One Man…Alone


1. (Naut.) A light canoe, made of skins stretched over a frame, and usually capable of carrying but one person, who sits amidships and uses a double-bladed paddle. It is peculiar to the Eskimos and other Arctic tribes

Sunday January 5

I’ve never kayaked before today

Why not?

Well, partly because I’m from Ontario. We canoe in Ontario

I know, I know, people also kayak out East…just, no one we know

To be honest, the thought of getting into a kayak has always made me nervous. All bottled up inside that skinny little tube. And don’t even get me started on how I feel when I imagine flipping over in one (which is a distinct possibility for a man of your…um…girth)

Developed about four thousand years ago by the Inuit and Aleut people as a hunting platform, kayaks were used

“…to hunt on inland lakes, rivers and coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean, North Atlantic, Bering Sea and North Pacific oceans. These first kayaks were constructed from stitched seal or other animal skins stretched over a wood or whalebone-skeleton frame. (Western Eskimos used wood whereas the eastern Eskimos used whalebone due to the treeless landscape)”

The word “kayak” means “man’s boat” or “hunter’s boat”, and native kayaks were a personal craft, each built by the man who used it—with assistance from his wife, who sewed the skins—and closely fitting his size for maximum maneuverability. A special skin jacket, Tuilik, was then laced to the kayak, creating a waterproof seal. This enabled the Eskimo roll, to become the preferred method of regaining posture after capsizing, especially as few Eskimos could swim; their waters are too cold for a swimmer to survive for long.”

I am told that doing the Eskimo Roll is quite easy…I’ve seen it done at Skookumchuk, it’s pretty cool

That’d sure be good to know if you capsized. That’s one of the problems that I worry about today…capsizing. I can swim just fine thanks, but the waters of the Sechelt Inlet are probably really cold…

“Our water temperature year-round remains between 6 and 8 degrees Celsius (44 F) and demands the donning of thermal protection.”

…rigghht. Like I said, really cooold

So, how hard is this Eskimo Roll?

“The Greenland Inuit used several different techniques that allowed the kayak to be righted with or without a paddle, also using only one hand, or without hands at all. A survey in Greenland in 1911 found that of a total of 2,228 hunters with a kayak of their own, 867 were able to roll.”

Oh great, only 39% of hunters living in freakin Greenland at the turn of the last century could do it

Well that’s out

Now what?

I can picture myself hanging, upside down, holding my breath and waiting…patiently…until someone drifts by to cut me out of my boat (‘get out the jaws of life boys, this one’s still kickin’)

Well it’s too late to back out now. It’s 11.30am and we’ve just arrived at Pedals and Paddles. Time to man up and enter..

‘The Tube of Death’ (trademarked)

Laurie has invited a couple of friends to join us…Dennis and Mickey (her real name is Michelle but everyone calls her Mickey)

While Wendy and I greet everyone, I can see Dave busy outfitting the kayaks

Geez they look small

Laurie tells me that mine is the biggest they have. In my guestimation, it looks to be about eighteen feet long. That’s only twelve feet longer than Luke’s ‘Willow’…and he’s sailing her to Australia (seriously Benny, you need a bigger boat)

But I should be fine…right?

The boats look sleek and exciting…even sitting on the beach

Dave asks Wendle and I to sit in our kayaks. We’re going to get the Kayaking 101 intro…so listen up!

‘Sit upright, knees flexed out to the side and one foot on each rudder pedal, use your knees to balance the boat, push with your right foot to turn right and left for left, keep paddling, enter your paddle into the water around your feet and pull back with the power face to mid boat, as you pull one arm..push with the other, twist at the torso as you pull so you’re using your core musc…”

“Ahhh Dave…where are my rudder pedals?”

Once we’ve learned how to kayak, we watch as Laurie piles several tons of safety equipment on the front and back. It all looks like brand new gear…and it’s all brand new to me

“Say Laurie, what’s those things on the front?”

“A bailing pump and a towing line”

“And on the back?”

“That’s your personal floatation device” (a foam pad to cling to if you fall out)


I tighten my life vest

Getting into the boat is the operation most critical to…staying dry. Dave illustrates (and i paraphrase here)

‘Place you paddle across the back of the cockpit, with your left hand holding it against the boat and the paddle extended out to your right…to stabilize the boat. Sit onto the back of the cockpit and lean onto the paddle (to the right). Place your left foot in, then your right, find the rudder pedals, and secure your spray skirt’ (Dave did a much better job than that)

Ah yes, the spray skirt. The rubbery flap that seals the cockpit from incoming waves. Everyone else has a regulation waterproof spray skirt…except me. My neoprene allergy (hey don’t laugh…it’s an old football / war injury thing) forces me to use a nylon one which, doesn’t actually seal s–t. Although, the very fact that Dave and Laurie remembered to give me the nylon one leaves me feeling very appreciative of their genuine thoughtfulness (i’m a little verklempt)

I make it into the boat without capsizing and I’m ready to rock and ro…(hey)…right, ready to rock, no roll (knees out)

I hear Dave yelling at me to put my rudder down


Oh crap, I forgot to lower my rudder and now I can’t reach the rudder cable (which is on the boat’s hull and behind my right hip)

Luckily, I haven’t moved anywhere yet, so Dave steps into the water (in his neoprene, low tide boots) and flips down my rudder

Fantastic…now I can turn the boat

NOW I’m ready to rock. And my running shoes are still dry (bonus)

This is actually really cool. It’s low to the water…like a go-kart

Wendy’s out on the water and looking very comfortable, I must say. She has a nimble looking little craft and her posture and form should make Dave very proud

Dennis rides up next to me and reminds me to keep my hands evenly apart on my paddle and elbows at right angles (the surrender position)

“Hey Dennis, what do I do if I see a killer whale?”, I ask

“Take it’s picture”

Solid answer

We’re heading to Tuwanek Beach. It’s the beautiful beach campsite we visited when we went with Dave and Laurie on their Zodiac (October 30 Post). It’s a 3km paddle (each way) and it should take us about forty-five minutes to get there

Look, I’m really going to need both hands for this, so would you guys bugger off for a bit and let me focus on staying upright. Thanks

We’ll show you the rest of the trip in our next post

Goodnight all

Moose and Wendle


Geez, what kind of stress are dolphins under if they have to get high just to cope?!/entry/puff-puff-pass-young-dolphins-deliberately-chew-puffer-fish-to,52c1cb9a025312186cac436f


I love that movie (one man, alone…)


Photo Credits

Kayak –

Eskimo Roll –

Parts of a Kayak –

All of the kayaking pics but one – Laurie at

Sechelt Inlet Map –

Flipper With Puffer Fish –

Battleship Kayak –


2 thoughts on “One Man…Alone

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s