Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First Boat
First Wife

Last evening, I gave an intro to kayak talk at the local REI. The most frequently asked questions were concerning how to choose a new boat. Today I see that DaveO has written on that very subject. I guess it must be important. So, using my enviable talent for teaching by analogy, I offer today's advise column to the lonely (paddler). The analogy, for better or worse, is to consider the process similar to choosing your first wife.

First of all, how will you use her (the boat). Are you content with a series of calm encounters with no surprises? If so, you want a recreational model. Get one that looks okay and is easy to handle. They're cheap to own and make few demands. Just be sure you have a place to keep her during those many days when you will have nothing to do with her.

If, on the other hand, if all you want are wild encounters with lots of wet rolling around going on, you're looking at a white water, boat. You want her to be responsive (I don't know if a boat can anticipate your needs), and you want her to be able to take a lot of rough handling. You will also want to practice safe paddling. After wards, of course, you will want to gently wipe her down and give her tender loving care.

Most folks, as it turns out, are looking for something that is reliable and will take care of them in their times of need. You want to know how she is going to act in any situation, no surprises. Here, interestingly, appearance becomes important in your selection, especially the first time around. Whether you get to test drive her or not will depend on store policies. After all, the gang is going to meet her the first time you drive up with her strapped onto your car top. The guys will be checking out the lines of her hull and, whether they say so or not, they will be thinking how she would feel under them out in the waves.

The ultimate proof lies in how long you keep the damn thing. Some "out grow" their acquisitions and quickly "trade up." I, for instance, sold my original purchase after a few years. She just wasn't what I ultimately needed. Lady Linda, on the other hand, will have been in the fleet 33 years come September. Sometimes you get lucky and get the right rig on the first try.

Paddle safe...


JohnB said...

Absolutely brilliant! You're getting your edge back!!!

I would just add: "perfect" doesn't exist, compromises are important. What are you willing to live with for the overall performance?

DaveO said...

I was laughing as I read this.....great stuff. I'd like to see some female comments. Or maybe I wouldn't. Great analogies from the master of the form.

Silbs said...

Thanks guys.