To receive a Canton Kayak Club membership card and the combination for the locks that secure the kayaks and gear, I had to complete 3 1/2 hours of training, which I did yesterday. But not as expected.
When I arrived at the training dock, it was cloudy, 52 degrees, and windy.
To start the class, our trainer had us move away from the dock into a parking area.
There were six people in the class, five of whom could have been my grandchildren. I was the ancient kayaker. Our trainer was Rick. We began at 12:30 p.m.
After we introduced ourselves, he quizzed us on the club rules and we had a Q & A discussion. It began raining, so we moved under cover, where the wind blew relentlessly. There was another class also meeting there. Here we were taught about safety, as we stood and shivered in the cold wind.
By 2:00 or so we had moved to the dock, and we’d been joined by an experienced kayaker who was there to observe the training. She also helped a lot. The blue kayak is hers. The white one in the water is Rick’s. The CKC’s kayaks are on the racks.
This dock is in Fells Point, where the city of Baltimore began with a port in 1726. The cobble stone streets and many of the original houses and other buildings remain.
Below is a view along Thames St, where the CKC has the docking station we used.
Fells Point is now a major attraction, with quirky shops, restaurants, and more bars per mile than any other place in the country. Here are some new structures that have been added to historic buildings.
Below,the building in the background on the right is the original City Pier.
Looking across the harbor you can see former factories that have been converted into office and residential developments, and some huge ships.
Rick taught us the names of all parts of the kayak and demonstrated the use of the paddle and the PFD (personal flotation device, AKA life jacket).
Please note in the shot the debris in the water. The harbor is unimaginably filthy. Nearly covered with trash and other visible and invisible stuff. Nasty.
Then it was time for us to choose a kayak, get it off the rack and into the water, and get ourselves from the dock into the kayak.
I accomplished that smoothly.
By this time, around 2:30, the sun was out, the sky was blue with puffy white clouds. It felt wonderful to be on the water, and I was paddling and maneuvering as instructed. But after 30 minutes or so, I was done in. Information overload. Too many instructions to take in and execute. Moreover, the sun was getting to me. I had left my hat in my bag. I had put my glasses with slip-in sun shields into my pocket for safe-keeping. I was tired and mentally fatigued. I told Rick I needed a time-out and I paddled into the shade near the dock.
But when Rick summoned all six of us to gather around his kayak for further instruction, I joined them, I was afraid that if I didn’t complete the training, I would not be able to use the kayaks. He told us to line up in front of him. As I approached the end of the line, the other class members were holding on to each others kayaks. I reached for the nearest kayaker’s hand and capsized—into that 50 degree filthy water. Nick had to turn my kayak over and coach me into getting back into it. I stupidly continued with the next instructions for another 20 minutes.
Soaking, sopping wet, my shoes filled with water, I tried to follow the demonstration Rick was giving me for “slicing” with my paddle. I wasn’t getting it. I knew I was beyond my limit and couldn’t absorb any more information, but I tried.
And I capsized again.
This time I had to be pulled out of the water on to the dock. I hadn’t the strength to get back into my kayak. There I stood, trembling, for the time it took to get all the kayaks back on the racks and secured, to be shown the combination lock and given the combination, then handed my membership card. I had brought a towel with me, but all I could do with it was to get some of the water off my head and to dry my glasses, which had become bent but not broken. It was 4:00 p.m.
My car was six blocks away. Another trainer offered to drive me there. I drove home (25 minutes), still drenched and dripping, still trembling, and unable to see clearly because my glasses were askew.
Even after 20 minutes in a hot shower, I was still trembling. Was it from the cold, from the shock of the experience, my “usual”tremulousness after some kinds of situations, or all of the above? I didn’t stop shaking until 7:00 p.m.
With old glasses, wrong prescription, but cheerful anyhow.
Today I am aching all over my body.
But I am no less enthusiastic about getting on to the water in a kayak—without six people around me and instructions being shouted at me. Though ancient, I’m sure I can be a kayaker.