Saturday, July 6, 2013

Paddle Obsession...

So I saw the following pic from the presi's twitter feed (H/T Weasel Zippers):

Being a casual kayaker who is on the water pretty much every chance I get I was curious about the kayak he was in. It appears that he is in the ocean, a few hundred feet offshore, in a recreational kayak. This seems very wrong to me. Zooming in I see this:

Humm. Interesting. A Perception Sundance. Looking that up on Google, I find this description:
The Sundance 9.5 is the smallest and most nimble of our new Sundance family. The Sundance resembles a a touring kayak in design but features super-sized knee room and is ideal for lakes and ponds. A perfect boat for first time paddlers or anyone who's looking for a light and easy kayak that's stable and fun to paddle. The bow and stern deck rigging give you lots of options for storing gear and the standard Comfort Fit outfitting ensures you comfort while you are trying out this thing we call paddling.
Notice nothing there about ocean or anything like that. Now my first kayak was a Perception 9.5 - virtually identical to this one - though it appears to be the 12' version. It is exceedingly stable and takes a purposeful action to tip. That being said, I would never take it on the ocean. There are two reasons for this. First there is getting into the ocean. While the large cockpit makes it easy to get in & out, it also offers little barrier for water in surf conditions. This is compounded by the kayak only having a single sealed bulkheads. Unless you put a float bag in there, there is a pretty good chance that getting swamped by a wave will result in a rapidly filled kayak sitting on the bottom or close to it and you being stuck a long way from shore for a swim back, sans your $400 kayak (not that such a small amount matters to the $100,000,000,000,000 President).

The second reason I would hesitate to to take such a kayak in the water is the relative difficulty in paddling such a kayak. Yes it is maneuverable and stable, but with that comes a larger surface area in contact with the water. This means that to propel it through the water requires quality, efficient, and numerous strokes. This is fine for a 'lake or pond' where you are not fighting tide and current.  Where he is pictured a good outgoing tide could quickly move him a mile or more offshore without the strength or ability to get back. That is the real danger of using an inappropriate kayak for the conditions. I have a hard time imagining his security detail allowing him to be put in such a dangerous situation.

Given all this I began to take a look at the picture again. I am not an expert in photo analysis, but to me it looks like it might have been photo-shopped. Open up to above picture and zoom way in. There are error lines all around the paddling 'figure'. There are no error lines around the kayak. Draw your own conclusions. Oh, and just for fun, google 'Obama blue shirt picture' - there aren't any of this style of shirt. I suspect it was changed to match the background. Looks like another 'presidential plastic turkey incident' to me.

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