I had always been told, and so I believed,
That at 200 lbs kayaking wasn't for me.
"Nev'r saw a fat yaker" locals would say,
While slipping into cockpit holes, and slithering away.
So I signed up for Jenny Skinny, and lost a lot of weight,
Then bought me a beauty, leaving fatville in my wake.
A British such and such, boy did I look snooty,
Clad in bright red dry suit with attached black booties.
Although it was April, a maiden voyage beckoned,
I had all the gear and a few hometown lessons.
My buddy couldn't make it, and said with a sigh,
"Not dressed for the cold. I don't want to die".
So I launched the new kayak all on my own,
Trying to remember all I was told.
Wind in my hair, under polar fleece cap,
And fiberglass blades feathered to slap,
At waves, on swells, or brace for a mishap.
But this spring day showed clear blue skies,
The calmest of waters, like glass they did shine,
The sea foam caressed my hull and gulls wined.
A seal's gentle bark bid me "Don't be too late!"
When I left the cove and headed out through a rocky coastal gate.
Lobster buoys bobbed "Good-day" when I passed them by,
The view from the deck was truly sublime,
I let go a sigh.
Then racing passed me with speed and savvy,
A motorboat full of teens looking oh so happy.
I reached out to brace with skill you would envy,
Then decided to roll from impulse or training.
Sweeping my paddle very swift & sure,
The yak I was in met a bang and gave a whirl.
The cold tempted a gasp, while there I sat,
Looking sleek, skilled and smart upside down in my yak.
Slapping the hull for my left-behind-buddy
Who'd been smarter than me. Yikes! This wasn't funny!
Then to my amazement I felt a hand,
It was big & rough & felt very grand.
It placed my palm on a sturdy paddle shaft,
So pulling myself up, I righted my craft.
It was not my cautious friend in his wide cockpit Loon,
That assisted with rescue singing a tune.
Meeting my gaze was a huge guy named Burley
From a sit-on-top kayak he loved to call Hurley.
"What kind of yak is that?" I spoke in awe,
Because the guy had to be 300 lbs and tall.
"A sit-on-top kayak," through a gruff beard he smiled,
"I've been touring these waters since I was a child."
"It's a pretty boat you've got there," he said
with true admiration,
"Yours too" but I couldn't help but feel some indignation.
Oh it was a beautiful craft and outfitted fine, with compass and
And gear much like mine.
There were hatches fore & aft, a cushy seat and nice backrest,
His paddle same brand as mine and cold weather gear the best.
"So where did you learn rescue techniques and skill?"
"And outfit that way?" We rolled on a swell.
"Topkayaker.net!" was his reply, "I keep my homepage
there all the time!"
Then Burley winked, and turned his yak on a dime.
I never saw him again, like the lost half of a shell,
But not before he made perfectly sure I was well.
That cold spring night for home I then set,
And hardly could wait to surf Topkayaker.net!
Old Burley was right; the kayak instruction was amazing,
On everything from cold weather gear to tools for navigation.
Articles on touring, nature & environment,
surf, sailing, diving, fishing, and how to choose the right equipment.
A forum for beginners and people like me,
A shop with parts & advice on repairs and remedies.
Articles for improving, performance and paddling,
Buyers guides for pfds, boat choice and club kayaking.
I now have a sit-on-top and a few extra pounds,
Must say I did miss them and am so glad I found,
A safe way to kayak even without them around.
So I will always be grateful for an ocean that brung,
A sit-on-top kayaker who was rather rotund.
One Burley on a Hurley, and that's all she sung.
Author comment: This was inspired by many folks we've met at kayak events and online. Of special note was the conversation of two young men overheard while they exchanged concerns about their stocky build at the end of the classroom section of an American Canoe Association Kayak Instructor Certification course down along the Mid-Atlantic coast. They needed the credential for their summer outdoor guide jobs and the future appeared bleak. The equipment provided was uncomfortable and a "tight fit". One of them, with the most perfect Maine accent said: "Well, you know what they say: Tain't no such thing as a fat yak'r."
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