Kayak Humor

Paddling Delaware and the eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia

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You might be a kayaker if.. Roughing it easier with eyes closed
You might be a kayaker if ... part 2   PADDLING VOCABULARY
Things that you can say as a kayaker   The complete list of paddling related sayings ...
Kayak Physics Sea Quotes       

Kayaking for Klutzes



Michael Phelps at a very Young Age


Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly; but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

Things that you can say as a kayaker  (thanks Vince)  (email us your best lines) delmarvakayak@comcast.net

 Nice rack!!!
 When I say "Hut-ho", we'll switch.
 Mine's longer by a couple inches.
 I have to buy more tie-downs.
 You need to lengthen your stroke.
 She's one of the fastest women I know!
 I find neoprene too constricting.
 Let's roll over a few more times and call it a night!
 It's a tight fit, but if I wiggle I can get in.
 He was riding my ass for hours.
 I'm switching partners next time.
 I need a smaller shaft.
 I'm going to hit the Assawoman this weekend.
 I did it with a partner last year, but I'm doing it solo this year.
 She's always willing to go out with a group of guys.
 Steve has a much faster stroke rate than me.
 She's got some cosmetic blemishes, but she rides real nice.
 He asked me to pick him up a new skirt.

The complete list of paddling related sayings ...

    * This vehicle stops at all river crossings
    * In Anticipation Of Precipitation
    * Life's short- paddle hard
    * Love many, trust a few but always paddle your own canoe
    * Half the paddle, twice the paddler
    * Follow me to the putin
    * Rollin' on the river
    * Take me to the river
    * I remember when kayaking was dangerous and sex was safe
    * Paddle solo, sleep tandem
    * Shut up and Paddle
    * Surf New Hampshire
    * Frankly, my dear, I don't want a dam.
    * Dam Politicians, not Rivers
    * Paddlers do it rapidly
    * I'd rather be paddlin'
    * Aquaholic
    * You deserve a good paddling
    * We all live downstream
    * Runnin' down a dream,
      Runnin' down a stream
    * Kayakers get eaten more often
    * Kayakers love to play in holes
    * Kayakers roll over without falling out
    * Amusement park rides are for people who don't know how to paddle!"

    * Kayakers roll over and do it again ... swimmers just shrink

Kayak Physics

In response to too many technically verbose emails on the Paddlewise site about weathercocking Mark Arnold wrote this:

Date: Thu, 20 Oct 2005 18:09:24 -0500
From: "Mark Arnold"
Subject: [Paddlewise] Kayak Physics (Humor)

Being an old country boy from South Texas I found this physics of
weathercocking discussion bewildering although fascinating.  I decided that
I should try to learn a little more about the fundamental concepts

I started out with some Internet searches.  I tried "center of lateral
resistance" first.   I am not sure what I did wrong, but I kept winding up
at a site about some Eastern European freedom fighters opposing Russian
imperialism.   I then tried "center of gravity".  Again I did not quite get
what I expected.  I kept coming to this Washington, DC.  think tank.  Their
mission statement was something about  "Exploring and extolling the
gravitas of using the word gravitas" in an appropriate manner.  After
reading their information I almost became convinced that a  kayak had to
rotate about its "center of gravitas".  Of course the "center of gravitas"
of a kayak would change depending on the BCU rating of its paddler.  Some
country boys and technology just do not mix well.

Next I decided to try the local library.  They made a big deal in 1990
about getting in some new books so I figured I should try them.   They did
not have any books by that Newton guy that kept getting mentioned in the
posts.  They did have "The Joy of Fig Newton Desserts", but it was checked
out and had 2 people on the waiting list so I decided to pass.   They did
have a couple of physics books by this guy "Quantum".    It was a little
(okay a whole lot) confusing.  But I got to the part about this physicist
Heisenberg and his idea  that you could not really know for certain where
you were.   I was thinking, "This guy must have gone kayaking with a lot of
the same trip leaders who lead my trips."   Maybe he even spent some time
in that Lake Caddo cypress swamp.  Then the proverbial light bulb came on.
If I did not know for certain were I was, then I could not know for certain
where I had been, since some time in the past it was where I was,   If I
did not know where I was or where I had been, then how could I know what
rotated about what to get me there.   Maybe this "Quantum" was going to
explain all the confusion. 

