Recently TRAK had the pleasure of hosting a gathering on Vancouver Island to celebrate TRAK paddlers from around the world. We were fortunate to have many accomplished kayakers right here in our backyard! One of those paddlers is Ken Pool of Vancouver, BC. We got to talking, and he was kind enough to share the over 50 year history he has with skin on frame kayaks, and where his TRAK has taken him. The following article was written by Ken for us to share with our community:
Kayaking has been in my family for nearly a century. My father had a two-person kayak in England during the war, where he served as a (top secret) radar technician, so his use of the kayak was for recreational purposes... not naval battles.
Later in 1968 when I was 8, my kayaking journey began. My dad got the family three vinyl on wood frame kit kayaks from an outfit called Folbot (10', 15' and a 17' two-seater) which he built and christened Snap, Crackle and Pop. The family paddled them off West Vancouver, up Indian Arm, down the Fraser from Hope to Mission, on Lightning Lakes, Widgeon Creek, Bridge Lake and as far north as Moberly Lake.
Pleased with the boats dad decided to reverse engineer the 15 footer in 1972, making two more from scratch. Unfortunately, the maiden voyages of these home-built kayaks were marred by the fact the vinyl was very delicate and teared easily. Even after doubling the vinyl later, tearing was still a problem resulting in one situation where a hole formed in the outer layer and water filled between the layers somewhat like a balloon. After this experience, dad replaced the vinyl hull with one made of canvas and airplane dope. I still managed to sink with this new material, but after a bit of perseverance and more reinforcement, we finally got to the point where we managed to stay dry... except for the time my mom turned one of them into a sieve on the 'River of Golden Dreams' in Whistler. These experiences make me appreciate the toughness of the TRAK kayak's hull.
All of our kayaks were very stable (I never capsized... almost sank, but never capsized.) and we could paddle while sitting up on the back deck which even allowed for a passenger to sit in the 15 footer; I'm sure the 17 footer could carry a family of four. At one point, we had an electric trolling motor set up to be attached as needed to either boat. Apparently we discovered the battery lasted a good portion of the return trip up Indian Arm... but not all of the way.
The original 17 footer was stolen out of our carport so dad got a collapsible version which was used for a while until he decided to avoid excess wear and tear by keeping it assembled. Then in 1980 I towed my 15 footer up to the trail at Garibaldi Lake (the 2.5 hour hike took 6 hours with the kayak) on a converted baby buggy undercarriage. The views were well worth the effort.
By 1998, I was keeping my kayak in the underground parking area of my apartment in the West End of Vancouver, and would take it for paddles around Stanley Park and English Bay. I got my first taste of kayak-surfing when I managed to catch the wake of a boat and ride it from Siwash Rock to the English Bay beach. Around that time I also took a one-day course on rolling, but I don't remember ever successfully completing a roll.
Fast forwarding to 2013, I was living in Vancouver's Yaletown and no longer had a way to store a fixed kayak. I had read an article about the TRAK Kayak in an outdoor magazine and decided to check it out at a shop in Abbotsford. The quick assembly certainly appealed to me, and it fit my needs well, so I brought it home and it became my dedicated boat around downtown Vancouver.
I was pleased to discover the TRAK was a much more serious kayak than any of my previous boats, especially it's ability to roll successfully.
Although we later moved to a house with a garage and the collapsible feature wasn't as critical to me anymore, the ability to easily store it when not in use or to transport it inside the car was still most appreciated.
By now we were also fortunate enough to have a MacGregor 26X motor-sail boat, and I practiced stowing the TRAK below deck and assembling it carefully on deck (or the dock) before deploying at the locations we were visiting.
At this point I was pretty much a solo kayaker, since our family only had the one, so I was limited to short excursions near the 'mothership' in places like Sucia Island, Pender Island, and Desolation Sound. That changed in 2020 when I was invited to join TRAK's Pacific Rim Surf Camp at Wya Point on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Even though I felt a little out of my depth, everyone was so welcoming and helpful, that I couldn't help but come away with new and improved skills and a bunch of great memories. The accommodations and food took this camp to the next level and it was a huge bonus that I was able to bring my dog who became a bit of an unofficial TRAK mascot.
Last year, 2023, I attended TRAK's inaugural Owners Gathering in Nanaimo and participated in the two-night excursion to DeCourcy Island. For this trip, I finally had a dry suit, which felt like a life-saver on the rainy first day of the trip, but then allowed me to practice rolling and self-rescues when the sun came out. This was my first time using the TRAK on an overnight camping excursion, and it did great! As a bonus, the portability of the TRAK allowed me to wheel my boat and gear onto the ferry from Vancouver as a foot passenger!
Next up, I hope to participate in other TRAK adventures and continue to figure out ways to include my dog on my kayaking activities. Perhaps I'll retrace my steps back to Garibaldi Lake... but this time with the TRAK!
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