Sunday, May 26, 2013

New toys

Marilyn dumped a bunch of money into the local economy while I was away.  One of her purchases is something I have wanted for a long time.  A very long time in fact. 

Shortly after we got married we were on our way to or from some meetings somewhere and had some time to kill in the Minneapolis airport.  Hobie Cat had a display of their – at the time – new kayak with a Mirage drive.  I was absolutely fascinated by them and instantly wanted one.  Not that I’m such an athlete that I will ever make any good use of a kayak but these things are just way cool. 

The Hobie Mirage drive looks like a pair of seal flippers on one end and a pair of bicycle pedals on the other end.  The assembly fits through a hole in the bottom of the kayak and then you can pedal your way around the bay.  I had no idea about how well they might work and in fact I had never even seen one since that day many years ago in Minneapolis.  I had however looked long and hard for a used kayak with the drive assembly but had never been able to find one for less than $1800 and never found any used ones in Canada.  I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that much for something that I expect will get limited use.  The new ones start at $3500 and go rapidly up from there so they were flat out of the question.

One of the last nights I was in Nebraska I got an email from Marilyn telling me that she had found a pair of Hobies on and that she was thinking of buying one of them.  I suggested that maybe she could negotiate a deal on the pair of them and that in fact is what she ended up doing.  She ended up paying $1800 for the pair of the kayaks, one of which turns out to be virtually new.  The other one has obviously been used but one of them had obviously not been in the water many times before we launched it this morning.


The great unknown for both of us was how effective the Mirage drive fins would actually be.  The folks that sold the kayaks to Marilyn said we would be surprised by how fast they were and it turns out they were right.  They are really zoomy.  Its astonishing how fast they move you for very little effort.  Peddling the drive is sort of like a recumbent bicycle – you kind of lie back and peddle.

There’s a swing up rudder that you control with a lever by your right hand and I found I could manoeuvre fairly well just using the rudder.  You can’t back up with the pedals but the rudder is effective enough that I only needed to back up a few times and I had the paddle for those moments.  All in all it was a very successful purchase.  I tried but didn’t succeed in coordinating paddling and pedaling but I can see how that would come with practice and once I get that nailed I’ll really be able to fly.

Marilyn’s other big purchase was a portable industrial sewing machine complete with a walking foot.  Its not nearly as exciting a toy as kayaks so we haven’t tried it out yet but it will earn its keep repairing the rotten stitching on our canvas and building a new cover to enclose our anchors. 

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