Our in-house novice
Kat Wertzler joined Sea Kayaker in March as our new editorial assistant and moved smoothly and quickly into the routine of putting magazine and website materials together. It’s only natural that she has taken an active interest in kayaking when it is the focus of the work she does here. On a professional level, getting first-hand knowledge of kayaking will give her more insight into the articles she edits, but living as she does now, surrounded by bodies of water, having a way to get on the water is almost mandatory. We’re happy to help Kat get her feet wet and we hope you’ll enjoy her blog posts as she takes up paddling.
Head first (literally)
By Kat Wertzler
Until yesterday, I’d been in a kayak three times. When I started this job I knew the difference between tracking and kerning, but I needed to Google the word “hull.” As soon as I began editing my first manuscript here, I realized the obvious: people can and do “explore the world’s waterways” in these boats. I wanted in on this.
Intrigued, I signed up for the four-day Fundamentals of Sea Kayaking class at the Northwest Outdoor Center (NWOC) on the shores of Lake Union here in Seattle. I often feel discouraged by beginner’s classes, simply because they tend to stop—or require a new payment—before any form of mastery occurs. This class, though, sounded like I’d actually achieve something: not only would I learn to pull a dry-suit neck gasket over my head, but I’d also become confident in a self-rescue. (Me? A self-rescue? Check.)
The class began after work yesterday. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous when I saw that wet exits, self-rescues and assisted rescues were on the agenda for the very first session. I used to swim, so I’m comfortable in the water, but hanging upside-down with a boat attached to your hips wasn’t part of the individual medley. John and Eric, the instructors, were so calm about it, though, I didn’t have much hesitation flipping myself into the water when the time came.
On my first T-rescue, I struggled to pull myself onto the back deck. The second time, I remembered to kick and it was far easier. During the self-rescue I felt fairly on top of it until I inflated the paddle float before trying to slip it on the paddle blade. Good to learn that lesson in calm, 61˚F water. I’m struggling with my forward stroke—I think too hard about it. A few times, I found myself flexing my abs simply because I knew I was supposed to be using them. I felt more connected to the kayak than I expected; it was easy to trust its balance on the water while assisting a rescue, using the paddle float or floating over a larger boat’s wake.
From now until the class ends on Sunday I’ll be on, off, in and out of the water—a regular occurrence for most of you, but completely new to me. By Monday I’ll have paddled at Deception Pass, Puget Sound’s best-known tidal playground for kayakers.
I’ll blog about my progress as I learn, and potentially after the class is over if I gain enough skills to continue. I’m still trying to figure out why my observations as a novice might interest all of you seasoned paddlers, but if nothing else, this will be my platform for sharing my experiences with you the way many of you have already shared so candidly with me here at Sea Kayaker.
Thanks for reading, and more to come.
Kat Wertzler is the editorial assistant at Sea Kayaker.
Eric teaches us how to properly hold the paddle
After the self-rescue, getting ready to pump