Kayaks Hot, Canoes Not In Maine, outdoor enthusiasts are tossing aside their canoes for kayaks. Youth Radio's Molly Adams reports that many paddlers are now opting for the independence of kayaks over the traditional family-sized canoe.
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Kayaks Hot, Canoes Not

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Kayaks Hot, Canoes Not

Kayaks Hot, Canoes Not

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Every Thursday, we hear what's in and what's out from our friends at Youth Radio in our series What's The New What? Today, our story comes from Maine. Outdoor enthusiasts there have been taking full moon adventures, paddling out on lakes and bays to celebrate the last week of summer. What's new? How people are riding the waters. Molly Adams reports.

MOLLY ADAMS: What's the new what? Kayaking is the new canoeing. The open-hulled canoe is classic Americana. Boy Scouts don't kayak. They canoe. They even earn canoe badges, but lately, faster, sleeker, lighter kayaks have overshadowed and outsold the heavy lumbering canoe. And who cares? Well, we Mainers do. Canoes are the main paddle craft. They're a part of our history.

Mr. ZIP KELLOGG (Author, "The Whole Paddler's Catalog: Views, Reviews, and Resources") A lot of place names here in Maine, Kennebec, Penobscot, Presumpscot, Machias, they're river names.

ADAMS: That's Zip Kellogg, the author of "The Whole Paddler's Catalog."

Mr. KELLOGG: They have names like that because the Native Americans were traveling on these rivers in their canoes, mostly.

ADAMS: My earliest memory of a canoe is falling out of it. Maybe that's why kayaks sell better. They don't tip as easily. Zip doesn't think so.

Mr. KELLOGG: It's when people get in it that things start to happen.

ADAMS: You can see how the canoe versus kayak debate gets personal. But preferences aside, Maine's top paddling retailer, Johnson Outdoors, says kayaks are outselling canoes almost 3 to 1.

(Soundbite of flowing water)

ADAMS: I went to try out a kayak myself, something I haven't done in a couple of years.

Unidentified Man: Go ahead and get in there and get your butt as far back in the seat as it will go.

ADAMS: I'm in the Harraseeket Bay in Freeport, Maine on a kayak tour. I meet Ken and Eric Desmitt there, a father-son pair from Ohio.

Mr. ERIC DESMITT: Yeah, I'd rather go kayaking than canoeing.

ADAMS: Is it because it's like faster, or...

Mr. ERIC DESMITT: It's easier, too.

ADAMS: Have you ever been canoeing before, Ken?

Mr. KEN DESMITT: Many many years ago in the Boy Scouts.

ADAMS: That's the problem right there. Kids these days, they learn how to paddle on a kayak, not a canoe like the Boy Scouts did and do. Families are buying three or four kayaks apiece if they can afford it. Two small or tandem kayaks for the kids, two for the adults. That's a big shift from buying one canoe per family, and in Freeport, Maine, L.L. Bean's Alice Andrenyak has canoes in stock. They're just outnumbered.

Ms. ALICE ANDRENYAK (L.L. Bean): Recreational kayaks are significantly up in sales. This is a me boat, so people who have limited time can go off by themselves.

ADAMS: These me boats in personalized colors like Cloud and Sunrise are taking over, even as canoe sales remain steady. In a sign of the times, an Old Town, Maine fixture, Old Town Canoes, is now called Old Town Canoes and Kayaks.

I feel somewhat wistful about the rise of the kayak. I like canoes. They're kind of dorky in a slow, sweet way, and you can meet a friend in the middle to share a sandwich. Maybe in a few years, canoes will become an object of nostalgic lust and come back on top. But for now here in Maine, kayaking is the new canoeing.

BRAND: Molly Adams is from Blunt Radio. She comes to us as part of the Youth Radio and Day to Day series What's The New What?

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