Baddeck Buddies...Goin' Down the Road 2001

Bruce MacRae (Herring Choker Deli) my Baddeck buddy, and myself rented an Avis truck on Thursday and headed out for Maine. Six and a half hours later we were outside the compound in Old Town. Since neither Bruce nor I have any experience with kayaks, it seemed rather stupid for us to look through the fence in the twilight to look for anything. The only thing we could do was read the rules for the sale and get to our motel room to get a few hours of sleep before 4 AM.

Morning came early, 3:45 AM as a matter of fact. It was 4:40 AM by the time we got to the gates of the compound. Surprise, we were standing in line behind Gordon Warnica, Bruce Duffy, Greg Vail, Bernie and Ben Levy, Maureen and Brian MacLaughlin. Maureen had done her homework and was acting like a 'Carney insider'. "Psst... what kind of boat are you looking for big fella?" "Millennium 174?" " Over on the right past the yellow one standing up, don't tell them I sent you." She was amazing, ask her any kayak or canoe and she knew where it was. I had done some homework. I had a printout of the specs for the kayaks and I did have them ranked in priority order. Bruce on the other hand wasn't really sure how to spell the word kayak.

When the gates opened around 5:25, there was a mad dash into the compound. For those of you that have never participated let me tell you it's organized mayhem. These canoes and kayaks are scattered on the ground with no rhyme or reason to their organization. It's hit or miss. All the boats are priced, some are damaged, most aren't. You have to have a keen eye and be aggressive without being pushy. I quickly realized that I had about 10 minutes to make my decisions. It's amazing how much you can learn in 10 minutes. Bruce still couldn't spell kayak. Finally I grabbed an Old Town Nantucket for myself. Bruce had actually started looking for a Loon 120. I gave him my kayak and told him to watch it and I'd go looking. My search was fruitless, couldn't find a 120 but there was a River Runner R5. I grabbed it and gave it to Bruce and said, "this one is yours!" (Any boats have to be hauled pushed or carried to a spot that you claim for yourself. This is not as easy as you think. You have step over, on, around boats and people. You have to apologize allot.) I had to make some hard decisions on whether to buy a 3 man canoe for a friend (Shane) of mine or not. With Bruce Duffy's guidance, I eliminated one of the 2 that I set aside for Shane, and had to decide how I was to transport it to Halifax. Since it was so big, I didn't want to take any chances scratching the rental truck. Bernie offered to take the canoe if we could take a kayak. This was very thoughtful of Bernie, but I told him Shane's decision to buy a canoe was a last minute, nice to have, decision and he wouldn't be disappointed if he didn't get one. So I decided leave the canoe. (great price $340 US)

After these decisions are made, you now have to wait until they open their cash machines. They do set up some portable one's in the compound but you can't pay until you have an invoice from one of their roving price people. Cash opens at 7:00 AM and that's when the invoicing crew starts. So you have to cool your heels for an hour or more. If you're lucky you can get someone to watch your loot and graze around the compound. Still lots of stuff available. We were very lucky this year. Bruce and I were one of the first 10 people to pay for their equipment. After you pay, then you have to drag your booty to the main gate, show your paid receipt and exit. It wasn't until we got the kayaks on the truck and looked back into the compound did I realize just how many people had arrived since the gates had opened. The place was crawling with people. More people were entering the compound by the minute and we wanted out of there. We hit the road at 8:00 AM. I realize if I do this again, and I think I will, I'll never get out as early.

The trip back was uneventful. We stopped off in Halifax, "to rest" on Friday night then on to Baddeck on Saturday morning to drop off the kayaks. There was 42 CM of snow on Kelly's Mountain on Saturday so I headed back to Halifax to hibernate. At the rate this spring is going, I'll get to use my kayak August 10th.

I'd like to thank the Gonzos for their patience in dealing with my really stupid questions. Incidentally can anyone tell my why the rigging is on these boats? It seems like wasted nylon to me.