Thursday, March 03, 2011

Invisible Boat

I don't know about you, but when I'm heading out in my kayak, I feel pretty darned noticeable. Well, noticed, anyway. People notice me walking past them on the beach. It's pretty much simple self-preservation to notice someone with a kayak balanced on her shoulder, even when it's my little inflatable. If I turn without looking first (and who can look through the kayak to see someone standing on the blind side?) someone near me can end up walloped with one end of a kayak or a paddle.

Heck, people tend to notice me anyway, whether I'm barefoot on the beach in January or wearing a bright orange paddle jacket. Some busy days on the shore I'm stared at like some rare bird... look, dear, it's a blue-footed booby!

So I'm not used to thinking of myself as an invisible kayaker. Everything I've been told about larger boats running over kayaks that were simply not visible makes sense, but it's not part of my own experience. Even a story from local sailor Michael Koster about rescuing a kayaker from a rock near Flower Island didn't sink in. Since he was standing in a large Zodiac boat, Michael could see the kayaker who was invisible to someone sitting in a smaller Zodiac.

Then one day this January John and I went out for an hour's paddle on a chilly day. Everything went well, and I realized just how invisible a kayak can be. Here's what I was paddling that day, in a photo taken by Louise:
Pretty noticeable, eh? Certainly there's enough bright colours here to shame a puffin's beak!

And here's a picture taken by John, showing his bow and the shoreline along Cadboro Bay's eastern shore. What's remarkable in this photo is what doesn't show -- me and my kayak. I'm there, but you can't see me. Five minutes before it was taken, I set off from the Gyro Park beach at a slow pace, expecting John to catch up. By the time I reached that eastern shore, he couldn't see me. I was maybe 700 metres away, on a clear, sunny, calm day. Look how blue the water is and how bright the light is in these pictures! And that gaudy little kayak and paddler is completely invisible in this photograph.

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