Wednesday, August 22, 2012
While I was visiting my Dad and vacationing at the Jersey Shore, I got to cross #72 off my Life List: Paddle an outrigger canoe.
I don't actually have pictures of me in the canoe since it's quite difficult to paddle and take photos at the same time (and protect your camera from water and sand!), but a few days before my maiden voyage I went down to the beach to check out the boat, observe my Dad and his paddling buddies, and of course take pictures. Dad goes paddling three mornings a week with a group of guys (and gals) who meet on the beach in the neighboring borough of Spring Lake, New Jersey. Some of the guys are retirees, while others just like to take an early morning paddle before work. Must be nice!
This is my dad:
This is the boat:
This is the guy who owns the boat:
Getting ready to launch:
And they're off!
That's Dad in the bow (front) of the boat. It's actually a four-person canoe, but they only had three paddlers that day.
They quickly disappeared from sight and were out on the ocean for a long time. So long, in fact, that I was wondering if I was going to have to call the Coast Guard! These guys are in good shape!
While they were gone, I kept myself entertained taking self-portraits and photographing the beach:
They weren't the only paddlers out that day - there were stand-up paddleboards and kayaks out, too:
Dad after a paddle. Did I mention he's 77?
A few days later, I got the chance to go out for a paddle myself. I've loved boating and water all my life, but this was the first time I'd been in a paddle-powered vessel on THE OCEAN. I've rowed racing shells and rowboats, and paddled canoes and kayaks on lakes, rivers and reservoirs. I've been on power boats, ships, and catamarans on the ocean. But paddling a canoe among waves and launching the boat off the beach through the surf? That was a definite first for me! It was a total adrenaline-rush.
And it wasn't easy. I was so focused on trying to match the technique of my experienced boatmates and not screw up, that I didn't pay much attention to the fact that we were paddling in the ocean or have the chance to really appreciate my surroundings. In fact, I think my experience rowing crew in high school put me at a disadvantage since my rowing instincts were the exact opposite of the technique used to paddle a canoe: with crew the boat moves backwards (therefore bow/stern and port/starboard are essentially reversed from the rower's perspective and the stroke of the oar through the water is also reversed) and the power of your stroke comes from your legs, whereas in the canoe it's all upper body strength (of which I have none). My post-surgical gimp legs didn't help me maneuver into and out of the boat with grace either. Those retirees sure put me to shame! Just a short paddle left me completely whipped. But it was great fun and I'd love to do it again (after I lift weights and obtain some muscles and stamina!).
1. Paddling is thrilling, tiring, and fun.
2. My arms have the strength equivalent to two pieces of wet spaghetti.
3. My dad is awesome.
4. I need to live at the beach. And be retired.
Also? Life List #72: Paddle an outrigger canoe in the Atlantic Ocean? Check!