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Leopard Shark vs Kayaking Veterinarian

Battle Royale!

My back hurts. Partially because I broke it in college. Partially because I refuse to get in better shape. Partially because I spend all day lifting kayaks. But mostly I think my back hurts because my wife is always on it about wanting to go do something fun. Mind you, it’s not like we spend our days off sitting in front of the TV wondering what stellar advice Dr. Phil has that we can’t live without. Quite the contrary. In the past month for example, we’ve spent two weekends skiing Tahoe, one weekend SUPing San Francisco Bay, one weekend SUPing Bodega Bay and one weekend hiking the coast. Needless to say, I have to be careful not to mention anything even remotely interesting or she’ll ride me like a two dollar mule until we go do it.

“I heard the leopard sharks are breeding in Drake’s Estero”, I let slip two thirds into a particularly potent cocktail. That’s how my Sundays get filled. A casual utterance of the tongue is considerably more binding than any UN resolution in our house. Fortunately, I’d been wanting to try Native Watercraft’s new recreational touring kayak, the Inuit, and this would give me the chance to kill two sea birds with one big heavy stone: Test a boat & satisfy a wife.

As I carried the boats down to the water I noticed something about them right off – they’re not light. Native uses the same plastic for their sea kayaks as they use for their Liquid Logic whitewater boats. The down side is, it’s heavier. The upside is, it’s more rigid. This makes for a boat that’s faster on the water and less likely to oilcan on the car. Advantages for sure. Once we were on the water, I quickly forgot about those few paltry pounds because the Inuit’s 5 Star Seating is as comfortable as anything made from genuine Corinthian leather. I would, in fact, say that the Inuit is the single most comfortable kayak I have ever sat in. Of course, I’ve only been kayaking regularly since 1992, so my experience is limited, but I would go on to say that the Native Watercraft Inuit seat has “all day comfort”. A happy back can have no price tag.

Pushing off from the beach I quickly began seeing leopard sharks in the shallows under my butt. And these weren’t those little twelve inchers you see at the aquarium in your dentist’s waiting room. These guys were five and six feet long with teeth like machetes and laser beams shooting from their heads. Maybe they didn’t really have laser beams. And I guess I didn’t really see any teeth. Technically speaking, a leopard shark looks slightly less frightening than a catfish. But they were still big. And there were lots of them. Not so many however that Nicole saw any for the first two hours we were on the water.

“There’s one”, I would say to my lovely wife as I pointed directly in front of her kayak. “Where?”, she’d respond, looking everywhere but where I was pointing. “There’s another one. And another. My god woman, they’re everywhere!” Nicole would whip her head back and forth like she was auditioning for the local production of Flashdance but to no avail. After a while I began to point and gasp even when there was nothing to see. Her mounting frustration at nature’s elusive ways brought me to a barely contained case of the giggles. She of course would have the last laugh, and thus announced in a tone of authority that General Patton could never muster, that there would be more leopard sharks at the other end of the bay. And so we began to paddle. And paddle. And paddle.

Fortunately for me the hull of the Inuit is nice and fast and so I didn’t have to work too hard as my wife drug me all over the back side of the Point Reyes National Seashore. And this is a bit of an oxymoron – the Inuit is both fast and stable. Two words I don’t normally put together when describing kayaks. But more than anything else, I would describe the Inuit as comfortable. And that was a good thing, because there were no sharks at the end of the bay. Nor in the sloughs. Nor in the center. There were however, plenty back where we started from. And this time Nicole saw them all. This made her very happy. And of course if my wife’s happy, well then, I’m definitely happy.

FYI: Drake’s Estero is closed to boaters from March 1st – June 30 every year for the annual harbor seal pup-o-thon. The Leopard Shark Lovefest takes place in October/November.

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