Sure enough I think I finally got the explanation for all the differences
of opinions.  It turns out that when you think you are paddling a kayak you
are really paddling a wave.  Not on a wave but the kayak itself is actually
a wave since all matter is actually made up of waves.   Every kayaker knows
what happens when one wave runs into another, its clapotis.  And every
kayaker knows that clapotis means "CONFUSED" seas.  Based on this new
"Quantum" physics I think it is safe to say that there is no way to resolve
the confusion in this rotation question.

By the way, this guy "Quantum" really has a diverse background.  He was
also writing about that Deep Space Nine Ferengi character "Quark"  and how
he liked all these different flavors.  Some of them were strange, but
others were charming.  Who knew physics could be so interesting.

Just when I thought I had it all worked out, this college guy walked by and
ruined my day.  He explained that most of this "Quantum" stuff was outdated
(the books were 15 years old) and that all the physicists today say that
"String Theory" is the only thing that matters.  It seems that things are
not waves, they are strings.   I was a little disappointed, but then it
dawned on me.  All I had to do was check out that "Handbook of Knots" and I
could get all these ideas tied together.   I'll  write you again when I
figure how to do it.

Mark J. Arnold


You might be a kayaker if...

You "pour over" streamflow readings the way a stockbroker scans the markets everyday.
The longer dry time you have, the more you want to kick your dog
You practically salivate at the sound of rainfall.
There's no room on your speed-dial for anything but guage readings and the numbers of people with nicknames like Psycho.
You paid more for a roof-rack for the boat than you spent for anniversary presents.
You tie down the boat better than you seatbelt in the kids.
"Waterproof" means "a little damp" or "might-float"
Your friends or relatives are shocked when you answer the phone at home on a weekend.
House guests ask you why you replaced your living room sofa with a sea kayak...
You can't drive over a bridge without looking for water under it.
The smell of old polypro doesn't bother you.
Your wife says you love your boat and your boat'n buddies more than her, and she sounds just like your first wife...and your second.
Driving 1200 km for a weekend on the river doesn't seem strange to you.

Your idea of a complete first aid kit is a roll of duct tape
Window shade means more than keeping the sun out.
You choose a new car based on whether or not your rack system will fit it
A dress shirt and tie no longer bother you, because they're looser than a drysuit neck gasket
You co-workers (and non-boating friends, family and your spouse) will not ride in your vehicle between March and October because of the ode de polypro.
The sight of a waterfall gives you the uncontrollable urge to urinate in a nearby bush- while you search out the line...
You call your buddies in order of shuttle ability
Your boat is worth more than your car
Even in the dead of winter, you never actually lose the PFD tan lines...

