Saturday, October 9, 2010

Palmico Excel – Wilderness Systems

Our second kayak, purchased from a small store on a side road in Cape Cod. The front seat shifts, allowing it to be centered when paddled by one person, or further forward, if two are sharing. Boat trials were one at a time, since our kids were with us. I felt like I was practically flying over the marshy inlet by the store, it was so much faster than our Keowee! And on the way back, I ran it into some exposed spike, gouging the hull and giving us an excuse to buy it.
We took it to Connecticut, left the kids with my Mom and went out for some paddles; up the Branford River, from Branford Point to Killiam’s Point. On those trips it became obvious that Mark and I weighed too much to be in the boat together, the slightest waves came over the side. Oh well.
Still, it saw lots of use Back at our house on Wyman Pond. It wasn’t as much fun to poke with as our first boat, but it could really move, plus it could carry one or two kids along with the paddler.
After we moved to Maine, on a crisp fall day, Mark took it, with its deck cover, to Pushaw Lake. Waves rolled over the side, soaking and chilling him and making him realize that the Palmico was inappropriate for the larger cold waters of Maine.
So it became a summer boat. Sitting in front is my sister Ginny, who at the time worked as a bagger. She’d taken her vacations with my Mom or on special group trips for years. After my Mother passed, she began coming to Maine. I knew she liked swimming in pools. Unfortunately, she did not enjoy swimming in lakes, where the bottom was uneven and she couldn’t see her feet.
We tried her the pumpkin seed shaped Keowee; getting her in it on shore, dragging the boat into the water, standing beside her in the water. No luck; she didn’t like it. But surprisingly she expressed a willingness to get into the Palmico.
At first she had a European paddle. But the lack of muscle tone associated with Down Syndrome meant she’d let the paddle rotate on some strokes, then try to pull the flat paddle up from under the water. I spent most of my time countering those moves so we didn’t flip. She did much better with a Greenland paddle, the shaft is larger, which gives her more to grip, and even rotated, it still propelled the boat, so she was less likely to pull it straight up.
This is how I knew we had success. We’d gone paddling as a group. Mark, the boys and their friends were off playing with river soakers. Ginny turned to me and said “We can beat those boys back to lunch!”
She took off paddling. And so did I. High fives all around, we won!
The boat’s bottom is so scarred that I can’t find the original gouge; the top has some permanent black crud in its pebbled finish; the plastic combing is falling off the cockpit; the seat covers are now a gradient of white to black, but it still works its magic.
This summer one young niece lingered on shore while her two even younger cousins played in boats. Later, when the boats were all back, she came to me, “I’d like to go in a boat.”
“OK, the blue one?”
“No,” she said pointing to the Palmico, “that one. You’ll go out with me won’t you?”
“Of course.” And we were off on the water.

If you have a story of a kayak which inspires you, share that in the comments area.

A note about Penobscotpaddles: work, wind and weather has kept us paddling from home this week. Which has given me time to build a better site index, and rearrange things a bit.

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