Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Golden eagle, seen kayaking on McNary Lake, Sauvie’s Island. Yellow feet mark it as an eagle (vs. an osprey).

Boatlocked. When you live aboard a boat and spend much of your time at anchor, just as some folks get landlocked, liveaboards at anchor get boat locked. That is if you want to explore you’ve gotta get off the boat. 

When I’m with Wayne, we motor off in our dinghy with its outboard. When I want the freedom to come and go as I please, I kayak.

Serendipity’s newest adventure “car” the Aquglide Chelan 120 (12 foot) inflatable kayak. By our side. waiting for a ride.

Problem is, at a little over on eight feet, my last boat kayak was so short and wide, it didn’t glide or track (go straight rather than zig-zag forward). All that meant a lot of work to not get very far very fast. 

Mt. Hood, Laurance Lake from my Aquaglide kayak. We just returned from a road trip there.
Despite that, I did manage to put some miles on my last kayak. I only paid $100 for it, new, so it didn’t owe me anything. But as I was gearing up to find its third leak* I decided it was time for a more robust, speedier and more efficient kayak. That meant something longer.

*The first was when I tore the skeg off, hitting an underwater log. The second occurred when we discovered our propane heater chimney is a very bad place to set your inflatable kayak. The last leak – well – I am not sure how it happened,

Waterlily, Trillium Lake kayak trip. Same road trip as Laurance Lake.

The tricky bit is there’s little room on our boat to store a kayak. “You’ve got ten feet,” Wayne told me. Problem is a high-performance ten-foot kayak, like the Eddyline Sky, was $1200. Wayyy outside my budget.

Got a kick out of seeing this dog enjoying the kayak ride in this Explorer inflatable kayak.
My Aquaglide tracked much better than it.

Plus, even at ten feet, a hard kayak is challenging to store on on our boat. I would likely need to spend another $400 or so on racks for it. And the awkwardness of getting the kayak in and out of the racks and lowered from our boat to the water and back.

Mt. Hood from Trillium Lake, entering the lily pad area on my Aquaglide kayak.

Nik, my awesome former manager at West Marine’s Portland Oregon flagship store suggested checking out the twelve-foot Aquaglide. “It’s a high-pressure inflatable, like an inflatable stand-up paddleboard. It’s light, long, has a skeg for tracking and takes care of your storage issues. If you don’t like it, you can return it.” 

Dragonflies were out in force when I kayaked on Trillium Lake.

I couldn’t resist. Nik was even willing to get me the Chelan on special order, as west Marine carries the Blackfoot, as the Chelan was rated better for the Columbia River’s rougher water, where I usually anchor. With the West Marine hand pump, it takes me only about 10 minutes to inflate my kayak.

Kayaking McNary Lake on Sauvie’s Island. Thanks, Keith Morgan for taking the pic.

The Aquaglide Chelan retails for $799. Honestly, if I didn’t have the storage and transport issues and a more generous budget, I would prefer a sit-in Eddyline Sky or Skylark. They’re faster and track better even without a skeg, and their snug cockpit is more responsive. The Chelan is a champ in flatter water and rolling waves. In wind and chop, let’s just say it’s more of a workout. For the price, the storage, ease of maneuverability outside the water and the relative performance, the Chelan is a great kayak for my needs. 

Thanks, Nik and West Marine!

Trillium Lake in the lily pads, Mt. Hood peeking behind the treeline. Miss the ‘gators but the mountains are a fair trade.

“I’m going to have a hard time leaving this to head home to Indiana,” said the fellow I chatted with (in the red kayak in the image above). “Everything’s better in a kayak,” he concluded. I’d agree, except Wayne doesn’t kayak and there are definitely some things we do together that are more fun. Still, any day on my kayak is a good day.

Location Location
Usually this summer my kayak will get me from boat to shore, and putter the areas around St. Helens and Sauvies off our boat. At the moment we’re docked at St Helens, Oregon, though we just returned from a road trip up to the Mt. Hood area. It was easy to transport my kayak in my Prius, roll it out, inflate it near my launch site and reverse the process in a jif. Wherever my Chelan goes, adventures await.