Kayaking the Annapolis Basin

Jill, Anne and Erica ready to hit the water.

Erin’s story:

Jill and I went home for a week this month, to celebrate our mama’s birthday. We also took the opportunity to take advantage of the amazingness that is Nova Scotia in the summer. I’ve lived in Ontario now for five years, and I may say: I’m sorry, Ontario. Your summer weather can’t hold a candle to Nova Scotia’s weather. Your air is too hot. Your water is not vast enough or salty enough. Simply put, Nova Scotia is the best place to by in July.

(As long as you’re on the ocean. If you’re in the middle of the woods — like the house we grew up in is — be prepared to be eaten alive by bugs!)

While we were home, Annie, the littlest sister, suggested we go kayaking. She’s spending the summer working at the Dockside, which is a pub in downtown Digby that sits on the water and is the epitome of every seaside bar you’ve seen on film and television. But it’s lovely and they recently started renting kayaks. HOORAY.

Anne and Jill paddling like pros.

Kayaking is my favourite kind of paddling and it’s something I wish I did more often. Jill and I keep making grand plans to kayak to the island, but it has yet to happen. So I’m glad Anne suggested we take the boats out at high tide one morning.

Yup, Digby is the kind of place where the schedule depends on the tide. It’s awesome.

Our uncle Peter and cousin Erica joined us and we were off. We decided to head to the base of the Joggin river, which is the river that snakes up the back of our house. It’s seriously weird — and amazing — to sit in a bay you drove by every day growing up. It changes your perspective on pretty much everything. For a moment it made me love the little town I grew up in, even though I spent 18 years dying to get out. The weather the perfect, the water was calm. Everything was grand.

Oh, and I learned I’m way way way better at kayaking than Jill. And, really, that’s all that matters.

So if you’re ever on the East Coast, I have two suggestions: go to the Dockside and tip my sister well. Then rent some kayaks and take the Annapolis Basin in. It’s an enclosed harbor and there’s not a lot of boat traffic — which means it’s perfect for first-time or newbie paddlers. And if you’re really experienced, you can head to the nearby towns of Bear River or Annapolis and back in a full day. It’s worth it. I swear.

Summer on the east coast is always worth it.

Jill’s story:

Okay, “a way way way better at kayaking than Jill”? Please. Don’t let Erin’s suttle enthusiasm fool you. Just because she decided to kayak much further away from the rest of us to try and reach the deserted island in the middle of the Digby Gut — it’s called Bear Island — doesn’t make her a better kayaker. But if that’s what it takes to make you “better” then I guess Erin wins this around. I bet if we raced, I’d be faster. And that’s all that really matters. I, on the other hand, decided to hang back and take the more leisurely approach to kayaking and took in much more important sisterly bonding with our baby sister Anne.

I am clearly the better big sister.

Kayaking is one of those things that looks so much easier than it really is. It takes a lot of coordination, arm and shoulder strength. And you also need to be able to say put on your butt for quite some time. That being said, I will give it to Erin, she took to the coordination much quicker than I. Good thing Anne is not as nearly as out to out do me in because I clearly needed a lot of assistance. Of which she was super helpful to my kayaking capabilities. The niceness came through no doubt when it was easily sensed she was better kayaker, but that’s besides the point. I was grateful for Anne’s help. I still blame the wonkie paddle and I also had a different boat than Erin and Anne. And Uncle Peter and Erica were off soaring in their 2 person kayak. I was set up for failure from the start.

And give me a break! The last time I was in a kayak I might have been 15 when I went on a trip to Weymouth (an even smaller town than Digby, if you can believe it) with my Dad.

Now back to the important details – kayaking as it relates to fitness.

I felt fantastic roaming the salt waters of my hometown. The ocean sea breeze, the open bliss of life in a super small town, made me really appreciate my childhood. I left actually feeling for once, that I actually could have stayed longer. But Erin said it best: Nova Scotia is amazing in the summer. Growing up on a golf course, my summers were spent as far away from the ocean as you could possibly get. But for some reason the feeling of home really struck a sentimental cord with me. I’m getting emotional in my old age, or my Mom’s old age. Sorry Mom, I couldn’t resist.

One thing is for sure there are many ways one can be fit in a small town, on vacation or in Nova Scotia – or all of the above! Kayaking is one of those activities that does’t require lots of experience or preparation to do. It’s not entirely complicated and it’s a good work out. You’ll have sore arms and shoulders the next day, and that’s a guarantee! I sure did.

And if you’re not convinced yet that Digby is a place for you, just head towards Shelburne Road and you’ll know for a fact that rednecks really do exist. Then you’re know for sure.

Jut watch out for the bears.


(Editor note: Jill’s not joking about the bears.)




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