As someone who started traveling a little later in life, there are many “firsts” on my journeys. My first plane ride was at 36. I first went parasailing at 39 and my first hot air balloon ride was at 42. This year has had it’s share of firsts too, including motorized kayaks.
Conquering my fears
I was afraid to kayak. I’m not sure why because I’ve always been a strong swimmer and I love the water, but kayaks intimidated me. Perhaps it was the idea of flipping in the water and not being able to get back in the boat, a concern I may still have today, or I wasn’t sure I could handle the paddling. Either way, I had avoided the opportunity every time it arose, until 2015.
I was on a press trip where kayaking was on the agenda and I knew I was going to have to do it whether I wanted to or not. As the time grew closer, I became more and more anxious. A friend and colleague graciously offered to go in a double kayak with me and took on the majority of the paddling responsibility. Her kindness turned me into a true kayaker. I have been out on the water many times since then and I know I can paddle as near or far as need be.
My recent visit to Fort Pierce, Florida brought me another opportunity to kayak. I was looking forward to it and not thinking it would be anything out of the ordinary, but I was wrong! These kayaks were not your run of the mill kayaks, they were motorized kayaks! Each kayak has a lightweight trolling motor that is battery operated and environmentally sound with no gas or oil drips, no toxic fumes and no noise pollution. They are steered with an easy to use tiller system.
So why would one want a motorized kayak? I wondered this too. The concept was developed to make kayaking an inclusive activity. People with mobility issues, amputees and other people with physical limitations can’t always manage to paddle a kayak. This allows them to enjoy nature on the water. Having spent twenty years supporting people with disabilities, I was impressed, but I was also nervous. I had to learn how to operate this new type of kayak and my old fears resurfaced. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry long. I was given a lifejacket and safety instructions before being taught how to work the boat. Other than getting my left and right mixed up a few times (that’s normal, right?), I caught on quickly and sailed across the water.
Experience Nature on the water
My guide spoke about the mangroves as if he knew each one of them by name. He offered education on the varieties of birds, trees and marine life in the area. Our tour was cut short by a fast-moving storm, but I enjoyed the new experience and the time to explore nature in Florida.
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