- 2016 Elections
- 2016 Lunch Debates
- Special Reports
- Maps & Data
- Dear Abby
- Games & Puzzles
- Events & Exhibits
- Food & Drink
- Arts & Music
- Movies & TV
While launching my kayak on Maine’s Rangeley Lake the other day I took a short detour to avoid a particularly annoying personal watercraft rider who had been buzzing around in circles, seemingly oblivious to loons, humans and other nearby life forms.
Soon enough, though, after emerging from Smith Cove near Bonney Point, I steered toward one of my favorite destinations a couple miles across the lake, South Bog Stream, and the roar of the PWC (popularly known by the brand name Jet Ski) faded in the distance.
En route I waved to half a dozen other paddlers but encountered no other PWCs, and it dawned on me: At long last, kayaks rule!
Back when I first started paddling, kayaks were so uncommon that people often would ask, “What kind of boat is that? Some kind of canoe?”
Now I’m happy to say that they are the most popular vessels on the water, according to statista.com, a statistics portal that compiles data from some 18,000 sources.
The website reports that of the 88 million adults who participated in recreational boating in the United States last year, the average person spent 11.2 days canoeing and kayaking, compared to 10.7 days riding a PWC.
The average spent on a sailboat in 2013 also was 10.7 days, followed by deck boat, 10.3 days; bass boat, 10.2 days; Sport fishing yacht, 9.3 days; cruiser, 9.1 days; wakeboard/ski boat, 8.5 days; bowrider/runabout/jet boat, 8.1 days; multispecies/ other fishing boat, 7.9 days; pontoon boat, 7.3 days; high-performance boat, 5.8 days; and center console boat, 5.5 days.
I know what you’re thinking, and the same thought occurred to me, too: When added together, all the power boats far outnumber the human- or wind-powered vessels, but hey, I’ll still take the most-popular listing for canoes and kayaks as an encouraging sign.
There’s one other wrinkle, though, that might skew separate statistics about kayak and PWC sales. Most of my paddling friends have several kayaks, whereas I suspect most PWC aficionados own only one or two.
Though I consider myself fairly non-materialistic, I confess to making an exception when it comes to kayaks. After all, you need at least one for paddling in the ocean, another one or two for whitewater, a couple for racing, a tandem, a sit-on boat, one for surfing, one for touring, a few spare boats for when friends stop by … in short, I regard them the same way Imelda Marcos felt about shoes – you can’t have too many.
I’m also reminded about what H.L. Mencken once said about statistics: You should rely on them the way a drunk relies on a lamppost – more for support than illumination.
With that in mind, here are some other interesting numbers supplied by statista.com:
I’ll take those numbers any day – especially when paddling out to South Bog Stream, a magnificent, hidden tributary loaded with trout, salmon, great blue heron, bald eagles.
Once you disappear among the reeds and marshes you’re in a world that seems to have bypassed the 20th and 21st centuries, where not even the whine of a distant PWC can penetrate.
"Every now and again people do something so monumentally destructive, dimwitted and dishonorable it belongs in a class of disgracefulness normally reserved for trophy hunters ... It’s almost as if they wake up one morning and say to...
Citronella candles, bug zappers, insecticides – people go to elaborate and often poisonous lengths to combat mosquitoes, deer flies and other nettlesome insects as we move into the steamy weeks of late summer, but I’ve been letting...
All of us who have ventured atop mountains, out to sea, or simply into a nearby park have occasionally faced Mother Nature’s wrath – a sudden thunderstorm, pounding blizzard, gale-force winds, locusts …
Some years ago, preparing to hike the Hundred Mile Wilderness – the final stretch of the fabled Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, I stuffed my backpack with what I initially considered to be the absolute bare minimum for a week in...
When I was a kid, the Fourth of July was one of the year’s high holy days, right up there with Halloween and the last day of school, because that was when my parents took my sister and me to the beach for the annual fireworks...
Many people I know share my passion for outdoor recreation but I also have a little secret: Between rounds of kayaking, hiking, gardening, wood-splitting and other activities I also savor the simple act of lounging quietly on a sunny day in a...
A refreshing breeze cooled me despite a blazing late-afternoon sun as I scrambled up the final rocky slope to the 4,121-foot summit of Maine’s Saddleback Mountain earlier this week, but I paused for only a moment to gaze at the glorious,...