The Go-Anywhere Kayak

Just yesterday I finally bought a kayak, having looked at them for months.  I have kayaked several times in the past year, and always enjoyed it tremendously.  The freedom and sense of independence that it offers is only equal to that of riding a bike; you go where you want to go, and you are responsible for getting yourself there.

Getting ready for the first cruise

Getting ready for the first cruise

I bought a Flex Vertex 85 Kayak from Dick’s Sporting Goods, which I believe the 85 means 8 feet and 5 inches in length.  It is lime green as you can see in the photo; you would think it even glows  in the dark!  It is available in red too from some sources, but Dick’s only has it in green, which is fine with me.  If you want to get the specifics on this kayak from the manufacture, just go to their site, by clicking here.

I would have bought one a long time ago, but I was looking for just the right kayak that would be easy to transport.  As you can see from my photos, I have a PT Cruiser, which is classified as an SUV although very few people would identify it as such.  I wasn’t a big fan of putting a kayak on top of the Cruiser, because I don’t have luggage racks (it’s just a basic Cruiser, manual transmission, no frills, but I like it that way).  I envisioned my kayak blowing off the top in a strong headwind, or bouncing off into traffic on the 385 during my morning commute.  I wanted to use the space available inside the Cruiser, if possible.  Upon doing some measurements, I found that the Cruiser is quite spacious inside, and has 8 feet and 6 inches of storage space if you fold down the back seat and the passenger seat.   When I discovered that factoid, I set out to find a kayak that would fit INSIDE the Cruiser. 

Kayak Inside The Cruiser
Kayak Inside The Cruiser

My search came to an end this weekend, when Dic k’s had a clearance sale on their kayaks.  The Flex Vertex 85 kayak was there in all it’s lime green glory, just waiting for me.  I got out the tape measure and verified the inside dimensions of my Cruiser, then strode into the store on a day in which it was pouring down rain (otherwise I would have been out on my bike, but that’s another story).

I got some sales clerks to help me climb up on a stepladder to measure the Green Wonder and sure enough it was only 8 feet and 3 inches, exactly the specifications listed on the Flex Vertex web page.  
So, I plunked down my card, and the deal was done.  A young sales clerk less than half my age toted it out to my Cruiser in the rain, where we then found it it fit like the proverbial glove.  Success, at last! 
 
It was too rainy to try out my new kayak on Saturday, so I postponed the first cruise until Sunday afternoon.  That gave me time to shop for a good paddle and a life vest.  I went to Dick’s competitor, Sports Authority, and found a reasonably priced double ended paddle with curved blades and an aluminum shaft.  The length of this paddle is 230 centimeters, which turned out to be long enough; for me, the longer the better.
 
View From The Rear of The Cruiser

View From The Rear of The Cruiser

On Sunday around 3:30 PM, on the coldest day that I have ever kayaked, I took the maiden voyage on Patroit Lake at that paradise of a place, Shelby Farms.    Unloading the kayak from my Cruiser was a snap; I just slid it out the back and carried it down to the boat ramp.
 
I even had some help from the AFLAC duck, the only creature out in weather like this.   See the picture below of the curious duck, inspecting the giant green thing.  Is it a giant pickle fallen from outer space?
The ALFAC Duck comes a-calling.  Do I need an insurance policy for this thing?

The ALFAC Duck comes a-calling. Do I need an insurance policy for this thing?

The maiden voyage was AWESOME!!!  I was able to freely paddle from place to place in the lake, staying as long as I wanted to, taking in all the sights of waterfowl that freely roam the lake.
 
I got a fantastic shot of a Great Blue Heron, a species which frequents the lake.  I had spent some time trying to sneak up on one but they have a sense of danger when humans are approaching and usually take to the skies at the first opportunity. 
 
You can see from the shots, I had a great time.  I have a lake in my neighborhood that I can use also for praticing my paddling strokes.  I found that this kayak manuvers differently than others that I have rented in the past, so I am going to need some time to improve my stroke technique.  Not to worry, I have all Spring and Summer to practice.  In fact, if I can make through today’s weather, I think that I could could kayak during the Winter months.
 
Kayaking Recommendations
If you are thinking about taking up kayaking, here are my thoughts:
  • get a good life vest, one that is comfortable.  I chose the Body Glove brand from Sports Authority; it has four buckles and is easy to get on and off.  I am partial to the Body Glove brand because I have a Body Glove full-body wet suit, too.
  • kayak seats can be hard to sit in for more than hour, because there is no cushion or padding in the seat.   I am going to put a foam cushion in mine soon. (ouch!)
  • my kayak is a ‘sit inside’ kayak, but they also sell ‘sit-on-top’ kayaks; I have used both types but I prefer the ‘sit inside’ style because it gives you more protection from waves and wind.  The ‘sit-on top’ models are practially unsinkable, however.
  • when choosing a paddle, make sure that when standing next to it, you can reach to the top and curl your fingertips over the top blade; if you can, then it’s a good fit.  My opinion is that it is okay to have a paddle that is a little longer; too short is never good.
  •  you might consider getting foot pegs to rest your feet on, if the kayak you purchase does not have them.  Some kayaks do, and some don’t.  If you don’t have them then your legs will just stretch out inside the kayak or you can try putting your feet flat inside the kayak.
  • some kayaks are designed for speed, others for practicality.  A long narrow kayak will be faster than a short wide kayak, but will be more unstable, so pick your kayak based on your needs.  Mine is not the fastest, but it is very useful to me because I can stay warm inside and can carry supplies in the bow such as backpacks, cameras, Monet paintings, etc.
  • A roof-mount rack can cost you from $40 to $200, depending on the quality of the rack.  Most people don’t want to put their kayak inside their car, so consider you’ll most likely need to invest in a roof-mount rack.
The Great Blue Heron - I finally got one to hold still for a moment!

The Great Blue Heron - I finally got one to hold still for a moment!

All things considered, I am very pleased with my new kayak.  I am already scouting the area for places to use it, and maybe I will take a river trip, when I can find someone to accompany me.  Check back for more kayaking posts soon!

View from the kayak

View from the kayak

Back safe and sound on the bank

Back safe and sound on the bank

View From The Bow
View From The Bow
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3 Responses to The Go-Anywhere Kayak

  1. Kati Buie says:

    I too own a PT cruiser and I was delighted read about your experience. I plan to follow in your foot steps. Thank you Kati Buie

  2. V.Holt says:

    The question is, can two of these fit in a PT cruiser, sacked?

    • I don’t think two can fit in a PT cruiser, because of the height of the kayak in relation to the space inside from seat to roof. you might could stack a ‘sit-on-top’ kayak on top of mine and get both inside the PT Cruiser however!

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