Earlier this week, I passed my 5 year anniversary as a paid member of Oru Kayak. I use the term “paid” loosely. The first few paychecks were pretty humble. Well, this auspicious anniversary had me thinking back to my earliest days and my first time in an Oru Kayak.
I was in the midst of writing my dissertation in San Diego, and just starting the grueling job search, when someone shared an origami kayak with me through Facebook. I reached out to Ardy and Anton to see if they needed any help. I was headed to the Bay Area and figured I could make some industry introductions or offer product advice.
I decided to show up at a demo event they were hosting in Jack London Square. When I arrived, I saw Anton standing in the middle of the brick square, quietly directing people to the docks to try the Oru Kayak. He had a box with an orange lid next to him. He seemed to be protecting it like someone might steal it. I would later learn that that kayak was only a demo sample, and not quite ready for the water, so he didn’t want people to try and use it yet.
On the dock, I saw about 15 people staring at a little white kayak. The floating docks could barely hold the weight of the onlookers. It didn’t really look like anyone was helping people in and out of the boats, but someone was handing out life jackets and paddles. I put myself through grad school as a paddling instructor, so I stepped in and helped people in and out of the boat as they each tried it. Some people were big, some were small, some were old, and some were young, but they were all very excited about the kayak.
I waited until the crowd had their turn trying the kayak, then I hopped in. I was really impressed! It handled well and was really fun!
Like everyone else, I stuck around to see how the boat folded back into the little box and was pretty amazed with what I had just seen.
My first time in an Oru Kayak was not terribly eventful, but the second time I paddled one, I surfed Fort Point, under the Golden Gate Bridge :).
I’d love to hear your first experiences in an Oru Kayak. Feel free to share them in the comments section below.
It is not everyday that we get to take a look into the mind of a designer at Oru Kayak, but Stefania sent me an email the other day and I felt that the Oru Kayak Community needed to hear her wonderful thoughts.
For me Oru Kayak is more than a product. It is the reminder of unfolding possibilities.
It is the clever and magical transformation of a flat sheet into a vessel. It is simple but precise. It melds the patient geometric lines of origami with the fluid forms of the boat. It opens up dreams and opportunities.
It merges different technologies, materials, perspectives, and ways of creating in the world. Our team strives to make something so special that people want to be surrounded by it, even outside of the water.
Oru Kayak has lots of flavors. It is adrenaline, grounding and soothing. It is fun and meditative. It builds community and self-assurance. The people at Oru are friends that share the mission of inspiring people to explore new ways to connect with nature, each other and themselves.
It is a surprising tool that celebrates playfulness. It is unexpected and up-lifting. Allows you to escape preconceptions and enlivens the spirit.
Hope to see you on the water soon!
10.15.17 First documented kayaks on Tumbledown.
Have you ever had a lofty dream? The kind people might laugh or scoff at? The kind of quest where people ask you why? Why do you want to do that? They hesitantly nod as you explain but don’t quite get it?
The right answer is because firsts aren’t reserved for mountaineers and professional athletes. Because sometimes when you think outside the box you, yes you, can do something a little extra-ordinary.
I’ve summited Tumbledown several times since moving to Maine four years ago and when I got my Oru Kayaks this spring a spark was ignited. Could we carry these foldable boats up to the pond? It was three miles up a rocky trail that got a bit technical towards the top. The boats weren’t that heavy I told myself, and we could get the backpacks for them. We could make it happen, and better yet we could make it happen during peak foliage when the leaves on the trees were bright yellow and red.
Over the course of the summer, I gathered my strongest, bravest, most enthusiastic, type-two-fun-seeking friends and we set off to be the first documented full-length kayaks paddling on Tumbledown. The energy that morning was buzzing as we made pancakes by the fire and prepared for our big ascent. We were teachers, social workers, photographers, guides, and coast guardsmen, and none of us had done anything like this before. The furthest I had carried one of my boats was the 20-40 meters from the car to the shore of a body of water.
We drove to the trailhead, strapped up and headed up the mountain. We took turns carrying the boats, their weight and bulk making them a bit cumbersome but nothing my team of champions couldn’t handle. We scaled rocks, ate snacks and affirmed every question we got about “what are those, what are you doing?” with “Yes, these really are kayaks and yes, we are going to paddle them on the pond”. “Yes really.” We made it to the pond and unfolded the boats in a spot I had backpacked when I had the idea six months prior, ate a few snacks and drank some coffee and my friends insisted I paddle a lap to truly be the first on the water before heading to the summit of the mountain for the photo I’d been dreaming of and it was one of the best and shortest paddles I’ve ever been on. As I paddled around the corner to where the rocks where most people have their lunches I heard a buzzing of conversations rising as people noticed us in our boats. I laughed and paddled around the island before heading back to give the others a chance to try. I grabbed my friend Stephen and we headed to the true summit of the mountain to photograph the boats on the pond.
After another mile or so uphill we crested the summit and my eyes undeniable welled up as I shouted and yelled and jumped around enough to make Stephen nervous, it’s a pretty far drop off from the top to the pond. There were my pretty little white boats paddling in circles across the water, and there were the yellow trees just past peak almost as I’d imagined.
To my friends, thank you for supporting my wild dream of photographing these pretty white boats on this pond during peak foliage, and to you sitting reading this right now I hope it inspired you to take your Oru Kayak somewhere a bit unexpected. Maybe you too can be the first!
Venturing into the highlands often leads to new discovery. Whether it be discovering landscapes for the first time or experiencing new emotions, these trips often leave us with memories that we’ll hold close forever. With the Oru’s on board, we set out on a mission to find new highland lakes. Places that we'd heard about but never managed to find on previous adventures.View full article →
A solitary lobster fisherman loading his pots was the only sign of life, as I put in from the rickety dock at sunrise. Pointed straight into the offshore breeze in my white kayak at close to 6am, I felt like a daytime ninja paddling into the milky whiteness.View full article →