You build your new house as close as possible to the flood plain.
Your dog loves to roll in your pile of paddling clothes.
You're all dressed up and don't notice that you're being rained on.
You ask the clerk at The Bon Ton how well these dress shoes hold up to immersion.
You measure major purchases relative to the cost of a new boat...('Hmmm,
that new computer will cost me about 2 1/2 kayak units')
You're the one with the Bright Sunny Smile on the Cold Rainy Day.
Every once in a while you touch your paddle, just to touch it...every once in a while you let go of your paddle, just to eat something.
When your non boating friends visit your home or your car they ask "Do you have dogs?"
You have no trouble saying "Rotomolded Crosslink Polyethelyne" ten times fast.
The idea of a 20,000 km per year car lease seems ridiculous.
You have a bathing suit that's wet from March to October.
Your Mom has stopped saying "be careful this weekend".
You've never setup a tent when it's light out.
You've tied up your mate using either a taught-line or trucker's hitch.
You have friends that you don't recognize without their helmet, pfd, paddling jacket, and boat ensemble...
You can ID make and model on a car topped kayak at a quarter mile...
"Wet, sticky hole" and "blowing a ferry" in casual conversation don't
give you pause...
You always have sinus congestion on monday morning..
You freely discuss how much you and others weigh, and don't feel self-concious about it (or about asking others how much they weigh).
You leave your glasses strap on at night
Your only considerations when buying a car are ground clearance, and the size of the rain gutters.
All career,personal and financial decisions are judged by the criteria of "How will this increase my paddling time?"
You visit Niagara Falls and think "This may be runnable."
You build a 2 car garage addition and you still can't park your car inside.
You bug out on your wife and kids to go paddling for the weekend because you are SURE your priorities are right.
You deliberately watch the whole commercial just to see the kayak on the car...
You maneuver your car on five-lane streets by eddying out behind trucks and making S-moves in the left turn lane. And you lean into the turns.
` If you live in a town with a river running through it, you give street directions with descriptions like "upstream of the ..." or "two blocks
down on river left ..."
You find yourself humming Weather Channel tunes.
It takes longer and longer to get your "land legs" back. Solid ground "feels funny"
You feel all mushy inside when your wife gives you a drytop for Christmas.
You keep moving the car seat forward, so you can bend your knees and feel good and wedged in for pulling maneuvers on the freeway.
You can't look at water in a gutter without imagining tiny runs and miniature waves and holes.
You start driving around with your PFD and helmet on because you have noticed that other drivers tend to give you the right of way.
After a car wreck, the first thing you check for is damage to your boat.

The only thing you worry about when getting naked just about *anywhere* is whether or not you'll get a ticket!

You might be a kayaker if . Part 2. .

  1. The heat in the kitchen while dinner is being made is just right for drying wet polypro.
  2. You regard any form of motorized watercraft as cheating. A wetsuit and paddling jacket is appropriate attire in any waterfront restaurant.
  3. You already have several kayaks and are trying to convince your spouse that you really need another one.
  4. You paid more for a roof rack than you spent for your anniversary presents (combined).
  5. You tie down the boat better than you seatbelt in the kids.
  6. "Waterproof" only means "a little damp" or "might-float".
  7. Your friends or relatives are shocked when you answer the phone at home on a weekend.
  8. Houseguests ask you why you replaced your living room sofa with a sea kayak.
  9. You can't drive over a bridge without looking for water under it. The smell of old polypro doesn't bother you.
  10. Your wife says you love your boat and your paddling buddies more than you love her. She sounds just like your first wife -- and your second.
  11. Driving 800 miles for a weekend on a river or a lake doesn't seem strange to you.
  12. Your idea of a complete first aid kit is a roll of duct tape.
  13. You use a river trip to wash sand and seaweed from your boat.
  14. You choose a new car based on whether or not your rack system will fit it.
  15. A dress shirt and tie no longer bother you, because they're looser than a drysuit neck gasket.
  16. You owe more money on your sea kayak and accessories than you do on your car. Or your sea kayak is worth more than your car.
  17. The sight of a person in a tight rubber suit doesn't seem kinky.
  18. You have ever gotten frostbitten and sunburned on the same day.
  19. You know which leaves make good toilet paper.
  20. You're all dressed up and don't notice that you're being rained on.
  21. Every once in a while you touch your paddle, just to touch it.
  22. Every once in a while you let go of your paddle, just to eat, or something.
  23. You've never set up a tent when it's light out.
  24. You have friends that you don't recognize without their PFD, paddling jacket, and spray skirt.
  25. Your dog loves to roll in your pile of paddling clothes. You can ID make and model on a car topped sea kayak at a quarter mile.
  26. All career, personal and financial decisions are judged by the criteria of, "How will this increase my paddling time?"
  27. You build a two-car garage addition and you still can't park your car inside.
  28. You bug out on your spouse and kids to go paddling for the weekend because you are SURE your priorities are right.
  29. You find yourself humming Weather Channel tunes.
  30. You change oil in the campground in the evening because you haven't had a weekend home in so long and you can't afford to pay to have it done.
  31. You've lost count of the number of boats you have in your garage or back yard.
  32. You've gone boating in conditions where you normally wouldn't go outside.
  33. Your friends call you a "gear head" and you don't know what they mean.
  34. You've toyed with the idea of just leaving your boat and gear loaded on your vehicle.
  35. When you hear about a guy in a skirt you think nothing of it.
  36. When you go shopping, Gore-Tex stock goes up.
  37. You buy new clothes not by how good they look but by how fast they'll dry.
  38. You haven't missed roll practice at the YMCA in three years.
  39. You divide your life into workdays and kayaking days.
  40. You're talking paddling to non-paddlers and not realizing when they've glazed over with boredom or left the room.
  41. All your rendezvous and evenings out on the town start/end by meeting with your friends at the local paddling store.
  42. All your new shirts are some type of long underwear.
  43. You start thinking seriously about building a paddle pool in your
  44. Your 75 year old mother gives you silk long johns for Christmas.
  45. "Small craft advisories" make you praise the Ocean gods.
  46. You measure major purchases relative to the cost of a new boat -- "Hmmm, that new computer will cost me about 2 1/2 kayak units."
  47. You feel all mushy inside when your spouse gives you a drytop for Christmas.
  48. After a car wreck, the first thing you check for is damage to your boat.
  49. You keep a tide chart in your car.
  50. You highlight the highest tides of year on your chart.
  51. You're old friends with a great blue heron.
  52. You have a huge plastic storage tub that rides in the back seat to hold your wet clothes.


