Sunday, August 20, 2006

There's more than one way
to skin anything
(or, how I met Tim)

Yesterday, after a nice paddle with one of the gals from the Milwaukee group, we headed into South Shore launch area for lunch. I wasn't sure at first, but I thought I saw a guy landing a Kleper (folding) kayak. I think it was the color that made me think that because, as I got closer it became evident that this was no ordinary kayak and most certainly not a contemporary design.

As he stepped out of his boat, we glided up, and I asked him what it was that he was paddling. He told me he had built what was, in essence, a skin on frame boat. At first it wouldn't stay upright, he explained, until he flattened the bottom. He had worked with no plans.

He'd used canvas but not oil paint. The stringers were on the thin side, and he had broken some when he first used the boat. That problems was solved with some foam blocks in the cockpit.

It immediately occured to me that he had an intringing vessels and that he was a very nice guy. I asked if I could paddle it. I could. I had a ball. It made those racing sit-on-top-thong-things seem stable. I made one half forward-half bracing stroke after another before finally tipping over. It was hard to empty since it held about 4 tons of water when full. I loved it. Pure fun. And I admired a young man who wanted to be on water enough to make such a contraption.

This man, I thought, should be a sea kayaker. He already had met Sheri, so he knew what kayaks were. We explained the first and second stability thing to him and, then, put him in Diane's boat. I wish you all could have seen the look of pleasure and discovery on his face as he paddled around just off the beach. And, he looked like a natural.

I hope he gets a regular boat. I hope he visits us on Sundays when we paddle. I hope he gets to meet Greg who, I am guessing, will turn out to be a Rube-Goldberg soul mate. I hope he paddles safely.

Paddle safe


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