I’m excited about a new discovery I just made and I have to share it with you.
Outrigger canoe paddling!
My friend, Lozz, has been paddling for years and often mentioned that I should give it a try. So recently I took her up on it. Trouble is I’m a weak swimmer so any type of water sport has always made me a little uneasy. I decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a go. Speaking of wind, my first try at this happened to be a windy evening and Okanagan Lake was pretty choppy but the sun was shining so I was willing.
I was relieved to know I wasn’t the only newbie that night. There was an athletic looking guy that was new too. Hmm…athletic. As we carried the six seat outriggers to the water I was trying to size everyone up. Yep, most looked pretty athletic. “Dear God” I thought “what have I gotten myself into?” Life jacket on, oar in hand and sitting in the canoe is too late to start having second thoughts. Crap!
Lozz sat behind me and was calling out instructions and tips whenever she had the time but she was also the steersman and was busy with the rough water and keeping us upright and going in the right direction. We paddled 15 strokes on one side and then 15 strokes on the other…constantly…for about an hour. If you want a break to drink some water you have to call your seat number out so everyone knows you are out for a minute. Well, I didn’t want to appear weak and I wanted to paddle my share so I only went out once or twice to guzzle my water. Nobody else took many breaks because it was just too rough to stop paddling apparently. Wow, this is real work! My arms and core were burning by the end of it but I have to admit I felt a thrill when the canoe gained speed and I loved the rhythm of the paddling. It was almost meditative.
The evening paddle was a success! I really enjoyed myself and I decided to do it again on Sunday and this time I’d bring my husband along.
Sunday morning we arrived at the Vernon Racing Canoe Club house and signed our lives away waivers. It was sunny and hot on this last day of May. This time I wasn’t the only newbie in my canoe. It was a canoe of newbies except the steersman and the 1st seat person. No problem. The lake was really calm. We had a brief lesson and then set out. The first thing I noticed was that the pace was much slower than my first try. Then the steersman allowed us to stop and have a break. He discussed some paddling tips and everyone chit chatted. Then we paddled for a bit and then stopped for another break. Nice. I was beginning to get a good feel for paddling and I was really enjoying myself when suddenly…the outrigger arm started to come up out of the water…and faster than you can say “aloha kakahiaka” we were flipped over and in the frigid water. I’m talking take-your-breath-away and get-me-outta-here-fast cold. After a head count we all worked as quickly as possible to get the canoe upright again. When enough water was bailed out we were able to hop back in again. I use the word hop loosely. It is not that easy to hoist your numb trunk and limbs up and over a canoe, but we succeeded and managed to have some good laughs in the process. I think it was my husbands favourite part. When you flip one of these outriggers it is called a “Huli”. In Hawaiian, the word “huli” means to turn over. So I survived a huli and learned a little Hawaiian all in the same day.
I don’t plan on dipping into the lake again for a few more weeks. It has to warm up considerably before I go for another swim. But you never know…I’m getting back in the saddle or in this case the outrigger, tonight. Wish me luck!