Posted on Sun, Sep. 21, 2003  Miami Herald

Roughing it easier with eyes closed


Every so often I head for Sun Valley, Idaho, because I have friends there, and because Idaho contains large quantities of nature. The problem is that my friends are never content to sit around with a cool beverage and look at the nature from a safe distance, as nature intended. No, my friends want to go out and interact with the nature in some kind of potentially fatal way.

Frenzied suicidal outdoor interactivity is big in the Sun Valley area. Everybody you see is wearing a helmet and those really tight shorts that outdoorsy people wear to ensure that their personal characteristics are visible from Mars.

There is no outdoor activity too hazardous for these people: They climb sheer cliffs bare-handed; they ride bicycles down steep ski slopes; they leap off mountainsides and soar hundreds of feet in the air suspended from what appears to be a cafe awning. I suspect that sometimes, having run out of other dangerous things to do, they go out into the forest and run headfirst into boulders. You laugh, but this is probably a growing sport, with its own monthly magazine (Rock Butting).

So inevitably, when I'm in Idaho, my friends involve me in some insane outdoor activity. One time my friend Ridley talked me into climbing way up an absurdly dangerous tree, a tree that was surrounded by the corpses of squirrels that had fallen to their deaths while attempting to ascend it.

On my most recent trip, my friend Erasmo talked me into whitewater kayaking. Erasmo lives in Stanley, Idaho, (population: Erasmo) where he runs The River Company, an outfit that sends tourists, with guides, in rafts and kayaks down the Salmon River, which is very scenic and also the same temperature as liquid nitrogen. Erasmo insisted that I'd enjoy riding this river in a kayak, a small boat that gets its name from the Eskimo words ''kay,'' meaning ''boat,'' and ''ak,'' meaning ``that should not be occupied by anybody who is not a licensed Eskimo.''

Joining me on this adventure was my cousin-in-law Ron, who drove to Idaho from Minnesota in a large rental RV capable of traveling as far as 11 feet on a single gallon of gasoline. Ron brought his family and his small dog, Leo. ''Never travel without a small dog'' is an old frontier saying, and Leo showed why in the town of Arco, Idaho. They had stopped to (surprise!) get gas, and everybody got out except Leo, who remained inside the RV to perform the vital canine function of jumping up and down and yipping at everybody to come back. While doing this, Leo managed to press the button that locks all the doors, leaving Ron and family locked out without the keys. Good boy!

