Monday, June 21, 2010

Canoeing Coupledom


BF Matt has wanted a canoe for a long time. I've wanted a canoe since long before Matt was my BF. We've been together for 4 1/2 years now and FINALLY, between the two of us, we own one canoe!

For the last 4 1/2 years we have poured over brochure after brochure and website after website from various canoe manufacturers from around the country, debating over our needs and arguing over how each of us intend to use the canoe.

Matt finally convinced me that he doesn't actually want to take on white-water, so much as he wanted a canoe that could handle occassional rocks and strong current, and I finally convinced him that we needed one big enough for dogs AND gear...ok, he had to work harder to convince me than I did him.

My canoe vision involves a lot of calm, flat water with scenic vistas where it won't result in catastrophe if I stop paddling. The BF's vision involves rivers. With current and obstacles that will require focus, physical strength and endurance, and the ability to communicate clearly, quickly, and agreeably.

Maybe we should have each purchased a solo canoe?

Instead, we took the time and spent the money and eventually agreed upon a Wenonah Spirit II, 17 foot, tadem canoe. It's HUGE.

Seriously! I had no idea 17 feet was so freakin long! Our 2 car garage is destined to be a one car/one canoe garage. We had planned to hang the canoe from the rafters, allowing one vehicle to be parked underneath it. But the length of the canoe prohibits hanging, seeing as how the garage door requires some space in order to open.

So far, we have gotten pretty good at putting the canoe on top of the Xterra, tying it down, untying, taking it off the roof rack, etc etc. The BF has even conceded that I tie better knots that he does.

We have had the canoe for only a few weeks now, and it has been in the water twice. Our nearest lake is half an hour away and full of motorized water craft during these hot summer days, so our most convenient option for canoeing is the St. John's River. So our canoeing plan thus far has been more consistant with the BF's vision than mine.

For the last two weekends we have loaded up the canoe and driven to the end of Lover's Lane where there is a small parking lot designed specifically for people who plan on drowing in the river-- err, wait-- for people to use the bike/running trail that runs along the river. That's where we carry the canoe to the river, just upstream of one of the many little "dams" along the river-- I don't know what they really are, not sure what purporse they serve, I just know we don't want to go over one in the canoe.

Then we take off and paddle like hell upstream for up to 2 miles, which is how far we have till we reach the next "whoop-de-doo" (common local name for those little dams.)

Now this is the part where we have the most trouble. I get to sit in the front, Matt sits in the back.

Apparently it's my job to steer the canoe, which is much harder to do when paddling upstream as you have to keep the "nose" of the boat pointed straight into the current or the river tries to grab you and send you into a flat spin-- and paddling upstream is all the more difficult when your canoe is sideways.

The BF insists that the best way for me to "steer" is to just paddle on one side. Which may end up being true enough, but I do NOT have the strength and/or stamina to just paddle on one side!

Our first outing resulted in success in reaching our destination despite the bickering. It also resulted in my learning that the dang canoe is so long that I cannot reach the BF with my paddle to whack him upside the head from my seat.

Thus my advice to other couples seeking canoeing bliss in their relationship-- get a shorter canoe. Having your partner within whacking distance can prove essential when he insists that you have not properly communicated your intention to switch the side you are paddling on after you have repeatedly forewarned him that your arm is VERY tired and that you canNOT continue to paddle on the one side and that you HAVE to switch sides or take a break...only to be admonished that you must keep paddling on the same side.

This is exactly the way I remember our first canoe trip. I told him several times that I was going to have to switch! But he kept telling me that I couldn't switch. So when I switched sides, he insists that I didn't tell him I was going to switch.

Our second outing went much smoother with better communication, more cooperation, and more switching of sides. Leading me to believe that tandem canoeing might work out for us afterall.

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