- 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.
It’s difficult to imagine a more outrageous example of idiotic government overreaction than this week’s incident involving a mute swan on Five Mile Pond in Danielson, which would almost be laughable if the outcome weren’t so...
With a blustery breeze making the 8-degree temperature feel as if were a few notches below zero, our group didn’t intend to dawdle while scrambling back to civilization. The mountain hut where we spent the night had been so frigid my boots...
After having swum the 1.2-mile leg of Hawaii’s Rohto Half-Ironman triathlon Dirk Vlieks of Mystic was 22 miles into the 56-mile bike section, already thinking ahead to the 13.1-mile run to the finish line, when he began to feel...
You’d think that those of us who heat with wood can relax this time of year when we no longer must make 10 trips a day to the woodshed, stumble out of bed at 3 a.m. to stoke the stove, continuously shovel ashes and forage the forest for...
For viewing shore birds, marine mammals and a veritable Noah’s ark of critters that live near the water, nothing beats a kayak. Over the years I’ve paddled among seals, loons, beavers, sharks, sea turtles, otters, muskrats, snakes,...
Skunk cabbage and crocuses poking through the snow; almost two extra hours of daylight, a robin’s chirp; the arrival of pitchers and catchers at baseball training camps – unmistakable signs of the approaching season abound, but as far...
Just as Dylan famously sang so long ago, "You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," I don’t need a thermometer to know the temperature – or at least what to wear when I venture outside for...