By VINCENT WEAFER
Well everyone’s sacred ratio is different but my sacred ratio for kayaking is:
paddling time (bum in kayak seat actually paddling/sailing/surfing/rolling)
all the other logistical stuff to get you there.
I estimate my paddling/logistics ratio is currently a (perhaps optimistic) 2:1.
I’m not putting a stopwatch with a time and motion study on everything I do which is related to kayaking, but the more efficiently I do the logistics, the more time I have to paddle… or other fun stuff like watching my kid’s soccer games.
The logistical stuff is huge and all encompassing.
It includes checking and packing all the gear, checking and loading the boat, consulting weather and possibly maps (GPS), liaising with paddling partners, driving to paddling destination (avoiding peak hour), unloading boat, dressing in paddling gear, boat adjustments (hatches, rigging etc), packing stuff like food, water, electronica (don’t forget the spare batteries) into the boat or PFD, carrying it all to the water, skirt and paddle leash on… paddling time… ahhhh (how sweet it is)… and do it all in reverse at the end of the paddle… do we need a debrief?… don’t forget the freshwater rinse and hanging up gear, storing the kayak… and the muesli bar wrappers in the day hatch.
Should the logistical stuff include researching, discussing, trying out, deciding on techniques… and also, for paddling gear and boats, purchasing (and possibly re-selling further down the track)? Should it include outfitting, repairing and maintaining gear and boats? Or is this fun? Would you be doing it, if you had no intention to paddle? I haven’t met a non-paddler obsessed by kayaks/paddling gear/gadgets yet, but I’m sure they are out there in the wild somewhere.
We can address the paddling time part of the sacred ratio easily – go on more frequent, longer paddles, paddle around that one more headland, catch that one more wave, do an extra circuit.
How can we reduce the logistics part of the sacred ratio?
We all sub-consciously become more efficient in the logistics; it may be hard to remember yourself as a beginning paddler, but try surreptitiously observing how long it takes a newbie to get his/her kayak on water with bum in seat.
If we consciously think about each little step and how we could delete or modify it to save time, even a few seconds, this, multiplied by the number of future paddles, can accumulate to a considerable time saving.
Here are some of the logistical steps I have changed over the years in no particular order. I’m not saying this will be right for you, but perhaps it will stimulate a small time saving of your own.
Get in the habit of paddling at least once a week: the logistical steps become automatic, gear doesn’t quietly rot in storage, you are less likely to be caught out with the wrong gear with the change in seasons, and no instances of “now where did I put that paddle?”
Have all your kayak gear in one place: I hang up all my wet paddling gear (including booties hanging in cable tie loops) in the one and same place, and pack the dry gear into the one and same box. Paddling gear should only be used for paddling, a paddling friend once turned up with his wife’s (too small) booties.
Storing the kayak: I used to hang up my kayak on pulleys, it was an engineering wonder of the world, but also very time consuming. Now my kayak rests on old cushions on its gunwale, it’s plastic (the gunwale and also the rest of the kayak). My hatch covers and paddle all lie on top of the kayak and my sail hangs nearby so I don’t forget them.
Transporting the kayak: in the past I used a trailer but ‘lost’ too much time hitching and unhitching the trailer. Now I use roof racks with kayak cradles and ‘just the right length’ webbing straps staying on top of the old Corolla (with or without kayak). There is a ‘hit’ from UV degradation but it saves a lot of time. I wash down the car, straps and cradles when I’m washing down my boat and rinsing the gear.
Combining trips: my son is very understanding when I drive him to soccer with my kayak on top of the car, saying I may be a little late for his pick up after the game… how many kid’s soccer games must a kayaking parent endure?
Now – I might just squeeze in another quick paddle!