But there was good news as well. When Marlene came to the lake to pick me up, we found that her SmartCar was big enough to hold the Expedition kayak. Hurray!
Some polite astonishment has been expressed, concerning the idea that the kayak in its bag would fit into the SmartCar fourtwo. Just astonishment, not disbelief. Those SmartCars are pretty small, after all.
Well, yeah, it is kinda hard to imagine shoehorning a 13-foot kayak into a fourtwo. As Louise suggested, photos are the only way to go. So here they are:
Thanks to Bernie's camera work, we have a series of images to show of Marlene's car being put to use. First of all, here's the cargo bay behind the two seats, empty and ready for gear. Notice particularly that the inside walls of the cargo area are black in the lower portion, and light grey in the upper portion. That will matter in later photos!
Next, here are two inflatable kayaks loaded in the back of the SmartCar, just as Marlene figured they would fit. The yellow bag is smaller than the grey one, and she said to put it on top because the back of the car gets a little narrower as you go from bottom to top. But once both bags were in, we realised that we could have put two Expeditions in, easily. These bags hold the kayaks, folded, the safety gear, air pumps, and personal flotation devices (PFDs). The one four-piece paddle I own is tucked inside the yellow bag as well. Try to ignore the broken zipper on the grey bag.
The next photo points out that not only the boats but all the necessary gear must fit, for a successful trip. If you look carefully, you can see my small luggage roller tucked between the kayak bags so it won't roll around. There is a two-piece paddle on top of the bags, and a blanket rolled up beside them. The bungee cord that's sitting by the paddle got tucked down at the floor level. Notice how high the gear is piled? It's not even shoulder-height on the driver. The driver can see right over all the gear!
This shot of the passenger seat shows my knapsack of gear (holding a change of clothes, lunch, a book, my knitting, and the laptop computer I'm currently writing on) that sat at my feet. It took up much less than half of the space for the passenger's feet, so I had plenty of room. There was also plenty of room in the front for Marlene's knapsack as well, and her jacket.
The final photo shows that when the back is closed on all that gear, there is still room to see out the back window. Not the entire window, but much of it. This photo was taken by Bernie standing, so from this angle it looks like the entire back is full. But from the driver's seat the driver is able to see right over the yellow kayak bag through most of the window. Visibility really helps a driver feel better on the road! Marlene was still able to use her rearview mirror.
The final tally of gear loaded into the SmartCar for this photo shoot:
1 13-foot Expedition kayak from AdvancedElements (the gold standard for inflatables, in my experience)
1 9'6" kayak from Advanced Elements (the Dragonfly, an older model of what's now the Lagoon)
1 two-piece paddle
1 four-piece paddle
2 PFDs with whistles, one with a compass, cold weather cap, and SPOT emergency device
2 water pumps
2 throw bags holding 50 feet of floating rope
2 air pumps (doublestroke pumps the size of my thigh, I might add)
1 folding luggage roller (and there was plenty of room for another)
1 SmartCar first aid kit
1 steel travel mug
1 bottle of water
I'll just add that there were two small purses in the knapsacks. Not sure what Marlene's purse held besides her wallet, key ring, phone, makeup and meds. Mine held all that plus an assortment of useful tools, eyeglasses, handkerchief, tissues, matches/lighter, candle, space blanket, granola bars, Purelle, pens and notepaper.
We were loaded for bear!
If this type of vehicle were regularly being used for this purpose, I would pack only one of the big air pumps plus a small one for a spare. I would also invest in two more paddles that take apart into three or four pieces, small enough to fit inside the kayak bags. The two-piece paddle was the only thing that took some wriggling to fit into the back of the car.