Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The joys of self-propelled propulsion!

The image above? Two ships. Well OK, one ship and one very skinny boat! It's a heck of a lot of horsepower and passengers (21,444 and 1,650 plus 370 vehicles to be exact) compared to a graphite, feathered, double-bladed paddle and a single cockpit.

The British Columbia Ferry, Coastal Inspiration, en route from Nanaimo to Vancouver passes ahead of us on the Salish Sea, just north and west of Gabriola Island. These large ferries cruise at better than 21 knots which, for those who may be more familiar with metric highway speeds, it's almost 40 kilometres per hour! So yeah, if they'd ever let you hook up to the stern, it would be a pretty sweet couple of hours of water-skiing from the Island to the mainland - although the highly turbulent and aerated ferry wake might be problematical! (Any specialists in hydrodynamics out there?) Kayaks and paddlers don't present much of an image, even on sophisticated radar screens, so when you see one of these ferries appearing in the distance, you plan to be well out of the way, really well out of the way - 'cause it's not long before they're on you. I love taking the ferry...but, it's not the same as the feeling you get when you are responsible for your own propulsion. And I'm talking about the old-fashioned, absolute, feel-good feeling called joy.

Paddling on the ocean or on a lake or a river gets you up close and personal with the natural world. So does running, hiking or walking along a forest trail. I think that's the beauty of these particular varieties of human-powered propulsion. You don't go very fast, so the world doesn't pass you by as a blur, as it does when you're riding in something with "horsepower". You are, for the most part, joyfully aware of your surroundings. It's the difference between being a spectator and actually playing in the game. On the water, you feel each wind-shaped wave while, at the same time, you rise and you fall on the residual swell produced by a weather event now long gone. You "hear" the swirling eddies in the wake of your paddle strokes. You sense the presence of marine mammals under your hull. You breathe in the sea air...moist, fresh, invigorating, oxygenated. In the forest, there is a superabundance of sensual treasures - the temperature differentials, the sounds of movement, the smell of the forest floor, the ferns, and the cedars. Even the occasional fragrance of death, a reminder of the cycle of life, is just another "neighbour" in the community of odoriferous experiences.

So yeah, we vote for the self-propelled experience anytime. For an "up close" experience of the natural world, it beats a fast car, a motorcycle, a powerful ferry, a 60-inch, widescreen, LCD TV...(almost) anytime!

Breathe deeply...take it all in.


PS Just ordered a pair of Barefoot Ted's Luna Sandals (minimalist Huarache running sandals). I'll share the experience when they arrive sometime after July 1. Looking forward to discovering what they're like to run in!


  1. Nice post as usual. I agree why go fast when life is already going by at that speed!

    "joyfully aware of your surroundings"

    Reminds me quite a bit of what I have been practicing as of late. Mindfulness meditation.
    Jon Kabat-Zinn has some great youtube videos on it.

  2. Thanks for that, Lee. You're so right, life goes by fast enough without us adding to the "velocity". Yes, I have Kabat-Zinn's "Wherever You Go, There You Are - it's a wonderful read which I have used in my work! Duncan.

  3. Hey D & J, self-propelled rocks! G.

  4. Lunar sandals! (for the loony??) I had to laugh. Nothing lo-tech about you guys. Love the pic, and your blog.

  5. Hey, come on Jill, this is SERIOUS low tech running stuff. They're "Luna" sandals, (you'll read about him in "Born to Run")not "Lunar". You probably had a vision of us "moonwalking" through the forest? Jeesh! :) D.