Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wilmington, NC or Bust!

Hi everyone! Rachel and I had a wonderful trip to Wilmington, NC, to celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary. :-) And as always... with few exceptions, when I'm on any kind of road trip, I am always on the lookout for anything... and everything having to do with paddling and kayaks! ;-) I soon discovered yaking activities!

We had dinner Saturday night at The Bridge Tender, a great seafood restaurant that over looks the Intercoastal Waterway. There was a lot of boat traffic navigating up and down this waterway - small pleasure craft and large 40 - 60 foot fishing boats. Suddenly, I spied two kayakers paddling east - which would be left to right in this photo. And I had to shake my head in disappointment. It was a couple in two rental kayaks. The man was wearing no shirt, no hat... and worse, no PFD! It was approaching early evening, but still quite warm with partially cloudy skies, so he was getting some serious UV rays. Also, the wind was starting to strengthen and the current was running fast. Add in a congested waterway chocked with a lot of boat traffic and you have all the ingredients for an accident just waiting to happen. Thankfully, the woman wore her PFD... and they were both keeping as close to the moored boats and out of the main channel as possible. But why do folks take such chances?
We drove over to Wrightsville Beach Sunday morning and came across Hook, Line & Paddle Canoe & Kayak Outfitters (HLP) employees giving some vacationers last minute instructions before they put in. They listened closely and both couples put in with no mishaps. I watched as they started paddling... one set of oars tilting in one direction... and the other set swinging in the opposite one! ;-) Saw and heard a few blade "whacks" as each paddler worked to get their paddle strokes synchronized. It took a few tries... but before long both tandem kayaks were skimming across the calm waters with a quiet grace!
HLP sports a really "kool" logo design. One of the HLP paddle sports experts explained to me that her brother had designed it. Her explanation helped sell two HLP t-shirts to... guess who? ;-)
HLP rents kayaks and sailboats by the hour and day. If our schedule had permitted, I would have definitely gone for a paddle! Next time for sure!

Over heard an interesting conversation with a woman, who came up as I was chatting with the HLP employees, and wanted to rent a single kayak - the one in this photo. The HLP paddle sports expert explained to her that some of the deck webbing was broken from being stacked, but it was no big deal. She looked at him sharply, and then asked... "Are you sure? I don't want this thing to fall apart when I get out in the water." :-O The HLP paddle sports expert then asked her if she had a whistle. Again, the woman looked at him sharply and asked... "what do I need a whistle for? He patiently explained to her that the whistle was to be used in the case of an emergency... like if a powerboat was coming straight at you... you could blow it in the hopes the craft overtaking you would hear and/or see the low lying kayak before hitting it. He added that the U.S. Coast Guard required a whistle or other signaling device for small craft. She looked at him with a puzzled look on her face and asked... "When did that regulation change?" After she had put in and was paddling away from the shoreline, I turned to one of the HLP paddle sports experts and commented... "You must get a lot of new and inexperienced paddlers everyday." "We do, she replied. But this woman paddles with us twice a week in the summer months." Now, it was my turn to :-O

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