The History of Sport Kayaking: How John MacGregor Invented Recreational Kayak

Table of Contents

Introduction

The history of Kayaks and Kayaking dates back to 4000 years ago and is a term coined by the Eskimo tribes. To them, this was a man-boat primarily for transportation and hunting for food. But in 1866 things changed when the first recreational kayak was invented. John MacGregor, a Scottish referred to as the father of sport kayaking through his invention and antics which saw him traveled 13 rivers and 6 lakes. MacGregor voyage documented in his book started in River Thames in July 1886, and in Aug 7 was in the Muese River, then head to Holland in August 11 to River Rhine to Frankfort in 17 August and voyaged the streams and in August 24, MacGregor heads back to the Rhine, then to Titisee, the Danube till September 2, then head to Ulm to Lake of Constance. The sporting arrived in Lucerne on September 10. The first course of the journey saw the Kayak traverse several kingdoms and state, namely, “Holland, Belgium, France, Wurtemburg, Bavaria, and the Grand Duchy of Baden, Rhenish Prussia, the Palatinate, Switzerland, and the pretty Hollenzollern Sigmaringen” (MacGregor). Besides, the Scottish published a book titled “A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe on Rivers and Lakes of Western”, and with the profit from the 1st and 2nd edition donated to the Royal national life-boat institution and The Shipwrecked Mariners Society charities. The evolution of sport kayaking has risen to the recent inflatable Kayaks, which can take more than one person. For example, Intex challenger k2 2 person kayak is an inflatable and foldable kayak for two people with an average weight of 180kg, and is portable from one place to the other.

Who built the first recreational Kayak?

The first boat by MacGregor was built by Messrs.’, Searle and Sons, of Lambeth. MacGregor termed the new invention as a new mode of recreational traveling for a healthy life exercise. To him, this was to energizer the paddler’s mind giving them the required energy to carry out activities optimally.  In his invention, MacGregor, wanted a recreational kayak to outshine the limitation posed by the numerous obstacles in the water, which open boats were unable to outmaneuver. Besides, a number of challenges, such as narrow channels, which wide open canoe could not sail through. In addition, if wide, they were shallow for a kayaker to row the boats. Also, these old boats could not navigate the rocks, snags, milldams, barriers, fallen trees, rapids waterfalls, and more.

Why recreational Kayak?

With the enormous challenges, MacGregor spotted an opportunity and tasked the Lambs men to construction a canoe to withstand the water navigation difficulties. With that, a new looking structure where the paddler sits facing forward and not backward was born. An easy to control the boat. The paddler sees all direction, sceneries, and can turn the boat with one powerful paddle stroke. Besides, without changing the seat, he can steer and roar the kayak in a narrow path. The obstacle, such as weeds, reeds, logs, and grass had a solution in this new design. He envisaged a simple model, easy to haul over shallow waters. A boat that is easy to carry on the shoulder or transport using carts, donkeys in the fields, and across the mountain and the plains.

The Kayak design

Designed with a covered deck. The inner boat section remains dry when the facing high breakers in the sea and open freshwater rapids. Moreover, the boats were stronger than the old boats, which were susceptible to sink during high tides. Safety and comfort guaranteed than the rowing-boats, a kayaker sit low on the canoe. Moreover, the paddler does not move from one section of the boat to another, but able to maneuver the boat while comfortably seated. With comfort and stability, the paddle is safely into your hand. When tired, you lean against the backboard and rest the paddles on the lap. You have the ability to eat or bite snacks, delicacy, or reading favorite books, and charting with the onlookers. In addition, turn the Kayak into a bedroom for night rest, which is possible due to the full length of the boat, allowing one to stretch their legs for comfort.

The Kayak Construction materials pros cons

The craft known as Rob Roy was made from an Oak tree, with fore and aft covered by the cedar wood. The measurements were the 15ft length, 28inches wide and 9 inches deep. The canoe had a total weight of 28 pounds, which displaced about inches of water. He constructed a 7ft kayak paddle with blades on both ends, a lug sail, and a jib. Besides, the oar had a blue silk union jack. The cockpit was 54 inches long and 20 inches wide with Macintosh cover, and for safety, the Macintosh was fixed firmly around the combing. With the pull together of the kayak done, it was time to venture into the unknown world of rivers, lakes, and oceans.

