KAYAK TIME IS FAMILY TIME
By Tom Schlichter
From shooting rapids to exploring remote locations far off the beaten track, kayak fanatics list a wide variety of exciting and entertaining reasons for their love of the sport. Still, sometimes, the simple stuff holds the greatest appeal.
“I just love to be on the water with my family,” says Rita Hill of Sacramento, California. “It’s as straightforward as that.”
When Rita first became interested in kayaking, she had no idea such a simple point would be her ultimate kayak focus. “My husband and I moved to Sacramento, CA, about a year-and-a-half ago,” she explains. “As we explored our new surroundings, I noticed all the paddlers on nearby Lodi Lake. They looked to be having a lot of fun so I thought I might enjoy it, too.”
As she began to inquire about kayaking possibilities, Rita was introduced to sit-on-tops and hard-shelled crafts. She wasn’t comfortable with either, especially considering that she has a bad back. “They seemed awkward to carry and a bit uncomfortable,” the retired photographer and former public information officer revealed. “Then I found some inflatable kayaks on-line and the Sea Eagle page really caught my eye. I was immediately impressed with the videos and decided to give it a try.”
Rita ordered up an SE330 and was thrilled right from the start. At 11’ 2” and just 26 lbs., it was easy to lift and maneuver, rugged, big enough for two people and small enough for one.
“For me, it seemed perfect,” continued Rita. “I could easily load it into the back seat of my truck so I didn’t have to worry about getting a kayak rack. I started to go paddling on my own, then my husband got one, my daughter got one, and my in-laws picked one up as well. Now we’re one big happy kayaking family. We all have inflatable Sea Eagles and we’ve been enjoying this adventure for the past two years.”
When she’s out by herself Rita likes to fish from her Sea Eagle, targeting anything that will bite but mostly catching rainbow trout. For this she favors small lakes that aren’t too rough, noting that tranquil water tends to be the family’s preferred kayak option as well.
“None of us are into whitewater rides,” she explains. “We paddle for recreation and exercise, and because we love getting out on the water together. Our kayaks (Rita’s in-laws have an SE370 and her daughter has an SE330) are sturdy enough to handle a chop if they need to but given the choice we’d rather just relax and enjoy ourselves.”
Most of Rita’s personal kayak time is spent on Lodi Lake, but she’ll meet up with family at a variety of waters located within a few hours of home. Recently, she visited Donnor Lake in Truckee, CA with her husband and in-laws.
“We were on the water every day,” she revealed, “just taking it all in. We enjoyed seeing wildlife, watching people on their SUPs and seeing how far from camp we could paddle and still get back in time for dinner.”
Rita and her family like to travel to each new destination with their Sea Eagle kayaks deflated so there is no need to store them on top of the car. Once they arrive, they’ll carry their small fleet down to the shoreline, lay a plastic tarp on the ground, roll out each vessel and inflate them using Sea Eagle foot pumps. Each kayak takes less than ten minutes to fully prepare.
“You might think it strange,” says Rita, “but I really love the time we spend inflating and deflating our kayaks. We are all helping each other, talking, laughing and doing something together. That kind of personal interaction is way better than having your face buried in a cell phone. We are all working toward an ultimate goal: getting out on the water and enjoying life as a family. It’s really something special and our Sea Eagle kayaks make a great focal point for getting the party started.”
Note: All photos courtesy of Rita Hill.