By Richard Luo
This past weekend, a few members and I participated on our very first Natural Highways boating trip at Black Hill Regional Park. While we did have a few hiccups, it was a great learning experience and something we'll definitely continue doing in the future. In this quick read, I’ll outline some perks we found, and things you should look out for in order to receive the best boating experience.
First, of course, you have to rent the boat. And if you look closely enough, there’s a decently sized construct with the words “Rentals” and “Returns” on it, as well as probably a line of people. When renting a boat, you have a few options: Kayaks, Canoes, Paddle boards, Rowboats, and Pedal Boats. Here are some things you should consider when choosing a boat:
Pedal Boats are $12 / half hour while the other four types of boats are $14 / hour. Additionally, you also have the option to rent everything for an entire day at the price of $50, excluding Pedal Boats and Paddle Boards. However, if money is a major concern to you, and you’re boating with friends, you can easily split the money. During our recent trip, we chose to rent a canoe for 3 hours, totaling to $42, but after splitting 3 ways, it was just $14 per person.
2) Number of People
Each type of boat can accommodate a different number of people. So if you’re flying solo, Kayaks and Paddle Boards may be great options. On the other hand, for people traveling in groups, Pedal Boats and (tandem) Kayaks can hold 2, Canoes can hold 3, and Rowboats can hold 4 adults. Last week, we decided on a Canoe as it fit the 3 of us perfectly.
3)Level of Experience
All types of boating options are usually very intuitive and easy to pick up, according to the website that is. However, as our group learned last week over the course of 3 hours, a bit more experienced would have helped a lot.
Over the course of our 5 mile exhibition, we faced a barrage of challenges. For instance, we couldn't get the canoe to go in a straight line. For our group of 3 with single sided oars, a select side would always be skewed due to a 2 on 1 majority. As a result, as showcased by our Strava post, the path we took could be best described using a combination of 180s, partial parabolas, 360s, zig zags, as well as a few infinity symbols. Next, the canoe was more wobbly than anticipated. There were a few dozen instances when we believed the boat was going to flip. It also didn’t help with the fact that we tried standing up on the already shaky boat to test our impeccable balance. Luckily, we had life jackets. On top of that, there were quite a few things we needed to figure out including the most efficient and quickest turning method without losing momentum, maintaining a constant, rhythmic pace without burning out (trust me, we were sore), and debating the legality of leaving the boat unattended while seeking refuge under a sketchy bridge. So my takeaway from all this is, the website was lying, it's fake news. Ultimately, the accumulation of all these nuisances lead to us returning to the dock, returning the single sided oars, and requesting double oars instead, which worked out a lot better. While this process took over an hour, the important thing is that we made it.
After reading my anecdote, you may have the impression that the trip was a disaster. But we actually had fun doing it, socializing in the middle of a river, trying boating for the first time in a while for all of us, enjoying the scenery, and best of all - getting overpriced, artificially flavored ice at the end. Luckily for you, now that you know all the things to look out for, you can avoid these obstacles at your next destination.