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One More Kayak

When I first started kayaking I didn’t entirely understand the people who had 10 or more kayaks. If you ask someone who has that many kayaks how many they really need, they’ll respond with “one more than I already have.” I like to think of myself as a minimalist, and always like to purchase items that serve multiple purposes, so I couldn’t comprehend this need. However, after getting enough kayaking experience I finally understand this desire to always have one more kayak, as evidenced by my most recent acquisition of a third kayak.

I started with a Mariner in 2004. I had been renting a lot of kayaks and had previously tried a Mariner but had decided that, while I loved how it handled, it was too expensive for me and I wasn’t yet certain I was ready for that commitment. However, when I learned that the Broze brothers were going to close their business (the first time) I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to buy one in the future. I decided I was truly ready to buy a kayak and I jumped in to buy a Mariner Elan. It seemed tippy to me at the time and I didn’t have very good edging skills, but it was a good kayak to grow into. It maneuvered beautifully, it handled extremely well in the wind (I often had weather cocking problems in rented kayaks), and it would meet my needs for kayak camping.

Loading gear 

I still own this kayak and can’t imagine getting rid of it. It is truly the perfect camping kayak with the volume it holds, the low front deck is perfect, and I’ve mastered edging this beautiful kayak.

After a couple years Richard and I were introduced to traditional Greenland kayaking. I adopted the idea of using a stick and quickly realized I didn’t want to go back to a Euro paddle. But at first I laughed at the idea of getting a skin-on-frame kayak. What was the need for another kayak when my Mariner was perfect? Well, we went to SSTIKS (South Sound Traditional Inuit Kayaking Symposium) and I tried some of the qajaqs (traditional spelling of kayak) and understood.

A kayak that fits like a glove
Traditional kayaks are designed to fit your body exactly. Richard and I spent time measuring ourselves following various guidelines, and then laid out the basics for a skin-on-frame kayak. Working with Bob Kelim over several weekend trips to Nahcotta, WA, we built custom kayaks (See http://kayakgrrl.livejournal.com/1084.html). These kayaks are designed to move when you move; twitch and it maneuvers the way you want. This kayak truly fits like a glove. Designed for my height, my feet sit exactly right on a foot rest; the width was built for my size; the coaming was measured and installed at the right angle to ensure I can slide right in; the masik is placed exactly where you’d want thigh braces; and the back is in just the right place making lay-back rolls happen properly.

Jeanette's kayak 

Because it fits like a glove it is an extremely low volume kayak and is not usable for camping, the perfect excuse for keeping the Mariner! It is extremely light so it is easy to pick up and toss on the car for quick paddles, no assistance needed. Seriously, I can pick it up with one hand if needed, and I can portage it down to the water carrying it on my head.

A performance kayak enters the picture
A third kayak? It sounds like I have the best of both worlds with a light boat that fits like a glove, and another for longer trips. However, ever since I tried the Illusion on a trip to Alaska in 2008 (see http://kayakgrrl.livejournal.com/tag/sitka%20alaska), I’ve been dreaming of owning an Illusion. My minimalist mentality kept preventing me from buying one, but after coveting them for two years, when I saw a used one for sale I couldn’t help but jump on the opportunity. I’ll admit that the main reason I wanted an Illusion is how beautifully it rolls; I can do a majority of the Greenland competition rolls in it. Interestingly, I can do more rolls in this kayak than my Mariner or skin-on-frame (which is a better paddling than rolling kayak). However, it is also a performance machine (see the recent review in Sea Kayaker Magazine). It is the most maneuverable kayak I’ve been in, you can do a 360 on a dime! I love putting it on edge and paddling around, it is super easy to glide and maneuver around people when paddling with groups. It handles just fine in the wind and has a skeg if needed. Though I know the Illusion can be packed for camping, it is a lower volume kayak which gives me the perfect excuse to keep the Mariner for long trips.

New Kayak 

One more kayak
Again, many will say they always need one more kayak than what they already have. Three kayaks certainly seems like enough, but I could see another one in our future! We always talk about traveling to places we want to kayak: Prince Edward Island or even abroad. If we were to buy folding kayaks we would be able to bring a kayak on the plane instead of having to deal with shipping a kayak! There is also the question of owning a white water boat. Richard already has one (he has a Mariner Max, skin-on-frame, and Jackson white water boat). With all my bicycling plus sea kayaking I’m not sure I can take on river kayaking too, but it is always a possibility. For now, the “one more” will most likely be a folding kayak at some distant point in the future.



More than one is great!

I totally agree with what you've written here. Renting boats is a great way to have the boat you need for the day you need it. You don't have to own the boat just to use it that weekend or for that day's paddle or when you're travelling. It's also a good way to become familiar with the kind of boat you might want to own. I test-paddled the Necky Eliza at a paddle festival, and later rented one for a two-hour outing that confirmed the rightness of this boat for me. When the five-month-old rental kayak went on sale at the end of the summer, I bought it, for a third off the price of a brand-new one.
The Elia is a great contrast to the small inflatable kayak that I use about twice as often. The little inflatable is an earlier version of the Lagoon from Advanced Elements -- very light, very stable. I love being able to carry it easily down to the nearby beach, or take it on the bus.
There's no shame in owning more than one kayak, when they're for different kinds of outings, and especially when you share 'em with friends.

IF you ever think about selling your Elan please contact me : )
Enjoyed your writing and pics and was shaking my head for quite a while on the one with the dumb and dumber in the double.

Beautiful boat and I have been looking for one for years....

Thank you

Tom Marley
Will have a hard time parting with the Elan but will keep you in mind if I ever consider it! It is a great camping kayak among other things. We are now in the market for a double for kayaking with our daughter though!!! Yet another kayak...