Cutter Aquatics paddling instructor, Barbara Cutter left for Greece just under a month ago for a sea kayaking adventure vacation. With her she brought a few new pieces of gear from Adventure Technology and Bomber Gear such as the Vanguard Spray Skirt and thought she’d share how it performed.
Tales of a Travelling Sea Kayaker
Traveling to Greece is no picnic. It’s a nine-plus hour flight from DFW to the chaos of London Heathrow, 4 more hours to Athens airport and then you’re met by blast-furnace heat outside of baggage claim. Cross your fingers that the A-C will be working on the X96 bus to the Port of Piraeus or sweat for an hour and a quarter. Now drag the suitcase, balance the paddle bag and sling the daypack aboard an odd-looking water taxi that the Greeks call the Flying Dolphin. In just one more hour you can disembark on Poros Island totally jet-lagged. But waking up the next morning to a sea kayaker’s paradise to totally worth the effort.
My first morning on Poros I’m invited to join a group of six Brits and Scots finishing a four-day BCU Three Star training. I am promised that we all speak the same language, but it is hard to tell at first. We laugh at all the accents and different terms we use. “Fit your buoyancy aid (lifejacket);” “Tuck up that spray deck (skirt),” they say.
Breaking Out the Vanguard Spray Skirt
They admire the Bomber Gear Vanguard spray skirt that I’ve brought along and I am thrilled with the wide “hook & loop” band on the neoprene tunnel. It is nice and wide with durable pull-tabs that adjust easily for a really comfortable, snug-as-you-like fit. Another feature I discover on this cool new skirt is a very handy slide release buckle on the grab loop. Our BCU coach, Brian, is a bit of a safety nut (a good thing) and makes sure that everyone tucks up the decks of their spray skirts into a strap or something on their lifejacket. When out of the kayak this keeps you from tripping over unseen rocks and such. The extra little strap and buckle on this skirt is perfectly suited to this safety practice and will also make it easy to hang the skirt to wash and dry later in the day.
Before leaving Texas I worked with Joseph at ACK to choose the correct spray skirt size for the large cockpits on our Rainbow Oasis boats in Greece. XL seems like a good choice. It snaps easily onto the stern cockpit of the big tandem boat I’m assigned with my buddy. We launch out into the blue, blue sea and follow the 3-star candidates to the Poros lighthouse.
By lunchtime we have reached a beautiful beach on the far side of the island and there are a few scrubby trees under which we can find some shade. While others dig into dry bags for lunch I grab one of the solo boats to try some rolls. The spray skirt fit so easily onto the cockpit combings I want to make sure it is snug enough to keep out water while upside down. Besides, the heck with shade trees, the water is absolutely the best relief from the heat.
Admittedly I am surprised but the cockpit stays dry. The roll trials were great. Now everyone wants to try and we spend the next hour working with lots of different folks to learn to roll. There is success all around. This beautiful clear water with the sandy bottom turns out to be a better teaching space than a Texas swimming pool and Greece is a perfect place for a picnic after all.