumulate.
After awhile, it wasn’t just my cheeks on the bottom of the kayak in the water. Pretty soon, everything was underwater. The kayak was still inflated, so I wasn’t afraid of us sinking but I couldn’t figure out where all the water was coming from. Sam and Maya tried helping by splashing out the Daddy Soup. With all of their splashing, I was sure that at least some of the water should have been going over the sides of the kayak and into the lake but I was still marinating in slightly above fifty degree water. By the time the water had started approaching Sam’s bottom, six inches higher than mine, I figured we should get to shore. With many comical half-circling paddling from Maya and Daddy Soup splashing from Sam and a lot of laughter from all three of us, we made it back alive. You are reading this, so I didn’t think that part would be much of a surprise.
On shore, we learned that the manufacturer had put in a clever little valve to help you drain the water from the bottom of the kayak. Of course, if you happen to have the valve open when you go into the water instead of going into the land, you do the opposite of draining water out. Namely, you let in a lot of slightly warmer than 50 degree water. We were soaked but laughing a lot.
I was very proud of my kids then. Maya could have been upset by her paddling but instead labeled it comedic paddling and did the best she could. All of us could have been upset by the cold or the rain or the clever little valve in the bottom of the kayak but instead we chose to laugh and focus on the stories. My bottom was still a little numb but we were already telling of our great – and cold – adventure.
We can choose to focus on the negatives or we can choose to focus on the laughter and the stories we will tell. Our experiences are greatly affected by what we chose to focus on. What we experience may be out of our hands but how we experience it is up to us. Choose wisely.