By Ben Matthews
When I get into some new activity, I’m not one to half-ass it. I like to dig deep, do my research, and learn everything I can about the activity so I won’t be a newbie from day one. That’s obviously not always the case. There’s a lot of things you just can’t learn on your own without trying them with other people and failing a couple times before you get the hang of it.
Specifically, with kayaking on open water, I did my research and learned about the tides and currents that can either make a trip easier or nearly impossible, depending on which way they’re flowing. I learned how to pack a boat the correct way for an overnight outing and had paddled a handful of times on somewhat open water and in some beautiful bays with glass-like waters. But like I said, nothing compares to just doing the dang thing. So, we did.
We set out on a voyage to Cypress Island, one of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington state. Nothing too crazy, sure there’s some open water and channel crossings, but hey, we all know how to paddle a kayak! The first half of our jaunt went by smoothly, we had made one channel crossing over some semi-choppy water with ease. Took a little break for some lunch and to check out the local sea life before making the final crossing, which didn’t go as smoothly…
We timed our trip to go out with the tide for the first half, but on the second section, we encountered a fairly strong current to deal with. We paddled. And paddled. If you quit paddling, you’d slowly float in the opposite direction than you wanted to go, so we paddled on. At last, we made it to the current line and could paddle with ease for the final little bit to the small spit between Cypress Island and Cypress Head. We landed our boats, set up camp, and promptly all took naps in various places around the island. Ok, so open water paddling isn’t super easy, but the destinations you get to and the feeling of accomplishment makes it totally worth it.
With four guys on the trip (no girls allowed) we had a good time talking about guy stuff (girls), eating all the food in sight, and peeing on the fire to put it out at the end of the night. …Don’t do that. It smells bad. We also just laughed at our situation the next morning, when we woke to a non-stop drizzle that just soaked everything in sight. We made our breakfast of oatmeal and bacon, shoveled the somewhat soggy bacon into our mouths and started packing all the wet stuff up for the journey back to the car. The voyage back was pretty similar to the day before where the first half was nice and easy, and the second half, not so much. But we made it back with pruney fingers and wet bodies, unpacked the boats, folded them up, and put them and ourselves all into one truck. Yes, that’s four soggy boats, four soggy boys, and a whole lot of soggy gear into one Toyota Tacoma. Not bad. Not bad at all.
But the point is, I’m not an expert paddler, or even a good paddler. But I like to try something I’m not good at, fail, learn from my failure, and try it again! Get back on that horse (or kayak) and ride!