Last Wednesday I signed up for my first paddle of the season with the Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre. I ambitiously selected a mid-week sunrise paddle. As I struggled to get out of bed at 5am I briefly considered rolling over for an extended snooze, but ultimately got ready and biked down to the launch.
The moment my kayak glided into the water, my face spontaneously erupted into a giant, toothy smile. Free! Floating! I remembered how much I missed being on the water. The fresh(ish) air.
My body immediately relaxed succumbing to the gentle swaying motion of the boat in the water. The effect was hypnotic. I dipped my paddle into the water and propelled myself forward, leaving everything else behind on land. This included the day’s to-do list, the unwashed dishes in the sink, and the myriad of other pressing things on the agenda. For the next 90 minutes my only task was to paddle and enjoy the scenery. A small respite from technology, email, screens, and obligations.
I have always loved water sports and boating. I’m not sure what it is about kayaking, but I feel a huge sense of relief the minute I’m bobbing around in the water. Listening to the susurration of the waves gently lapping against the edge of my boat has a calming effect, at least when it’s not super windy.
What I love about kayaking, more than other types of boating, is that I’m so close to the water, literally attached to the boat. I feel like a strange aquatic centaur, half-human and half-boat, powering myself through a new element. Seamlessly gliding along without a care in the world.
The kayak provides a unique combination of sensations: floating, security, strength, and adventure. As a lap swimmer for over 20 years I’m definitely comfortable in the water. The kayak, however, offers me an opportunity to be at ease on the water.
As I blogged about earlier this year (click here), kayaking is also a great way to get close to nature and observe it, without being obtrusive. In 2016, on the 4-day kayaking trip I took with my family, we had the good fortune to see whales, orcas, eagles, seals, sea lions, and stunning scenery.
Regardless of the scenery and cool animals, the thrill of being on the water in such an intimate way already feels like a treat.