An Unexpected Development

Two shiny, new kayaks!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

I got a text from FH Friday afternoon. The Eddyline factory up north in Burlington was having a huge clearance sale in preparation for moving to a larger space. For one day only, prices were slashed as much at 70 percent. We’ve both had our eyes on Eddyline kayaks ever since a road trip to Kayak Academy in Issaquah a few months back. I’d fallen in love with the Eddyline Sitka and have been saving up to buy one in the spring. There was no way we were going to pass up an opportunity to save a bundle on our dream kayaks! We agreed to meet up early the following morning.

FH picked me up at 6:00 a.m. Ugh! Getting up before the butt crack of dawn was hard! But, the door opened at 8:00 a.m., and it was a two-hour drive. Pre-dawn Saturday traffic was surprisingly heavy, and we pulled up to the Eddyline factory right around 8:30.

They were busy! Their parking lot was full, as was the street parking. A factory employee directed us to a parking lot across the street. As we pulled in, I overheard him mention to another employee that they were selling kayaks faster than they could get them out on the showroom floor. Damn! Prices must be good!

FH and I went in and wrote our names on the sign-in sheet. The place was a bit chaotic, so we wandered around, checking things out while waiting for an available salesperson. Everybody was in a happy mood and talkative. A couple of Sitkas were out on the showroom floor, both the LTs and the XTs, marked down from $2399 to $2099. The XT had a larger cockpit than the LT, accommodating larger paddlers, as well as those of us with mobility issues. I was familiar with the LT; I didn’t know they made a model with a bigger cockpit!

Tom helped us get an XT down off the rack and set it up on foam blocks. It fit me great! The larger cockpit made it a lot easier to get my left leg in and out, and there was plenty of room to move around. And, it weighs only 49 pounds, unlike my Inuit LiquidLogic, which weighs 65. This one would be much easier to handle. The shiny, smooth, pretty fiberglass finish was nice, too.

But, the price wasn’t really what I expected. Although it was good, it wasn’t spectacular. I had come for huge discounts, not regular discounts. These were marked down only 12.5 percent–definitely not the huge sale I was looking for.

“Can you go any lower?” I asked while FH tested a Sitka LT. Tom pulled out his inventory list. He had four listed at that price, and one had already sold. He said he would go check.

Tom came back a few minutes later and offered me a lower price. It still wasn’t low enough.

“I’ll give you [unspecified amount of money],” I said. “Can you do that?” I had just put in 56 hours of overtime at work, bringing the new website online. This kayak would be a nice reward for all those late nights and weekends.

“Let me check,” he said. He disappeared into the office again. In the meantime, FH tried out the XT. It fit him much better than the LT; he liked the extra room and wanted one, too.

Tom came back. “Yes, we can do [unspecified amount].”

FH’s jaw dropped. “See if he’ll do two at that price,” he whispered excitedly.

“How about two for [double the unspecified amount of money]? We’ll take two if you can do that price.”

Tom nodded. “Yes, we can do two, but you have to promise you won’t tell anybody how much you paid.”

Sold! That’s the deal I was looking for! We picked out two cockpit covers and some foam blocks and straps to carry them home. On the way home, we made plans to meet up the following day to test them out on Lake St. Clair.

Which brings me to today…

I met FH at his house, where the kayaks were stored. It was a beautiful, sunny day, the first time we’d seen blue skies in weeks. However, being December, it wasn’t particularly warm. I had packed my cold-weather gear: knee-high neoprene boots, neoprene gloves, and rain gear. Everything I needed to keep me dry and warm when winter kayaking.

We met up and drove to Lake St. Clair. FH was not feeling up to kayaking, but I was eager to test mine out.

We set it in the water very carefully, trying not to scratch it on any rocks on the beach. I straddled it, trying to figure out how to climb in. Every time I try a new kayak, I have to figure out the best way to get in, considering the limited range of motion in my left knee.

I scooted back and lifted my left leg in. The kayak wobbled unsettlingly. I paused a minute to try to steady it, and then started to lift my right leg in. D’oh! The kayak rolled to the left, dumping me in the lake.

I laid there flat on my back, laughing like a mad woman, submerged up to my neck. Even the back of my head was in the water. I could feel my pony tail soaking up water like a sponge. Water seeped through my waterproof pants and rain jacket and filled my boots and gloves.

It took a couple of minutes to get my laughter under control and pull myself to my feet. I was completely soaked. And thankful for that waterproof case I’d bought for my iPhone!

I managed to get myself into my kayak without taking a bath the second time. It was full of water, including a nice puddle in the seat, but it didn’t really matter at this point. I don’t think I could get any wetter!

Which meant it was going to be a short first voyage. I paddled away from the boat launch a couple of times, getting used to the feel of the kayak. It has an effortless, smooth glide; much faster and also more unstable than my other two. It will take some getting used to.

I stayed out only about twenty minutes, and then headed back to shore. I could have stayed out longer, but I didn’t want to risk hypothermia. Even though I didn’t feel cold yet, I knew it was a real possibility if I didn’t get out of my wet clothes soon.

FH and I loaded my kayak back onto the trailer. He sponged the water out of the cockpit while I removed my wet rain gear and wrung out my fleece jacket. I’d forgotten to bring a change of clothes. I always carry one in my truck, but I came in FH’s truck this time. I had been so excited to test out my new kayak that I’d forgotten to grab anything. Except for socks, which was pointless. Oh, well! The truck had a good heater, and I had remembered my towel.

As we drove back to FH’s to drop off the kayaks, he suggested we do some pool time with our kayaks to practice self rescue before we put in any significant time on the water, and that sounds like a good idea. A kayak club I belong to offers weekly pool sessions in Tacoma at a ridiculously low fee.

By the way, although I was soaked and the temperatures were in the high 30s, my cold weather gear kept me warm. Only my fingers were cold, even though I was wearing neoprene gloves. I was wearing synthetic yoga pants under my waterproof rain pants, and a synthetic t-shirt and fleece jacket under my nylon rain jacket. All of these items will retain heat when wet, unlike cotton. Normally, I would also wear a wetsuit when winter kayaking, but I left that at home today because we had planned a short trip close to shore at a well-populated lake. But now that I have my dream kayak, the next thing on my “needs” list is a dry suit!

Stay tuned for more kayaking adventures!