To Sell or Not To Sell My Kayak

Warning: This is more a long-winded, navel-gazing confession than a post about living on the road. But, if you’re in for the whole thing, maybe there’s something about full-time living on the road in here, too.

My Kayak Beginnings

Last year at about this time, we were frantically trying to anticipate a life on the road—well enough to pack all the right things and sell/give away the rest. We hit the nail on the head with some things (we bought a great trailer, found a wonderful travel dog, etc.), but other items have been trickier, like my kayak.

When Tracy and I met, I had a cheap, plastic, flat-bottomed kayak I’d bought on the side of the road for $100 (including life jacket, paddle, and how-to book!). I lovingly named her Lisa after the young woman who’d moved across country and asked friends to sell what she’d left in storage. (Little did I know that I’d be following in her footsteps pretty soon.)

Back then I didn’t know anything about kayaking, but man did I love Lisa. I could put her on top of my little Prius all by myself (if there was no wind), and haul her off to whatever water I could find, and carry her to the water myself. In other words, Lisa and I could go on adventures just the two of us.

Most of those adventures involved me paddling casually along the banks of the Shenandoah or Potomac near Harpers Ferry, or goofing with the family kids at Lake Anna. Sometimes I’d paddle out to what I called Bat Cove, prop my feet up on the edge of Lisa’s cockpit (or whatever that’s called), and read a book while drinking a beer or two. Lisa and I would hang out, in other words.

I even included a picture of myself carrying Lisa on my dating profile, and of course that caught Tracy’s eye.

He’s a different kind of kayaker, though.

Tracy’s Kayak Expertise

He’s the kind of kayaker who takes classes in paddling, rolling, recovering. He never leaves the shore without all his safety equipment. He takes a spare paddle with him each time. He checks his kayak after each trip for possible damage. He and his kayaks don’t just hang out; they’re in a serious relationship.

And note that I use plural when it comes to Tracy’s kayaks. He used to have several, each for different types of water and trip. You probably know about his annual September trip when he’d get on a different stretch of the upper Mississippi and paddle each day, then camp on a bank at night, and paddle again, all by himself, fishing and meeting people along the way, for the whole month. The next year he’d tackle a different segment of the Mighty Mighty.

All those safety measures and paddling classes were what allowed him to go on those adventures.

I’m super impressed by this. And when he and I would go out kayaking in the beginning of our relationship, I’d be a little envious of his skills and how he can move along in front of me, pretty much effortlessly, in his long, narrow, fast-as-can-be touring kayak.

So when he found one for me—built like his but made for a small person (a real rarity)—I tried it out and thought, yeah, I could learn how to paddle this sucker. Then I could keep up with him, not necessarily on his trips, but at least on some adventures.

But then came me taking care of my mom, and my sister’s death, and my mom’s death, and all their stuff, and then Tracy’s sudden early retirement, and us buying the Airstream.

All of a sudden, I hadn’t taken paddling lessons, and I’d been out on the new kayak only a handful of times.

Hitting the Road with Two Kayaks

So, we had to pick just two kayaks to take with us out of our armada (ha!) of five at the time. Tracy had his fiberglass one that he chose to take, plus a plastic sit-on-top that he’d taken on those Mississippi trips so many times, and a third that he’d recently bought to go on a lake trip. I had my new long, fancy, kevlar kayak and Lisa.

It seemed silly to leave the fancy kayak behind and take a $100 plastic one with us (plus she is so short she wouldn’t have fit on top of the truck with Tracy’s fiberglass one).

So the new kayak came with us. And I tried her out on lake after lake.

But, when we were on Lake Superior where we’d planned to kayak a long distance to the Apostle Islands, I didn’t have the skills or confidence to go that far.

So I waited to make a decision until the next place where a long, fast kayak would be welcome: the Keys. And again, here, I just don’t feel comfortable enough to paddle from one island to another with Tracy.

I could get out on the water each day and practice the certain strokes he showed me in the beginning. I could learn to steer by leaning this way and that. I could roll myself out and practice getting back in. I could figure out exactly how long it takes to turn at what speeds. I could learn.

But really what I want to do is tool around on the coastline. I want to be able to go out by myself when I please and just look around.

Of course I also would love to keep up with Tracy, too. That’s why I accepted the offer of a neighbor here in the Keys to try his famous Hobie kayak that you peddle with your feet instead of paddle with your arms. Think of one of those reclined bikes. It would be the best of both worlds: a more steady, flat(ish)-bottom boat that I would feel safe in, but the peddling supposedly allows it to go really fast.

Danged if that doesn’t have its own learning curve, too, though. I immediately ran this guys’ expensive boat aground (the propeller you make move with the pedals is under the kayak, duh), and I struggled with the rudder for steering. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t learn, but a) buying one would be just as expensive as the touring one I’m trying to get away from, and 2) it’s heavy so there goes my idea of being about to get out on the water alone.

For Sale

Turns out it’s complicated to sell something big and/or expensive when you live on the road. You have to be somewhere long enough so when someone sees the advertisement they can still drive out to check out the item, plus you probably should be near water if you want them to get in a kayak and fork over money for it.

This is another reason why I decided to sell mine now. Not only have my kayak and I failed the second (Keys) test of whether I think this long one is the right one for me, but we’re also here for the next five weeks, so maybe, just maybe, someone will see it advertised and will come try it out while we’re here.

Then I need to find a new kayak (like Lisa? or a little more sophisticated?) and get saddles for hauling it on top of the truck along with Tracy’s long kayak, which may answer the “what kind” question right there (maybe it *has* to be longer).

First though, to get mine sold. If you know of anyone who would like a very long, fast, lightweight touring kayak made for small people, I have an ad on facebook and another on craigslist. Chances are I’ll probably still have the kayak when I come your way!

2 thoughts to “To Sell or Not To Sell My Kayak”

  1. I love your Lisa! I had a similar and it carried me through tough white water and rough sea waves and I never felt trapped like in a kajak.