The recreational Kayaking Maps Challenges

There was a problem with the existing maps and routes where the rivers and lakes for the voyage were located. The available maps from German and Austrian was inaccurate and misleading and could not be relied upon them. For instance, villages in the thick forest were reflected around the river bank. It was further interesting to note that “Paris Boat Club knew nothing of French rivers.”

The Kayaking Clothing assembled by MacGregor

With adequate preparation for the journey, MacGregor assembled his kayaking accessories, namely, grey funnel suit and lightweight ordinary clothing. To complete the journey attires, the following were packed for the trip; “Norfolk jacket with six pockets; Cambridge straw hat; canvas wading shoes; blue spectacles; a waterproof overcoat, and a spare jib.” Wow, this was a complete recreational kayaking adventure regardless of the weather conditions and terrain, such as rain, sun, shallow, or narrow rivers. Safety of the paddler matters and that is why he took the necessary precautions to have the kayak safety gear. However, he didn’t have one of the best waterproof backpack for kayaking but the journey was a success.

The Recreational Kayaking Journey begins

The journey began, and when he finally reached the sought after location, the man, the boat, and baggage “Anna virumque canoe” was launched. He dedicated three hours to resting or floating, reading, or sailing. Another three hours was for heavy pull and finally a swim in the water. With the first day oaring the water, it was time to change the attire and embarked on a pleasurable walk. The first day of the expedition was brought to an end by a lively supper, conversation, books, photographs, , and sleep.

Kayaking in River Thames, Porpoises harmless and agile

THAMES; this is the river where MacGregor mastered the art of using the double blade paddle. Besides, it was an exercise for building healthy muscle and the limbs, and, it was here where he started the new white water sailing. During the time, steamers and sea-bound ship are busy moving and up down. It provided an opportunity for the MacGregor to interact and exchange pleasantry with the passing sailors. He spends a fortnight at River Thames sailing the little boat. As the challenge began in earnest, he came close to the porpoises, harmless and agile. They kept on coming close to the canoe. He was cautious enough not to frighten them with the paddle, knowing well that a flap was enough to turn the small boat upside down. Though many had predicted troublesome journey full of “hundreds of wasps, venomous flies, gnats, and more, MacGregor was lucky to be stung once on the hand by a fly for the entire journey.

Kayaking in River Noreaster; All the Tricks Tested

NOREASTER; It was time to test the little kayak in the rough water. To avoid damage, MacGregor selected a safe landing at the shore where least damage was expected on the Rob Roy Canoe. Here, he was astonished by the boats buoyancy and stability. Performing a little rig up in the midst of the waves, and with no luggage in the boat, all tricks and experiments were done. There was nothing left untested, which added more confidence and skills for better kayaking. With the skills, confidence, and the stability of the boat, he started directly in the teeth of the wind the following morning. He paddled against the heavy sea wind towards the South end.

Warm Bath at Noreaster

At the Southend, he stopped briefly to enjoy the warm bath as the drenched clothes dried up. But time was up to head back to Southend by the train, this was his first trip on the little cars. And while at the Thames, the canoe drew excitement and interest and many people flocked at the banks of the river to watch the craft. The reason behind the curiosity, he thought was as a result of the size of the small boat. While others were drawn by the type of the boat never seen before, and some attracted by the manner in which the rowing was done. Besides, people were attracted by the shape of the boat, cedar covering, and the jaunty flag.  MacGregor was frequently asked where he was going but replied with a smile that “I really do not know.”

Kayaking in River Meuse; Paddling and shoving the rocks

MEUSE; the kayaking explorer was cautious in the shallow water when the boat was lowered for the first time to wade. But after getting accustomed to the river, he paddled and shoved between the rocks. Here, he came across his first barrier and was nervous and anxious. After trial and error, he got over the huge rocks. Thereafter, he sailed easily in the wide, strong, deep river and the fast-moving river. It was such a great pleasure to Kayak in the meandering river at Huy as the grey crane jumped up and down. The duck flutters and splashes water as he moves into the rocking areas of the water. In the river, there was the Seraing, a fast-moving steamer, thrust by water forced from its sides. The little recreational kayak hopped and bobbed in the waves produced by the steamer as they move to the shore to dock.

