Family Vacation Part 4: On the Water

Date August 24, 2008

We spent just over six days at my parents’ cabin in Rangeley, Maine. This is only the second time that we’ve been to the cabin (first time for Alana), and it was every bit as wonderful as we remember.

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We’ve got a series of posts coming that cover our week at the cabin. This post is all about the various paddles we took on the lake. My folks keep a tandem canoe and a couple of sea kayaks there, and they got a lot of use. Having grown up canoeing and canoe-camping quite a bit…I’m excited by the kids’ enthusiasm!

It took a little experimenting to figure out how to position my 200-lb. body (um…on a generous scale) in the canoe with the kids in a way that didn’t have them riding out of the water. First, I tried kneeling on one of the thwarts (with Carson):

This worked well balance-wise, but was brutal on my knees and not particularly comfortable on my tush.

From then on, every time we got in the canoe, we paddled it backwards, so I could sit in the bow seat (facing backwards) and whomever was in the bow would sit in the stern (facing backwards). Hmmm… If you paddle a canoe backwards, is the bow still the bow? With Alana in this arrangement:

I still kneeled occasionally, but I kept my life jacket off to use as padding on the bottom of the boat. Much better.

On Thursday, Carson, Benton, and I paddled just over 2 miles to the Rangeley town center. Benton’s idea was that Carson would paddle on the way over, and he would paddle on the way back (quietly telling me that he thought Carson might just decide to ride back in the car with Alana and Julie, who were meeting us there). As we departed from the dock at the cabin:

Doesn’t the water look nice and calm? It was. I’d noticed during the week that the prevailing wind was a west wind when it picked up, and we were paddling pretty much due east, so Benton’s plan seemed like a good one, as I would have a stronger paddler on the way back if the wind was blowing. While we were in town, we ate lunch, had some ice cream, did a little shopping, spent some time in the public library (free wi-fi, so I could check in with work), and got ready to head back. The wind had indeed picked up.

And Benton had decided that he wanted to ride back in the car with Julie and Alana. Doh!

Carson was game to paddle back with me. He paddled for the first half-mile and then got engrossed with the small rubber lizard (dubbed “Lizzie”) that he had purchased in town. Paddling solo into a stiff headwind in a tandem canoe. I’ve got good form. I can take it.

Until Lizzie “jumped” into the water when Carson dangled him over the side for a drink. He floated, fortunately, so I was able to retrieve him fairly quickly, but I was then turned broadside to the wind in open water. To Carson’s credit, he gamely grabbed his paddle when I told him I needed some help to get us pointed into the wind again, and he was a help. After that, he went back to Lizzie-time.

Back at the cabin, Benton was well-rested and wanted to do some sea kayaking. The next thing I knew, he and I were paddling (separately) a mile west into that same headwind up to Hunter’s Cove. Much easier in a kayak, and I was impressed that Benton completely had the hang of things by that point. He spent a lot of time in one of the kayaks:

Carson did some kayaking as well, but the kayak that had pedals that were adjustable far enough forward for the kids to reach was my dad’s, oddly enough, and it is a bit of a tank as sea kayaks go. Still, Carson could fairly consistently maneuver himself and got to where he’d paddle 10-20 yards out from shore and back:

Alana even got into the action (note that the stern is cropped out of the picture…to obscure the firm grip I had on the boat!):

Julie, too (take note of her here, as you won’t see her at all in the post of us in the water):

One Response to “Family Vacation Part 4: On the Water”

  1. Connie Bensen said:

    Looks like awesome fun! Glad that they had such a great time!! Thanks for sharing.

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