It's been several years since a bunch of friends and I got together to float and kayak down the broad river. The first time, I was in grad school. Hubs (still dating at the time), and my two best friends decided it was time to rent kayaks, paddle down the river and have a great time. We were SO under-equipped, got raging sunburns, and due to the drought, had to drag our boats a few feet every hour since the river was so low.
After Hubs and I were married, we wanted to go again, this time bringing along our other married, engaged and dating friends (no one had babies at the time!). We learned how to navigate ourselves down the river, but this time, forgot extra water, and snacks. There was no reapplication of sunscreen (the stupidest thing ever did). We brought canned drinks, but by the time we arrived back into town and to the hallowed hibachi restaurant, we were so sun poisoned and starved that we were sick as dogs. And then we made the hour's drive home. Needless to say, we learned some hard lessons that day!
Prior to this weekend, it had been over 3 years since we last went kayaking. Weddings, babies, and life had gotten in the way! I guess you could say that it took that long to plan for the next trip... We left all the babies with their respective grandparents and loaded up for the Broad River. Poor Red was nearly passed out before we got to Pop's house!
Hubs and I were delighted to be back in our college town - we visit our old bars and haunts, shopped for school gear, and had a few drinks for happy hour! (More of those awesome signs and drinks this week). We look so refreshed and ready to have a weekend in the sun!
So how did this weekend of kayaking differ from the others? We learned a lot and applied it all. No sunburn, no tummy aches, and despite our fair share of tipovers, we didn't lose a thing. I have some great tips for a day on the river. Follow these small pieces of advice, and you're sure to have a great time! (Thanks to Alex for the awesome pictures while we were on the river!)
1. Large water bottles full of ice. Fill to the tippy top with water and it will stay cool for most of the day. And drink up. Don't just bring it. DRINK it.
2. Food. Not just snacks, but PB&J sandwiches will keep your tummy happy. Granola bars or helpful, but packed in a ziplock bag, PB&J doesn't spoil easily. Pack one for every 3 hours on the river.
3. Reapply sunscreen every HOUR. Liberally and well. Spray sunscreens will apply on wet skin, and make sure to get the tops of your feet, ears and especially your hands. Weird, exposed stuff shows on the river - cover yourself!
4. Drybags! These inexpensive bags are one of the best purchases I've made. An 8L bag will hold a few bottles of sunscreen, snacks, a t-shirt and few other necessities. They fold and clip together, with D rings that you can attach to your boat. Super dry, and awesome to have. They pay for themselves in one or two trips.
5. Strap everything to your boat. Carabiners and bungee cords help to strap down your cooler, water bottles, drybags and lifejackets. Not all kayaks are created equal. Most of them are older and missing bungee cords. Be smart and bring your own - you can never have too many carabiners, either! It bears mentioning, if you stop by a sports store, grab a kayak repair kit. If you are using an older kayak, the last thing you want is a gash in the boat 2 hours before your take out. Ask your rental place if it's ok before you apply it.
6. Water shoes, croakies, hats all attached to you! Wear real water shoes that are not just flipflops, make sure your hat that you don't care for, and wall wicking fabrics (swim suits!)
What are your tips for keeping safe and having fun on the river?