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by David Lucas - Bradenton, Florida - USA

You'd think this would be done more often but it's not, maybe never. If you mention getting a tow to a kayaker the answer is always something like, "we do this for the exercise or I like the calm and quiet" or any number of other reasons; all of which are valid and acceptable. I have to admit that this particular "train" was a little extreme but when I put the word out that we were going to set the world record for the longest kayak train pulled by a Briggs and Stratton lawn mower powered African Queen looking tow boat, there was no stopping the flood of truly warped kayakers who wanted to know what the hell I was talking about. You should have seen the looks I got when I said that no paddling would happen and tried to get them leave their paddles on shore and that once hooked up you could not be unhooked. That one got the most comment till we said think about it. Ever tried to untie a line from the front or back of a kayak while you're in it?

We've done this lots of times with fewer boats and it is really fun. Leave it to a bunch of old retired guys to find an easy way to kayak. You're still sitting in your little boat enjoying the sights and sounds of nature while slipping smoothly through the water. It's really relaxing and since you're not paddling you can look around, take pictures and actually see more of what's out there than if you were struggling to go against the wind with your muscles burning and you heart pounding and your lungs, well you know. The boat towing you has to go about the same speed as you would normally paddle so it's not noisy or making much of a wake. A train of about ten boats is ideal for this, even in narrow twisty rivers. The kayaks follow exactly in the wake of the tow boat. You'd think they would try to cut the corner or crack the whip but they don't. The first time we did this we expected disaster and had quick release knots to let go when death approached. After a few timid turns Howard, who was driving did some tight U turns and we all stayed in one wake. He made one turn around a crab pot buoy as tight as he could and no one hit it. This while pulling a string of 14 kayaks.

The reason you'd want to do this kind of thing is if you want to go out with a group consisting of some novice paddlers and want to go a long way to see the scenery. Let's say you're always telling your mother or aunt Margaret about how much fun kayaking is or your nerdy brother in law who won't leave the house or most any normal person. You'll never get them in a kayak, let alone have them paddle for four miles, probably against the wind and current. Hell, you can't get me to do that and I'm not even normal. Now imagine seating her in a nice stable piece of rubbish $300 plastic kayak, the kind you rent, something you wouldn't be caught dead in but one that will never turn over. Give her a big hat, cool drink and camera and tow her and her bridge group up a beautiful scenic little river; taking in the sights and sounds and smells of nature. It'll be one of the highlights of their lives. I've done this lots of times and it really is just like that, especially if the turn around point is a quant little water front restaurant. . However, DO NOT attempt to tow a string of kayaks that's so long you can't see the end. Leave that to the professional crazy boatnuts, like me and Steve and Stan.

You see from the pictures and video that this is a long, long line of boats. We had 28 boats tied bow to stern behind Chelsea that stretched out over a distance of 750 feet. They always talk about "football fields", that's two and a half football fields long. Think about the logistics of doing that. The wind was blowing onshore so we had to hold the boats off as we tied them together or they would've blown into the bushes. In these 28 boats there were 30 people (two were doubles) who were as interested in drinking beer and talking to each other as getting going. And we've already established that this bunch was not what you'd call your normal rational people. If they were they would've been home watching college football. We thought about having Steve anchor out with a long line but in the end I just tied the first two boats together, yelled "Man Your Boats" and starting walking out across the lagoon. It's only about four feet deep. As I pulled, the crew tied boats on and pushed people in. It didn't take long to get this herd of cats going because I didn't stop walking and the boats kept going out. At one point when I was about a hundred yards out and up to my arm pits in water and getting stuck in the muck I had a doubt about the wisdom of this plan. Way back in the distance I could see that more than half the boats were still on the beach and it was getting hard to pull. Luckily about then is when I started to come up on the sand bar and I knew I could make it. Stan tied my boat on somewhere in the back and he was going to be last until some more showed up and quickly tied on behind him. I think you can see in some of the pictures that I've tied on to Chelsea and way back in the distance boats are still coming off the beach. My job was over and I just had to stand on the sand bar till my boat came by, accepting beer from passing boats.

The reasons you shouldn't try to break the record are; you don't have a lawn mower powered African Queen type tow boat, my river is wide and protected and has very little boat traffic (only one boat came by and he slowed down so as not to tip anyone), we did have one person fall out of her boat because she didn't listen to me and brought her paddle. It caught in the water when she was reaching around for a beer and it tipped her. Ernie and Donna were there in the rescue boat to pull her out. There's always one isn't there? Everyone stayed for lunch at the tiki hut and had a wonderful bonding experience. The adrenalin was flowing and we all talked like we were long lost friends. I was especially grateful for all the hugs and kisses I got. Simon's wife Kristi made a video of the whole thing with music that'll get your juices flowing. Make sure to look at it on Youtube/below.

David Lucas

Lucas Boatworks and Happy Hour Club

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