Anyway, when Ron and I got to the Salmon River, our guide, Lloyd, had us put on Spider-Man-style wet suits and life jackets and helmets. We were feeling manly and outdoorsy until Lloyd pointed out, quietly, that our helmets were on backward. After we turned them around, Lloyd gave us a briefing on how to kayak, which mostly consisted of what to do if you fall out of the kayak. What you do is: Don't panic. This is the same advice I've been given in every sport I've ever tried. Just once I wish the guide would say: ''If something goes wrong, flail your limbs and scream in terror.'' Then I'd feel qualified.

After our briefing, Ron and I got into our kayaks and pushed out into the river to practice our paddling skills. In a few minutes we found that by stroking our paddles on the left or right side, forward or backward, we were able to have absolutely no effect on what our kayaks were doing. Our kayaks were taking direction only from the Salmon River, which was telling them: Go Downstream Now! So we did. In a few minutes we hit our first rapids, which were officially classified as a Class 3 rapids (``Not Always Fatal'').

I made it through, using the veteran kayaker technique of closing my eyes, so that the river could not see me. I will not humiliate anybody by naming names here, but Ron fell out of his kayak. Fortunately Lloyd rescued him; otherwise Ron would have drifted all the way to the Pacific Ocean, getting repeatedly spawned on by aggressive male salmon.

After that the river got calmer and we did pretty well. In conclusion, kayaking is a fun sport that I recommend to everybody who has a sense of adventure and a good HMO. I plan to do it again. Maybe I'll see you out on the river some day! Assuming my eyes are open.


Sea Quotes:

 “Good seamanship is using superior judgment to prevent the need to use
superior skills."              Greg Welker

 "the more time you spend on the sea, the more chances you might be surprised by
something you can't handle; for that has always been the way of the sea."

  "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor: Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover."    -Mark Twain


“Stress dissolves when exposed to water”              The Kayak Center 1998



A man who is not afraid of sea will soon be drowned, he said,

For he will be going out on a day he shouldn’t.


But we do be afraid of the sea,

And we do only be drowned now and again.    John Millington Synge   “The Aran Islands”



Hey there, novice paddlers! 

Tired of being confused about what all the veteran paddlers are talking about?  I have been only paddling for about two years but I think I have gleaned what most of the specialized terms mean.  At the CV pool sessions this winter, drop a few of these terms and you can pretend you are a real paddler.

Boat – If you don’t know, stay off the water in one. And, by the way, how did you get this newsletter?

Cane Seat – Canoe seat designed to make little criss-crossed lines on your butt.

Canoe – Open-topped kayak for one armed paddlers or paddlers with one short arm.

Canoe, Whitewater – Open-topped kayak for one armed paddlers who like to swim.

Canoe, Aluminum – No such thing exists, just rounded off Johnboats.

Canoodle – An open-topped kayak with a really thin hull.

Codorus – Patrick F. McManus once said that any cow with a reasonably good aim can change a creek into a crick.  The Codorus is a crick but needs no bovine assistance.

Conodoguinet – Local creek.  Origin: American Indian for “Doesn’t this white guy know that it is called “The Creek”.

Conodo-Gucci – Conodoguinet as it runs through Hampden Twp. and Camp Hill.

Dry Top – Made of the latest miracle fabric, it will stay dry but you won’t.

Flipped – The natural orientation of a kayak.

Float, Paddle – Used by those who fail to remember the natural orientation of kayaks.

Full XTR – Oops.  Wrong vocab list.  This one was for the bike club article.

Hull – Unknown.  As in “Hull if I know.”

Kayak – Closed-topped canoe for those without canoe paddling skills.

Kayak, Rotomolded – Expensive, closed-topped canoe. 

Kayak, Fiberglas – See Kayak, Rotomolded but you need a mortgage to buy one.

Kayak, Kevlar –See Kayak, Fiberglas but bought by single or about-to-be single kayakers once the divorce settlement is finalized and the wealthy aunt dies.

Kayak, Rec – There are many obvious jokes about “Wreck Kayaks”.  Pick one. Try to be original. We’ve heard all the old ones.

Kayak, Sea – Any kayak that turns around in a distance greater than the width of the stream.

Kayak, Whitewater – Any kayak that can’t go straight for a distance longer than its own length.

