It’s Christmas. That means a trip to Florida to visit Laura’s sister, Amy. Using the new kayak racks Laura gave me for my birthday, I brought down the tandem that we got last summer so that we could paddle it out on the Indian River. After an 11 hour drive, I had to hit the water as soon as I got there.
The water was quite calm, and sun was just setting as I paddled out into the channel. Since it was dusk I decided I didn’t want to get out into the main channel, but paddled out far enough so that I could watch the sun set. It was a short paddle, but enough to improve my mood immeasurably.
The next day it there was a cool breeze, but it was still a great day for paddling. This was the first time I had taken the tandem out for a serious solo paddle, so I was curious to see how it would perform. I set the front seat back in the solo position, but I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the foot pegs. I figured out that the ones for solo paddling were missing.
Once I got out of Amy’s little channel the wind picked up and and things got very choppy. I had planned to paddle out to one of the spoil islands. However, with the chop, I didn’t want to be out in open water in an untested boat. I paddle about 400 yards offshore, then turned northward toward Harbor Branch. The plan was to head up to Harbor Branch against the wind, then hug the coast on the way back with the wind at my back.
The Pamlico 145T Tandem is a heavy boat, and I wasn’t sure how it would do as a solo craft. It turned out to be much quicker than I had thought, despite the weight. It’s not as fast as my Tsunami, but would probably keep pace with the Pungo. Unfortunately, it didn’t track very straight. It had a tendency to do Crazy Ivans when I stopped paddling. It wasn.t as bad as my whitewater boats, but was still annoying.
As I paddled back I stayed close to the bank. There were lots of water birds and even a couple of osprey in the trees.
Along this section is the Harbor Branch Aquaculture division and the D. J. Wilcox Wilderness area. There are several channels back into the mangroves. I paddled back into a couple of the little side areas.
I paddled back slowly with the wind. When I got back to Amy’s neighborhood I took one more side trip in the canal just on the other side of her peninsula. This had been a mobile home park until it was destroyed by a hurricane (two hurricanes, actually.) The area was taken over by FEMA trailers, but those were eventually removed, too. Now there are just some abandoned sheds at the water’s edge.
The whole paddle came to about 5 miles. Overall I was pleased with the performance of the kayak in its solo configuration. I think that foot pegs would have helped with control, but it wasn’t too bad. This is a good recreational boat, but I’m not sure I would want to take it on a long excursion.
When I got back to the house I made some calls, and I found that one of the local kayak shops had the type of foot braces I need. I got them installed, and I’m hoping they make a difference tomorrow.