That time I decided to become a rower

a journal

7/20? (day 1)
I'm in a mood. I don't know if these moods are good or bad. Sometimes they lead to disaster, other times joy. This time the mood tells me I'd like to try rowing. You know, like in a boat on water. I bought a rowing machine (alias erg) during the nightmare hell of 2020, and my body seems to like it. I've got one of those NordicTrack machines with the big screen where I can pretend I am actually rowing in water, and it sure seems like it would be fun to try it in real life. So I find a local rowing club that gives lessons and buy myself a set of them for my upcoming 42nd birthday. BOOM.

Not sure why we were told to wear clothes suitable to rowing, as we don't get in the water. We learn the basic movement of rowing, how to lift/hold/move the boats, how to rig, how to get in and out.

On the water for the first time! Well, the water in the Salt Lake marina, at least. The marina is absolutely covered in flies (no, really - the docks look a certain color and then as you walk onto the dock the color flies away because it's nothing but flies, ew) and it's extremely gross and the water looks gross and I very much do not want to fall in. With a rope attached to the stern of our boats, we practice rigging from the dock, getting in, and then rowing back and forth from the dock to get a feel for the boat's stability, and how to work the oars together.

On the water again! We venture out into the Great Salt Lake. Getting in and out of the marina takes up a chunk of the lesson, since we're still learning how to steer. Flies cover my legs, my face, my arms, some get swallowed. But I don't care because it is AMAZING being on the water in that little tiny boat!! It feels so good to propel myself across the water, the rowing movement feels so natural, I forget everything - even the constant pain in my body - and just like that the sun is setting and it's time to go home.

Club row

8/21 (day ??)
I journey to a southern suburb of SLC to see a man about a boat. To see Ed about the Echo shell he's picking up to take back west, actually. I'm surprised it was shipped uncovered. It's blue, not the cutest thing, definitely not as cute as in the photos for some reason. An older model, perhaps? It's slick though, and I still like it. I nervously tilt the gunwales to see how heavy 55 pounds might feel spread out over 18 feet, and it doesn't feel too bad, until I pull it completely off the rack and the bow bangs to the rocky ground. I think, yikes, would I really want to manuever this around all the time? Only later do I remember I needed to find the balance of the boat before lifting it. Can I lift it? Yes. Do I want to add even more stress on my body? Not really. I start thinking of kayak dollies on the drive home.

I find a super cute Echo Sport for sale in California. It's what I'm looking for, accessories included are great, drive isn't that long, price is right. Gets sold to someone shortly after I inquire. Sad.

I head to Wyoming tomorrow to check out a boat! I've been emailing back and forth with its owner for a good week or more, and this weekend dear husband is up in Huntsville camping and the kids are in their own lives and the weather is glorious and that means it's time for a SOLO ROAD TRIP. Where I'm going isn't too far from my old stomping grounds in Pinedale, but no I won't be visiting there.

I'm quite excited to go on a 10-hour road trip! I'm super excited to check out the scull and see if it's suitable for me or not. I'm hoping the daughter won't show up to meet me so I can investigate it at my own very slow pace, not forgetting anything. I just know if someone is hanging around watching, I'll get flustered - you know what, no, fuck that, it's time to stop being hampered by that. Business is business and if I'm spending money I'm going to make sure it's what I need, take my time about it, be thorough. (It's wild how often I act as though I don't deserve to take up space.)

The boat comes with a trailer and dolly and oars and northern Wyoming is a much closer trip than Oregon or the east coast so I'm going for it. My goal tomorrow is to see how hard it is to handle the scull by myself. How difficult is it to move the boat from the trailer to the dolly and back? Is it going to make my arm hurt for hours, or days? If I am able to handle it and it's in decent shape I don't see why I wouldn't buy it. The trailer is a plus, I wouldn't have to deal with installing a roof rack on the car and I wouldn't have to worry about lifting the scull over my head, in case it's heavy. I'm assuming in the best case scenario I could back that trailer right down a ramp and launch the boat off it in the way we're all familiar with.

Anywho, that's all tomorrow. Tonight it's pasta, wine, and a book.

The Wyoming trip was awesome and the boat was awesome, too, but I conclude it's a bit too much boat for just me. It's almost three feet across in the middle which makes it difficult for me to maneuver - I'm hoping for something around 2' across.

I inquire about a scull for sale in San Diego. Naturally, there are others looking at it first. Sigh.

I email Adirondack about lead times on new Echos. Sold out til beginning of November, not deliverable from New York until December. I toy with the idea of driving to New York, having them sell me a trailer and then drive the boat home myself.

I email Vespoli about lead times and from them, new Echos are two weeks out but can't get delivered until early November. I'm getting lots of practice with managing my frustration, tell you what.

I check out a nearby lake and it convinces me the Wyoming boat might work. I reach out to inquire again. It's been sold in the meantime. Sob.

I email Adirondack Rowing about an Alden Quest on their site. It's been there since I first looked, but I thought it was too ugly then. It's still ugly, but it's $2k and I'm getting desperate. They email back to let me know someone else is looking at it right then, because of course they are.

I email Vespoli about buying the demo Echo I saw back in August. Also not the boat I want, but again with the desperation as I watch gorgeous fall days repeat themselves and I mourn that I can't be on the water during them. Vespoli says someone else is looking at the demo, because of course they are.

I journey to a 'custom roof rack installation' place to get the schpeel on what it would take to get my Volvo set up to carry a boat. Turns out the place isn't very custom at all and they aren't willing to help me. Now, a trailer seems like the only option, so I've got to reduce the budget for the boat, figure out how and where I'm going to store a trailer with a boat on it during the season (not allowed in our driveway in our HOA), and figure out the same during the offseason (our garage will need some modifications for it to fit in there, do I want to cover it and leave it in the backyard, etc). I'm so frustrated. Self-pity here but it's starting to feel like the universe is conspiring to NOT let me row. Objectively I know that's not true, and I'm of course not going to give up, but DAMN. D reminds me that I went through the same thing when I bought my car and the house - looking looking looking and everything is a closed door and then boom the exact thing I'm looking for appears. It's just that, I'm impatient and don't want 'my' boat to appear when it's December and I can't even row until March or April.

I'm waiting for an intersection light when a Jeep drives past with a fairly long kayak on top of his car. Just foam blocks supporting the hull and tie downs running around the car frame. Hmm. I can easily do that on my car, especially since I won't be driving very far or very fast to get to the lake.

I decide to buy the boat I want and have it delivered to me. Once it's here, I can more easily answer all my questions about storage and transport. On the one hand it feels like an obscene amount of money to spend on myself but on the other hand my last raise alone covers it, so why not? I've been desperate for years to find more things I can look forward to, and this seems to be one of them, so I'm going for it.

I get the boat out onto the water for the first time (and probably last, water is already at 50 degrees), and yes it was a challenge and a hassle to get to that point but once I was on the water, it was as amazing as I remembered. I was so happy, being out in the middle of this little lake surrounded by wetland birds and not another single person on the water.

November's last warm gasp and damn straight I'm out there on the water again, this time for a couple of hours. The boat is squirrelly and I freaking love it. My arms pay the price, though - they become pretty much unusable for about 6 weeks.