I talked Bug into kayaking on Lake Cohituate this afternoon. The bribes included swimming off the kayaks, ice cream, and letting her have her own kayak. Letting her have her own kayak wasn't so much a bribe as part of the plan. I got her a paddle of her own and want her to start learning to use it when we paddle in the double. The best way I could think of was to put her in her own kayak.
I was half expecting the rental place to say no, but they seemed perfectly OK with letting a six year old on the lake in her own kayak. They even had special kid kayaks. They were some sort of Ocean Play sit on top with an integrated tow system. I also got a sit on top because I figure it would make things easier if Bug needed help.
When they asked how long we would be out I said maybe an hour. I wasn't sure how long Bug would last. I shouldn't have been.
The first challenge was getting out of the loading area. There are some moored sail boats and a fair amount of kayak traffic. Maneuvering is pretty important and this was Bug's first time. It took a surprisingly short amount of time for her to figure out how to make the kayak go mostly where she wanted it to.
We paddled over to one of the small coves and hopped in the water for some swimming. Sit-on-tops are much better swimming platforms than the typical sea kayak. They are so wide and stable you can just haul yourself right up on the deck. It was nice. Bug even did a few practice capsizes just for fun.
After some swimming, we went back to the mouth of the cove. I asked Bug where she wanted to go next. We could go back or we could paddle around some more. She decided to paddle to the far side of the lake and took off.
She got up some good speed at times. She also did a fair share of experimenting with how the paddle felt in the water and different ways of making the kayak move. It was great fun to watch. I didn't really do much in the way of teaching or coaching. I simply reminded her a few times that the smiley faces on the paddle should always be smiling back at her and encouraged her when she did something really good. It was more about having fun than about being taught anything.
About three quarters of the way across the lake I looked at my watch and realized that we'd been out on the water for 45 minutes. Doing some quick math in my head, I realize that it will take at least 20 minutes to get back. The money warnings started going off in my head. Stupid grown-up concerns....
I decided it was time to hurry back to the rental place.
Bug decided it was time to swim again. "Just five minutes, please." Ten minutes later, after a few panics about fish brushing up against her legs, we were on our way back.
It was not fast going, since Bug wanted to paddle over near shore to check out a party and practice backwards turning. There were also a few short sprints.
I eventually gave up worrying about the money. How often, will I get the chance to have a relaxing paddle with my daughter on a perfect summer day? Hopefully, a lot, but it is still priceless.
When it looked like she was getting tired, I offered to tow her. The wind had picked up a little and it was making it hard to paddle straight. Bug refused. At one point, Bug was making goofy screams and a paddle boarder asked if she was OK. Of course, she was OK.
Bug did ask me to tow her one time. She couldn't get away from the shore and wanted me too pull her out to the middle of the lake. She was very clear that this was a temporary tow. I'm not sure what happened, but once we were well away from shore I felt the tow get taught and then very slack.... I look back and Bug is in the water, with her paddle, and a little freaked out. Using my calm voice I got her over to my kayak, took her paddle, and helped her back up.
I asked if she was OK and we were off again. After some more meandering and checking out why the swim area was on lock down, we made it back to the rental place. Total time on the water was over two hours of fun.
I cannot wait to do it again.