All we wanted, my wife and I, was to while away some summer afternoons on a lake or a river, paddling along, far from our worldly cares and COVID and cats. We just wanted a couple of kayaks.
Who knew it would be so complicated?
After talking for years about getting kayaks, this summer Deb and I decided to do it, a little pandemic treat for ourselves. Naturally, we did some research: 10-foot, 8-foot, sit-in, sit-on, inflatable, recreational, solo, tandem. That was pretty much the extent of our research: learning the different types. I did know enough about kayaks, though, not to opt for the two-person model, commonly known as “divorce boats.”
We settled on reasonably priced 10-foot sit-on models that were available at our local Canadian Tire. We drove in, looked over the model propped against the wall and thought, “Yes, this will do.”
Okay: how do we get it home?
You see, owning a kayak is not just owning a kayak. It is also transporting a kayak. In some instances, you can throw a kayak on top of your vehicle with simple foam and straps. Not so with two kayaks; kayaks don’t stack.
To the car racks we go!
Luckily we found a reasonably priced two-kayak carrier right there in the store, and we didn’t even have to ask one of the Canadian Tire clerks, who tend to respond to requests like you’re inviting them to participate in the Baatan Death March.
All we needed was the roof rack to hold the carrier, but they didn’t have the right model in stock. Oh well, we’d order one at home. We grabbed the carrier and warily approached a clerk, who assured us there were plenty of that model kayak in stock. We would come back another day.
Research at home, however, revealed that there was no roof rack available that would fit both our car and the kayak carrier we purchased.
“We’ll just get the kayaks and worry about the carrier later,” we said, and went back to Canadian Tire a week or two later to return the kayak carrier and buy our kayaks. We thought we’d, you know, just shove them in the back of the Elantra and drive them down the 55 with 4 feet of stern sticking out the hatch. We had bungee cords.
“We’re sold out,” said the clerk, not too choked up about it.
We drove home, kayakless.
We checked the Canadian Tire in Sherbrooke – nothing – and stopped at an actual sports store where there were kayaks at prices that may have required 20-year mortgages.
The weeks went by and we continued to ponder A) getting kayaks and B) transporting kayaks. Should we buy a pickup? Then we could just throw the kayaks in the back of the pickup. They’d still be sticking out, though. Is that allowed? Do pickups have rules? If TV ads have taught me anything, it’s that pickups don’t have rules.
As for problem A), Deb came home one day and said, “I ordered kayaks.” “From where?” “Amazon.” “Amazon delivers kayaks?” “Apparently.”
I felt we were living a very COVID moment.
Last Friday, the kayaks arrived (style: sit-in; colour: blue; model: pretty). Now to use them. We thought maybe we could, you know, just shove them in the back of our Elantra and drive them out to the lake with 4 feet of stern sticking out the hatch. We had bungees. And rope!
But then our friend Steve offered to lend us his van while his family was away. With only one foot of stern sticking out the back, we were golden!
Oh yeah: paddles.
Sunday morning, we hustled back to Canadian Tire to pick some paddles from the Wall of Paddles. We knew right where they were from the last time we were there not buying a kayak. But the Wall of Paddles was blank. The good news, though, is the new toboggans are in! Also, kayaks were back in stock.
I asked a clerk if there were any more paddles. (I felt terrible disturbing him from his busy task of moping.) He led me to the end of an aisle where he dismissively pointed to a small rack of oars like he was showing me the Employee of the Month display where he would never, ever be.
We grabbed some of the last paddles left, hastily selected life jackets, raced home, bungeed the kayaks into the van and drove out to Cedarville only moderately worried that they might fall out. Then we paddled around Lake Memphremagog for an hour and a half before we had to go pick up our daughter from work. The summer was nearly over but finally and at long last, we were kayak owners and we had kayaked!
It was nice, I guess.