Kayak, Wooden – Looks like a beautiful kayak but is never put into water.

Keel – To fall over at the price of the typical boat.

Keeled – To be murdered.  As in “Juan was keeled by Maria when she saw the price of his new boat.”

Neoprene – The latest advancement in stinky clothes since Paleoprene.

Paddling Shop – A place to be ignored in spring and fawned over in January.

PA Non-powered Boat Sticker – Another funding source for your local legislator’s pay raise.

Paddle (n) – A stick.

Paddle (v) – Sticking that stick in the water and flailing it.

Paddler – My dad, when I did set off a cherry bomb under his Lazy-Boy. 

Paddle, Carbon Fiber (n) – Expensive and fragile stick.

Paddling Trip – For me, a source of new material for writing stuff like this.

Puddle – Typical creek in July.

Piddle – Used to augment a puddle in July.

Poodle – A great boat sponge when dried and stuffed.

PFD – A really cool guy who wears a life vest.  Origin: Pretty Funky Dude.

PDF – An idiot who doesn’t wear a life vest. Origin: Pretty Dead Floater.

Powerboat – Hitler had one. Charles Manson had one.  Attila-the-Hun wanted one. AKA: “The Enemy’s Evil Boat” unless you get flipped, stuck, injured or exhausted in the dark as a storm approaches. Then it is known as “Your Best Friend’s Great Boat”.

Personal Water Craft – The Enemy’s evil, annoying, noisy, smelly boat that apparently never gets more than 50’ from other boaters.  Unless you…. Oh… never mind. 

Play Boat – A redundant term. Aren’t they all?

Nose Plugs – Converted to Greek letters, it is written as “Nose Plugs ." There is no paddling significance to this but aren’t computers cool?

NRS Catalog – The cause of the question “How much longer are you going to be in the bathroom?”

Rack – What I am doing right now with my brain to come up with something clever.

Rescue Knife – What you do in the lake after dropping your $50 knife.

Roll (v) – An apparent impossibility made possible by sheer terror. See Wet Exit.

Roll (n) – What kayakers develop after abandoning cycling and other cardiovascular exercise for paddling.  Helps seal the cockpit. (Did you notice that there is no definition for “cockpit” in this glossary?  I wouldn’t tough that term with a ten foot paddle.)

Roll, Combat – A really stupid idea.  If someone is shooting at me, I’m staying underwater until he leaves.

Roll, Failed – The normal kind of roll.

Roll, Successful – Got lucky, didn’t you?

Shuttle – A modern dance whereby one tries to get the others to drive to both the put-in and the take-out by whirling, dodging and well faked sincerity.  I usually show up with my boat strapped to a backfiring ‘84 Yugo with ripped seats covered with damp and aromatic hairballs donated by Fluffy. I haven’t had to drive all summer.

Skiing – Paddling a pair of really skinny boats in fluffy water. Usually done in the season when wet water gets too stiff.

Spray Skirt – A very tight skirt.  As in “Her skirt looked like it was sprayed on.” Susquehanna – The big, wet thing between Lemoyne and Harrisburg that sometimes invades Lemoyne and Harrisburg and leads to cute photos in the newspaper of people paddling on Front Street.

Throw Bag – Tossed to hapless paddlers.  Often contains a helpful rope.  May accidentally contain a less helpful but nutritious baloney sandwich.

Thwart – To prevent a paddler from paddling yet again instead of visiting the in-laws. 

Trip Leader – Selfless heroes and/or warped sadists who either help you avoid the nasty stuff or stuff you into the nasties. 

Wet Exit – Used when the impossible is impossible.

Yellow Breeches – Rumored to be a nice place to learn to paddle. It is definitely a nice place to learn to wet exit following a flip since the water is so clear that you can see the rocks coming for your head.

Tim Garland, a part-time roller can be reached at: tgarland@pa.net if you care to appear in slightly disguised form in a future article.  Inept, inefficient, clumsy and careless paddlers are especially encouraged to make contact as he needs new material. Extra consideration will be given if you like to drive.






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