since the big boat is still not in the water (don't ask), this year's unending  heatwave finally had me do the thing i should have done years ago -- bought a small boat for playing.
when i lived in new jersey, i bought a 12 ft old town canoe by the nonsensical name of "pack" (they still build them!)-- which was wonderful. it was made from ABS, weighed only 33 lbs, i always carried it on top of my car, and whenever i had an hour or so, i tossed it in whatever water was handy -- it was great on the small, winding rivers in the pine barrens, and it was fun along the shore waves in spring lake, but it could handle the delaware river as well. i treated it like a whitewater/flatwater hybrid, kneeled in it for a lower centre of gravity, and carried flotation bags when the dog wasn't with me. i loved that canoe. i sold it years later during a serious money shortage and worse depression to a guy in bend, oregon who was raising alpacas, and who liked me (but i was oblivious at the time); i hope he had fun with it.
at first i was thinking i'd get another small canoe, surprisingly, this is not canoe country; finding nice canoes is actually difficult -- i don't understand why. also, my knees are not in the best of shape, and so i changed my mind to consider kayaks. we went and rented a couple down in ladysmith; seward chinooks, 17 ft long fibreglass touring boats.
lovely boats, but not really what i was looking for. for one, they're expensive. for another, primarily i want to go back to puttering on small water, not take multi-day trips. if i ever want that (i might, some time), i can rent a touring kayak for a song. lots of people seem to just think ocean here, but we have quiet bays along the shore, lots of lakes and the nanaimo river with its amazing estuary. and even with a recreational kayak, we can reach several islands close to the coast, and take the kayak along on the ferry to others.
so this is what i settled on: 10'11" necky manitou sport. with a moderate amount of rocker, but also an extended keel so it can actually manage to track a little. ideally i wanted something a little longer, but couldn't find anything available locally that fit me as well all around. it behaves very differently from my canoe; it's rather more squirrelly down- and cross-wind, but it tracks like a charm into a headwind. it's much more maneuverable, and even though it was new to me, it felt like it would soon sort of become part of my lower body. i like that. it's much easier to paddle (i did use a kayak paddle for solo canoeing; i am no purist -- but a canoe presents much more windage than a kayak).
we dropped it in westwood lake an hour before dusk, and the paramour gave it a try as well, and was -- happily -- not terrified but found it relaxing, if a bit willful when pursuing a straight line course. if we buy him one too, it'll probably be a different model, a couple of feet longer, i think, and maybe with a rudder. i am not missing the rudder, i just need to learn to paddle better.
the hardest part is getting out of the boat. i felt like a beached whale because i have no upper arm strength anymore, and can't push my fat ass back up out of the seat. so i kinda rolled myself out. *sigh*. maybe i can work up enough strength through paddling for the exit conditions to improve.
it'll be fun.
 wouldn't you know it, on the day i pick up my kayak it is suddenly cool, overcast, and rainy, for the first time in 6 weeks. yeah, i launched the boat anyway. i am NOT complaining about the change in weather, but the forecast says it's gonna get hot again. this year is more hideous than last, and it makes me want to move further north. haida gwaii looks good.