Kayaking at River Liege, Joined by Lord of Earl of Aberdeen

LIEGE; MacGregor was met by the Earl of Aberdeen in a preplanned voyage trip. Surprising to MacGregor, Earl Canoe for the excursion was a foot long and two inches narrower than his Rob Roy. Furthermore, construction materials for the new Kayak were fir instead of the hardy oak week. The boat was from London, arrived with broken combing edges which occurred during the delivery to Liege. As a result, the recreational expedition was delayed for a few hours as the boat got mended. The duo left Liege in the hot sunny day to an unknown destination, as they sailed, paddled, and towed the boats together. They met astonished sedate people on the river banks, who were wondering what the hell was wrong with the Englishmen. Finally, MacGregor was convinced after several trials that towing was only necessary and useful when cramped from sitting.

Young hapless boy drowning

MacGregor was attracted by the sound from a distance in the middle of the river. He dashed to the scene while testing the speed of the boat, which was fast and straight. At the destination, he found a young hapless boy drowning, and offered the necessary assistance to the lad. He observed that in most rivers in Belgian, German, and French there a numerous floating baths devices to help in such a situation. However, they are only present in summer in the Britain Rivers when bathers gathered to shower. A typical bathing float is made of a wooden frame, 100 ft long, moored in the stream allowing free movement of water. Besides, the bath tab has a strong bottom made of strong bars, chains, and iron network. Further, they shallow and a deep pointed end to help bathers from drowning. We are reminded to have the Personal Floating Devices or dry waterproof bags.

Kayaking In River Rhine; the Superintendent Gift

RHINE; the team arrived after an exciting and challenging journey across the borders to Holland. From disgruntled folks who almost destroyed the canoes because he wasn’t employed to ferry the boats to the superintendent of the department who seized the boats for a present. But with a sigh of relief, a chief of passenger ordered for a special truck to ferry the boats together with the owners. Besides, the two paddlers paid no money at the Cologne terminal, and went straight to Belle Yue, at Deutz. Here, there was a gala organized by a singing society, and people were singing, dancing, and drinking.

A Moment of Interruption by a Bamboo Mast at River Rhine

At the Rhine, a wide part of the river was selected for the launch. In addition, the scenery was good, and the duo offloaded the canoes into the river and was met by the splendid breeze landing on the island. Here, the two enjoyed the yacht voyage, picnic, and recreational boat race. The pleasure was interrupted when the “sudden squalls on the canoe happened to the ground on a bank just at the most critical time, and the bamboo mast broke short.” With a stronger mast, the escapade continues for the rest of the day. As MacGregor paddled the Rhine River, Lord Aberdeen was on a train trip to inspect the Nahe River, which he found unfavorable for the kayaking cruise.

Rain Kayaking river Maim, black bread and raw bacon for breakfast

MAIM, the duo were greeted to a fine morning breeze in River Main which provides a perfect navigation path to follow for paddlers. But the sailing was interrupted by a series of the storm of rain which lasted to lunch. The duo sheltered in the nearby inn where they were served with “black bread and raw bacon.” This was the lowest moments of the journey as described by MacGregor. After the rain, the weather was fine for pleasure and sporting activities, and the wild ducks and heron wading the waters.

River Kayaking at the Danube; people on green-boughed wagons cheering.

DANUBE, “No river I have seen equals this Upper Danube, and I have visited many pretty streams. The wood is so thick, the rocks so quaint and high and varied, the water so clear, and the grass so green” (MacGregor). He enjoyed more pleasure from the rapid river motion. At the Danube, there was fast moving water between the source and Ulm about 1500ft, with 300 feet of fall, which was the most reassuring part of the voyage. Besides, overcoming difficulties added more pleasure and encouragement. When canoeing under the bridge, a group of people, on green-boughed wagons carrying jovial singers from Donaueschingen recognized the Kayak from the above and made a stopover. What followed was more song, cheers in the praise of the canoe.

Newspaper in Europe and America record Rob Roy Progress.

