Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This past weekend

I travelled with a friend to the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. I first went to this event two years ago in search of a kayak that had to fit a particular list of criteria. It had to be able to hold a months worth of gear and food. It had to fit my rather narrow hips, it had to be fun to paddle, and it had to be affordable. Being a zen/Buddhist paddling instructor isn't the windfall of income you might expect. This last criteria ruled out a number of classic expedition boats. The NDK's were out, The Current designs and Seawards were out. The P&H's were out. Well. The P&H's and NDK's made of plastic were on the table, to a degree. I paddled a lot of boats two years ago. And the very last boat I paddled was so wonderful I knew it was the boat immediately.

Feng shui is the Chinese art of arranging things in your surroundings to promote the flow of CHI (sometimes spelled QI) energy. You may scoff at this concept, but the Chinese don't. The city of Hong Kong was built using the strict principles of Feng Shui. One of the first lessons I learned in Feng Shui was this. Have you ever walked into a room and thought, this room just doesn't 'feel' right? That is bad Feng Shui. Another lesson was, when choosing a piece of fruit, let your hand wander over the options, allow your instincts to select the fruit, and undoubtedly you will choose the perfect piece.

I got into this boat, and it was just 'right'. I knew it was the boat. It met my criteria. To save cost and weight it was thermoformed plastic instead of fiberglass. It was a load monster, more than big enough. And the sport model fit my hips perfectly. Best of all it was fun to paddle. The manufacturer wasn't represented at the Symposium, I found an owner who let me paddle his boat. After doing some research on the boat, and the relatively 'new fangled' material, I took the plunge and purchased my Delta Seventeen sport. It is the boat in all my videos. I later found out that The Owner of Delta kayaks is a gentleman names Mark Hall, who had formerly been with Seaward kayaks. I had a lot of experience in Seaward Kayaks, as they were used by a school I teach for, and I enjoyed the way they paddled.

This year, I was going for very different reasons. A friend who is an avid whitewater paddler, is thinking about moving into the sea kayak realm. He is the antithesis of my body type. His concern was a boat that would fit his 6'6" frame, and still perform well. He is after all used to paddling a seven foot, nimble whitewater kayak. He paddled a number of boats. P&H's, NDK's, Current Designs. A few others. Then, as we were walking down the waterfront looking at vendors, we realized that Delta kayaks was represented. They Offer an Eighteen (actually 18'5 feet long) version of my boat. My friend tried it and was as impressed by it, as I was by my own boat two years before. As we were looking at the Eighteen, we realized that standing behind us was Mark Hall, designer and one of the owners of Delta Kayaks. The Three of us chatted on and off for two days. Delving further and further into Kayak design, and the whys and hows of the boats before us. He answered every question we had - regardless of how silly or mundane they were - and laughed through the whole thing. He was an absolute joy to meet.

At the end of day two, my friend came to the same conclusion I did. While he liked many of the boats he paddled, he loved the Delta. And while I paddled many beautiful boats - as I was in the 'dreaming phase' what if money was no option - I came to the same conclusion I did two years ago. I love my Delta Kayak. It just feels right.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Brett, 47 paddles to date in our Delta 15.5 Expeditions and our sentiments are the same as yours about Delta. In fact this past week our paddling mentor played in my ride at the lake and rolled it a few times. In the video that I posted today she can be heard saying that she is really impressed with how it rolls. Now only if I can master the fluidity of the roll myself.

    BTW ... yeah, I'm going through your blog posts one at at time. :-)