My new Sea Eagle Razorlite 393rl arrived on Thursday and I was anxious to try out my new toy. I decided to perform the maiden voyage at Islet Lake. A small leech-filled lake just east of Cooking Lake. I have never been to this location before but some of the local kayak clubs hold events here so it must have some paddling attraction. Time to discover why.
I was hoping for some smooth as a pane of glass water but instead got a windy and choppy lake. C’est la vie.
Safely drove to the staging area with only one wrong turn (precursor alert). I had the entire lake to myself. The “beach” access was about 400m from the parking lot so not too far to carry my lite 12.7 kg boat plus the 20 kg of other stuff like personal flotation device, paddle, clothing, shoes, camera equipment, tripod etc. I thought this was to be a lightweight portable solution.
Time to assemble the boat. Having memorized the written instructions and watched a number of instructional videos from Sea Eagle, this was going to be a piece of cake. It should only take about 10 mins to get up and running.
Time to take to the seas or least the water. Winds were about 20 – 30 km directly into my face from the launching point. I was a little anxious to enter the kayak as it is known to be “tippy” but I was able to launch without much difficulty. I paddled out about 50 m and the boat cut through the waves like a hot knife through butter and felt very stable. I then twisted my head to view the launch area behind me which entailed a small shift of weight to one side of the boat. That got my attention fast and I learned what “tippy” means. Although I did not capsize I definitely felt like I might. So for the rest of the maiden voyage, this was a look straight ahead mode of operation.
I have no pictures from the kayak as I did not trust myself to take any electronics out on the water. Based on my first 1 min of paddling, there is zero chance of me taking any expensive camera gear on the kayak until my skills/balance improve significantly.
My plan was to paddle around the small island in the middle of the lake and then return back. This meant going against the wind/waves for the first half of the trip and ridding the waves back. Perfect. I soon learned a number of things:
- I need work on my paddling skills as I dripped more water into the boat from my paddling strokes then from any water entering from the waves
- The boat needs to be pointed head on into the waves not perpendicular
- It takes a LOT of effort to turn the boat from perpendicular to head on if the waves are any size at all
- You need to mark your starting point so you know how to get back to it unless you want 30 mins of extra sight seeing time
I was out on the lake for about 2 hrs. I saw 5 very large pelicans, numerous other birds, a large beaver dam and to top it off, a moose decided to swim across the lake to the island right in front of me.
Too bad I did not have my camera.
As the kayak was drying off, a couple of new paddlers were portaging their boats down to the water. Their initial interest in me was whether I was sticking around as they wanted to use the picnic tables for their own private party. Once I said I was leaving they were a lot more friendly. They then noticed my inflatable kayak and were amazed by it. We talked for about 20 mins.
The next test was to get the deflated kayak back into it’s carrying case. I did but it took a lot of effort to stuff that baby back in.