During the launch of Rob Roy at the source of River Danube, a group of people assembled to cheer the canoe. They spread the news about the little boat making funning moves, which later became the talk of the neighboring cities and towns. Conversely, the progress of the Kayaking journey wan not only recorded by newspapers in Germany and France, but England, Sweden, and America followed suit. After morning hours of wading in the village of Geisingen, MacGregor, left the canoe in the middle of the river under strict instruction to a young boy to keep vigil till he returns.

Queer Stranger Dressed Mysteriously

He moved on to the principal street where he found a house and was served with an outstanding meal. To his surprise, people gathered around the house to gaze at the queer stranger dressed so mysteriously. Equally, the sun was scorching during the day, but the paddler could not afford to rest under the tree and was better having a good time in the Kayak under a high rock, cold water cave, or underneath a wooden bridge. To enjoy the moments, he went straight at the top edge of the Mills’ weirs to launch the canoe into the deep waters. In other parts of the river, he had to sit astride on the Kayaks stern, having both the legs in the water to fend the boat from the huge rocks while steering cautiously.

The Three Safety Rules for Recreational Kayaking On Rob Roy

In the rocky stream, he had to move out of the boat most often to protect it from damages. To protect the Kayak, three safety rules guided him during the whole journey; care to the canoe first, the luggage and in particular the sketch-book, and third his comfortability. The sun came down so fast that he had to stop for the night and dinner in the town of Tuttlingen which cut across the river with a majority of the house turned into shops or a tannery. In this town, most men were at work either beating or scraping, or washing hides in the river. Once the new object was spotted for the first time in the town, people out jumping, shouting, and running after the canoe.

School children disappointed with Rob Roy launch delay

Unpleased by the people, the search for a better place continued, and he finally landed at the millrace. To his surprise, the word went round about the strange looking craft in town and soon the place was jammed with young and old sightseers armed with lanterns mounted ladders to have a glimpse at the boat.

The boys started gathering at six o’clock in the morning to witness the boat launch, but many were disappointed as they had to go to class. As children were running for classes, the elderly and non-school going kids flocked the bridge to witness the start, with other asking questions about the boat. Moreover, MacGregor was astonished and dumbfounded when he was asked by a man to “delay the start for five minutes, as his aged father, who was bedridden, wished exceedingly just to see the canoe,” and on this occasion, the guns were fired and bells rung to celebrate the Rob Roy’s morning paddle.

Breakfast at the Village Of Friedingen

The next breakfast stopover was at the village of Friedingen, but had a difficult on locating a safe place where the boat could be guarded as he continues with the breakfast. Fortunately, a man appeared with a donkey, who ferried Rob Roy into the donkey’s stable with a young man volunteering to steer the kayaker to the nearest inn.

Curious Onlookers at Sigmaringen

The next stopover was at Sigmaringen, here Rob was followed by curious bystanders wondering what the hell the little boat is. With determination, the villages traveled with the Rob Roy downstream to witness and to offer support in the impassable path. The town with an aristocratic air, with about 3000 inhabitants ruled by  ” His Royal Serene Highness the Hereditary Prince of Hohenzollern Sigmaringen,” had some of the lovely river scenery which Geography books could expound (MacGregor). Characterized by good gardens, a beautiful Protestant church, shops, hills, and schools

The first English Guest at Deutscher Hof hotel

His was welcomed at the Deutscher Hof hotel. The hotel opened its door three weeks before his arrival and was delighted to have their first English guest. Besides, the visitor not only came dressed weirdly but had a small funny looking boat accompanied by a group of gazers. At the hotel, MacGregor had a new companion. A newly recruited waiter, who arrived from the Palace Hotel, Buckingham Gate in London, whom he interacted with most of the time. At the village, the weather was superb as he paddled deep into the river with tree branches hovering over the water, with the sharp bends. The canoe was safely guarded against any wooded object underneath, which posed more danger than the rocks. Furthermore, under the low branches, the kayaking paddle becomes powerless as he could not lower one end to hold the water without raising the other and so catching it in the trees. In addition, there is poor visibility when the head is lowered at a certain angle. Besides, leaning backward offers the twig opportunity to scrape your forehead, as you risk losing the paddle into the river if you let your hand from it to protect your face.

