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One of the greatest Privileges my family has as part of Jackson kayaks promotional staff is putting people on the water for their first time. Some may have been before but have never been shown how to paddle correctly or frankly were put in a kayak that just wasn’t up to the task. Outfitting them with excellent gear like Kokatat PFD’s and Bending Branches paddles allows us to show them what it is like to have the right stuff for a pleasant day on the water. The only thing we need to figure out is which of our fleet of kayaks to set them up with. We have 3 choices that we will put a new paddler in: the Ibis, the Cruise or the Tripper 12. Let’s look at how we prepare to take a rookie paddler on a trip.

Fear factor: is the new paddler worried about the water? Some swear if they can’t see the bottom they will freak out. These folks need to have trust in us and in our equipment to get them out and back safely. This type of person is tailor made for the Jackson Ibis. The Ibis has incredible stability and sitting down inside it just creates a sense of security that will often be the difference between getting a person on the water or not. If they are only mildly nervous about the water, the Tripper 12 is a great boat to start them out on. It has wonderful stability but also a little more “breathing room.” They can experience an open cockpit but not feel fully exposed to the water. Adding the soft deck can change the personality of the Tripper and we like to let the paddler have that option. If there is no fear of the water at all we will usually put them right into the Cruise12 but start them off in the low position with the Elite seat. The Cruise is also a great option for folks that may want to get out and play in the water during the trip.

Physical strength: will the paddler be able to keep up with the group? We have paddled with individuals that had physical or mental limitations and we have paddled with small children and seniors that had limited physical strength. If we have any question about that we will choose the Jackson Ibis for them. The Ibis has to be the easiest paddling vessel in our fleet. It is also the fastest boat so a new paddler will not have to worry about falling behind the group or working themselves to death to keep up. Even with a larger kayaker like me, just putting the paddle blade in the water will make the Ibis move forward. It is an outstanding choice for anyone with limited physical strength. The Tripper12 and Cruise 12 are very similar in their paddling styles. In my opinion the edge goes to the Tripper for speed while the Cruise is a tad easier to maneuver. Either one would do the job well, but it is hard to beat the Ibis for sheer ease of use with this type of paddler.

I am blessed with a great crew, my bride Angie and my son Ethan. She is a wonderful teacher and calming influence over anyone we put on the water, especially ladies or children. People know the things I have put my boats through and that can put them on edge but they trust that she won’t let me put them in any danger. Not only is she one of my favorite paddling partners, she is an integral part of starting a new flock of kayakers. Ethan is quick to help and great for assisting with teenagers who don’t want to listen to the “old dude” giving instructions. He is also a strong back and arms for loading and unloading the fleet. By being attentive to the needs of the new kayaker as well as their safety we have been able to put a lot of folks on the water and show them just how awesome it is to pilot their own craft. The smiles are a great indicator but the true tell is when they can’t wait to go again. More often than not we all end up back at the landing while the new addicts move from kayak to kayak trying each one out to see which they like best. My crew loves sharing our passion for the water and with the Ibis, Cruise and Tripper12 we have the right tools for the job.