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Rock the Boat


BETTER GEAR FOR BETTER PADDLING


BE A CARPENTER, NOT A TOOL


It’s a poor carpenter who blames his tools. Te tools themselves don’t actually do the work—they are no substitute for a skilled user. But the appropriate tool for a given task sure makes the job easier. And the finer the tool, the better and longer it will perform. Good carpenters always have the finest tools, don’t they? I should know—my wife is a carpenter. It’s also worth noting that carpenters own a wide range of different tools. Because if a


hammer is the only tool you have, every project invariably starts to look a lot like a nail. By the way, this is a great argument when you’re trying to convince your carpenter–wife


that you really need a surf ski to complement the two sea kayaks, canoe, two whitewater playboats, creek boat and fishing sit-on-top that you already own. Having the right tool for the job gets it done right, and makes the work easier and more pleasurable. So if the tools don’t do the work, does better gear make us better athletes? I’ve gone free-


Osagian


KAYAK New for 2012


heeling with top-notch telemark ski gear, and guess what? I still didn’t know how to ski. For me, it was more falling with a pack. I’ve borrowed a fancy dual-suspension mountain bike and still had to walk just about every line that the other riders were styling. I called it, “Hiking with steel.” Show me the sleekest Olympic sprint kayak and for me it will be a rigid swimsuit before I cross the start line. And yet the ski boots were super warm, comfortable and didn’t give me a single blister.


Te high-end bike helped me survive a few launches that I would never even try on my old bike. And that racing kayak gave me a tantalizing hint of its prize-winning potential. In each case I could confidently attest to the fact that the limiting factor in performance


was not the tool. It was me—the carpenter. And that’s actually a pretty inspiring feeling because, rather than being limited by my gear, I was free to build my skills and challenge myself as much as I dared. It’s hardly news that good tools always win out over shoddy ones. Te real trick is more


in figuring out what constitutes the better tool for your task. What’s most appropriate? Given just a little time with a piece of gear, we quickly figure out if it’s working for us or not. Just as a dull drill bit will fail to perform, so will crappy paddling equipment. So the next time someone hands you a sledge hammer and tells you to go saw planks,


look the poor carpenter straight in the eye and tell him he needs a bigger tool box. And while you’re on your way to the hardware store, swing by your local paddling shop and pick up the sweetest paddle that you can find—because tools matter. —Alex Matthews. Rock the Boat applies life’s most profound idiosyncrasies to sea kayaking


(or sea kayaking’s most profound idiosyncrasies to life), offering a fresh take on paddling life in every issue of Adventure Kayak. Read more by visiting www.adventurekayakmag.com/0016 or download the Adventure Kayak iPad app from the iTunes Store.


24 CURRENTS || Annual 2012


ILLUSTRATION: LORENZO DEL BIANCO


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