I had my first trip yesterday in Lake Union with my new kayak.
Finally, it out in the sunlight, not in the garage and it looked great. It looked like a finished product—at least from a distance—and I was soon to put it into the water. Yes, I knew it would float, but would I fall in love with it?
Earlier that same day, I had taken Leo to the Center for Wooden Boats. They have free public boat rides on Sunday. I showed up at 10:15 and signed up for an Umiak (big canoe) ride for Leo and myself at 1:30. It was a very nice day, so I figured Leo and I could spend few hours near the water and have lunch.
Of course, as soon as I’m in line to sign up, my dad calls. He’s wondering when to meet up and given the timing of things, 4PM. I would have rather seen him earlier, but I had already biked my way down to South Lake Union, there’s no point in leaving until our boat ride was done.
Killing times with kids is pretty easy, if there’s a body of water nearby. There’s a fairly new park with a beach just next to MoHAI, where at around 10:30 in the morning had quite a number of dogs (not kids or adults) splashing about. It all seems a bit brazen of the many dog owners to let them off leash with a nearby sign explaining a $500 max fine for them at the beach.
I’m not really sure what I think of the dog owners, but I knew Leo was going into the water at some point and I know he’s understandably frightened of them.
Having biked my way here, I was soon hungry. Just across the street on Westlake, there’s a row of restaurants, one very large sports bar (capacity 600+) and down a few doors, a barbecue place, with again a sports bar theme. This being Football Sunday, waiters and waitresses were in Seahawks jerseys.
Leo’s actually fun to take out to a restaurant. Every time I’ve done it, it turns out better than I expect. And in many ways it’s easier than with the wife and other kid. Maybe because I don’t have to calibrate Leo’s behavior within the wife’s parameters, or maybe I can just focus my attention on him and the food, rather than the n-way dynamics.
In recent memory: Duke’s Chowder House. I order fried fish and a side of clam chowder; he ate and was happy. (Yeah the neighboring table of made-up ladies gave me dirty looks when he played with the the stanchion rope, but he’s just a kid.) Pizza at Veraci and Tutta Bella was easy. I also remember taking him to Pike’s Place market and eating at a fried fish place. When the food comes quickly, it really makes it easy.
Much like his mother, he’s also really enthusiastic about food. I mean, if you mention cake to Leo the previous day, at breakfast he’s wondering when he’s going to eat cake that day. It’s all a bit absurd.
Anyway, lunch was good. We even had a good time when he went to poop. I’m always impressed with how much cable is laid. It’s always good cheer when your young ones use the toilet like you’ve been asking. And then we were off to the small beach again.
This time, no dogs, and lots of kids. I don’t even manage to take off his shorts before he’s flopping in the water. Though Hitomi always packs in a few changes of clothes, although we had a spare pair after he wet his pants watching a float plane take off nearby—Kenmore Air—we were down to a couple of pull-ups. Dutifully, though, every time after that he peed in the bushes.
Nearby the beach, lots of kids were jumping off a foot bridge. And despite “No Diving No Swimming” signs, parents didn’t seem to mind or even photographed the transgressions, which I thought was a good thing. I had thought to jump as well, but who would watch Leo? Besides, I had no change of underwear and I was going to paddle and still have to bike home.
The Umiak we were about the paddle held about 12 people, plus a captain. Originally only Leo and I were signed up, but later about 10 more high school aged kids came by. And most of them were frightfully obese it became an issue of getting everyone off and on the boat using help from the dock.
Getting the group to paddle was another problem. About half the paddlers paddled, and it was small miracle was we moved at all. The captain (Elizabeth) chose the small bay in the corner of SLU park, which wasn’t very far. After orientation and boarding, we didn’t have a lot of time anyway. We frightened off a sunning turtle or two, but the group still had a good time waving to motor yachts we went by.
I eventually realized that Elizabeth was Betsy, Kevin’s stepmother. She obviously didn’t recognize me, with the hat, sunglasses, and half-Asian kid. I thought I’d bring it up the fact I had, many years ago, slept in the same house with her, but obviously she had her hands full with the many newbie paddlers signed up that day. What made it a certain match was her impromptu lecture on how learning to wait patiently in line as a kid was critical, because it made you prepared later in life to wait your turn in traffic.
I know in many ways, Betsy and Ken (Kevin’s dad) are upstanding citizens, but operate on a different plane than most mortals. Meaning, they are perfect and perfectly nice but for whatever reason not fun to be around. I don’t really know, though, but that’s sort of the cemented impression that I got as a teenager staying at Kevin’s house.
It was now 2:30 or so. I rode my bike home and it was hot and Leo was heavy, and heavier asleep. I wanted to get back and get my kayaks ready for launch when my Dad arrived.
Now I realize it was a bit insane to start out on another trip this late in the day, but it was likely my only chance. Dad was going to ride in the double with Leo, and I was going to try out my kayak. We’d paddle to Gasworks (and beyond), turn around, and eat dinner at home. I had dinner ready in the queue.
I juggled dinner, kayak loading, and what-not. I was hot and tired. Leo didn’t sleep at home. (He enthusiastically resists nap time now.) But after I loaded my new kayak on the car I was determined to make the outing work. Now, the double…I struggled to find the proper straps and resorted to jury-rigging with red tie-downs.
But then we were in the car and on route to Lake Union. Then there was the parking, and then unloading. Then the figuring out the rudder for Dad.
My first impressions of my kayak (the Murrlet) on the water: It looks great. Not as tippy as I was hoping for, really, probably because of the long waterline. It really doesn’t feel as narrow as it looks. The cockpit is pretty roomy. But I could easily turn and keep the kayak pointed where I wanted to. And then my Dad had a hard time keeping the double going straight and so there was a lot of waiting. I didn’t really get a feel for the speed, with all the chop on the lake.
So maybe it’s not fitness craft I want, but really more appropriate for kayak camping and the like.
Leo, despite all his bounciness, managed to stay peacefully in the front of the double, though I figure he may only be good for about 30 minutes without landing. With food to occupy him, maybe longer. He’s way too short to paddle, though maybe with a high enough foam pad he could sort of do it. If I was able to load and unload the double on my own, I’d really be looking forward to taking him out on milk runs to Agua Verde for tacos.
For a quick snack and stretch the legs, we ended up at Roanoke Street Mini Park, where Leo and I split an apple. I decided to switch boats with Dad, since the double was hard to steer, which turned out to be a mistake. He was furious about the seat back being uncomfortable, although to be honest unless you really sit leaning slightly forward, which isn’t that natural, you really are going to suffer.
Since it was maybe a year or so since my last paddle, I was pretty wobbly getting out and my chest felt sore. My body’s no longer that of a kayaker.
Getting home was easy, and dinner was pretty good. Despite my Dad having a hard time all is forgiven over a nice meal.
So today I finished strengthening the interior (the joint between the deck and hull) and now it’s just sanding and varnishing to be nearly complete. I also need to add end pours, holes for toggle lines, and rig the deck. But more importantly I need a strategy to get more time in the water.