Saturday, September 12, 2009

In Which My Suspicions Are Confirmed

One of the projects I've been working on off and on is to rebuild my kayak cart- just a little two-wheeled affair that I wheel the kayak around on instead of carrying it. It weighs about forty pounds, which is quite enough to be awkward for any distance. Plus, I can't carry the kayak, the removable seat, paddle and life jacket all at the same time without the cart. The original cart was damaged, and while repair might have been possible, I decided I wanted to redesign it to improve the stability.

Which makes it all the more ironic that on Monday, I decided to take the half-finished cart for a test drive. I had meant to put more cross bracing on it, but hadn't had time. But. The weather was just gorgeous, I had several hours free before hordes of company descended and it was the last chance I'd have to get out for the week. And the river's only a few blocks away. So I loaded the kayak up onto the cart and trundled it cautiously out into the street.

At first it wasn't so bad. There was swaying, which I expected, and I concluded with a certain amount of satisfaction that I was right about the need for cross bracing. When I got to the end of the street, leading to the dirt path that crosses the railroad tracks en route to the river, things started to get more...interesting. The swaying was worse on the ruts, and then I discovered a problem in the redesign- the center of gravity is higher than the old cart. I'd only replaced one stability problem with another. I shifted back so instead of towing the kayak behind me, I was walking beside it, making sure it didn't fall over, though this made it more difficult to balance.

At the railroad tracks, the problems were worse. I got the kayak-and-cart assembly over the tracks with the application of brute force punctuated with occasional heartfelt curses. When I hit the last rutted slope leading to the river's edge, I called it quits, unloaded the kayak from the cart, and carried it down to the water.

I'm happy to say it was totally worth it.
Merrimack river
The sun shone, the air was cool with just a hint of September in it, and there was enough of a gentle breeze to make the exertion of paddling pleasantly warming. I had the river to myself- I only saw one other boat out the whole time- and once away from the bridge there were no traffic noises- just sound of the water against the boat, the rustle of leaves and birdsong.

On the way back I carried the kayak to the edge of the pavement taking two trips, then loaded it up and wheeled it the rest of the way home. I'm not sorry I tried the cart out- taking it apart to lower the center of gravity will be easier to do before putting in the cross-bracing. And I wouldn't have wanted to skip going out. But I need to finish fixing that cart soon- now that I've finally gotten back out on the water, I'm eager to go out again before the weather gets too cold.
Merrimack river

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