Sunday, September 8, 2013

If Only I Could, Surely I Would

If only I could, surely I would...

Eskimo roll reliably. According to John Lull (author of “Sea Kayaking Safety and Rescue”) learning to eskimo roll requires “commitment, concentration and relaxation.” Off and on, more on than off lately, I've been working on getting a reliable eskimo roll and I would say that, in addition to commitment, concentration and relaxation, a high tolerance for frustration is required.

I think I have now spent almost as much time hanging upside down in my kayak as I have spent right side up (O.K., maybe a little less), a commensurate amount of time teetering on the brink between right side up and upside down (usually ending upside down), and, a fair bit of time swimming a boat full of water to shore and emptying it out; and still a reliable roll eludes me.

It's not that many days ago that I had my “best day ever” when I hit four rolls out of five in the morning and again in the afternoon, and thought – well hoped more than thought - that I might have turned some proverbial corner where my rolls would suddenly become more reliable. But, two days later, feeling nervous that I couldn't repeat such a high point, I doomed myself to at least an equal number of failures as successes.

Sometimes, very little seems to separate the successes from the failures – a head that rises a bit too soon, a sweep a little foreshortened, just a minor tweak of the procedure and the entire enterprise fails. And then, there are those moments when it all comes together and seemingly without effort, the kayak is right side up, sometimes righted with such vigour that you almost capsize over the other side.

Unlike climbing or skiing where you can cheat a little bit (come on, we've all pulled on a draw occasionally, or side-slipped unglamorously down a steep slope) you really can't fake an eskimo roll – either you are up or you're not. There's no middle ground. 

Paddling In To Land Through Light Surf

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