You finally have a three-day weekend and it’s time to head out to test that new touring kayak! You rush home from work on Friday night, toss all your gear in the car, and off you go. After a few hours drive, you find a motel near the put-in and set your alarm for early the next morning. The next day at the put-in there is an explosion of gear: pots, pans, stove, miscellaneous food items bought en-route, tent, and all the other “toys” that need to go along for the weekend cover the ground. After filling your boat for about thirty minutes you realize there is no way all this stuff is going to fit! What should you take? What should you leave?
It’s three hours later but you’ve finally got all your necessities loaded and you’re off and paddling. You stop to take a quick break for lunch, but at that point you realize that all your lunch items are packed in your stern hatch, snugly behind your clothes, tent, sleeping bag, and cookware. Maybe some pre-trip planning would have been a good idea…
I see this all the time at the put-in on our Everglades and Suwannee River trips, and I also have to admit to being guilty of it myself. We all want to get on the water as much as possible, so when an opportunity arises we tend to toss everything (including the kitchen sink) in the car and head to the water. The thought is that you can then sort the gear out at the put-in. But once you’re at the put-in it looks like a gear bomb went off: your gear is covering the launch and other users are walking over and around your stuff. It’s an ugly scene: you’re not having fun and others are getting annoyed!
If you’ve planned this way, the next time you get a chance to take off for a long weekend you’ll be able to grab your two or three stuff sacks and head to the water. Pack your food in advance into the smallest packages you can, with just the needed serving sizes. This will save room in your boat and make for less trash that you will have to carry back out. When you get to the put-in you can lay your stuff sacks out next to their respective hatches, pack your hatches the same way you did at home, and get on the water! The packing process will be stress-free and quick. More importantly, you’ll have more time on the water doing what you enjoy most… paddling!