Undisturbed Herons

The boat advanced silently to a group of undisturbed Herons enjoying their meal in the river bank while stared at the incoming boat. After the hurdles, came the favorable breeze across the river that soon turns into a gale, and with the opportune moment, Rob was speeding and dashed over the rocks past haymakers who caught sight of him and yelled to the rest about the moving craft. From time to time, the canoe was hand lifted when he came across a high waterfall or a barrier unfavorable for paddling. He was amused to pass into a group of people without the knowledge of a canoe and had never spotted a boat either, nor a foreigner in their lives.

Little Boy On A Thick Three Plank Wooded Boat

During such occasions, people ran, children cried, and some followed the boat. Around Sigmaringen, was the lonely part of the river Danube? But a little boy on a thick and clumsy boat made of three planks with pole and shovel as the paddle appeared, and this was one of the few boats he spotted during his voyage. However, “the lonely part of the river it seemed wise to take provender with me in the boat, and to picnic in some quiet pool, with a shady tree above” (MacGregor).

 hay makers watching on
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The Benefits of Kayaking

As he parted the DANUBE river, Rob observed that Recreational kayaking in the river comes with advantages and there is “increased acuteness of observation which it requires and fosters” and dark or bright water has significant importance for the boat paddler, because, when in clear water we can easily approximate the general depth of the river, visibility is increased, and ability to spot big rocks, trees, and obstacle from a distance.

Recreational Kayaking at Lake CONSTANCE

From the river meanders to the open waters of the lake in Switzerland, Rob was put into flat water kayaking test. He rested after paddling for a while, with all the sensations and amusement, and beauty everywhere, this was an exciting moment. The lake had no paths, no woods, and rocks, no other boats in the water, and he could paddle to any direction, left or right as he wishes. Besides, he “was utterly my own master of whether to steer, and where to stop,” and soon came the sound of a steamer’s wheel from a distance, later in the day, the steamer carrying passengers move past the boat with the on board cheering the newly seen canoe, and smile of as the steamer left.

Breakfast served by an Elderly Landlord

When the time for breakfast arrived, he selected an inn located in a retired bay where he found an elderly man of about eighty-six years, landlord, and a waiter. The elderly, was friendly and interacted with MacGregor as he ate, read, and sketched, and observing the mount views. Next, to the inn, there was asylum where women were held, they were briefly allowed to come out and see the Rob Roy canoe, with smiles on the faces and odd remarks and gestures, one by one they retreated. After the hearty retreat, he Rob was soon in the calm lake kayaking in the hot sun, and soon reached the town of Constance at the end of the Lake.

Kayaking Rest in the Town Of Constance

In the town of Constance, the boat was kept for a few hours at the custom in the house because the chief inspector was not in to do the work. But MacGregor protested about the move and about two hours was lost.  But when he agreed to and proceeded to inspect the kayak, the officer took as much time to do his job, but it was the stern of the Kayak that amazed the gentleman and wondered what the heck was in the dark hole. Once he was done, Rob was soon set free to board into the hotel for the night.

Kayaking In River Rhine Speedy Water, and Beautiful Topography

RHINE, from flat Lake Kayaking to river Rhine, wide, speedy water covered with beautiful sceneries. At the Rhine, the deep blue water with pebbly at the bottom which looked as if they are moving towards you from the underneath, with homestead and buildings spinning silently around the banks.  A river with a group of fishers casting their nets wide in the fast-moving river hopes to make a catch. Soon after leaving Boden See, or Lake Constance, the river’s width start narrowing as you move deep into valleys, open grassy islands, and shallow banks. At the banks grows the tall reeds with fishing boat hasten by poles stacked in the muddy river bottom. Besides, there are crudely made barges with two broad bands and a dark blue clothing floating and unable to cope up with the current speed at the rivers deep end. As well, there are crudely made barges with two broad bands and a dark blue clothing floating and unable to cope up with the current speed at the rivers deep end.

Zeller See or Unter See a Lake with a Snowy and Fogy background

Wow, it was lovely as the current flows gently as the paddler entered Zeller See, or Unter See, a pretty Lake with the snowy and foggy background. Time for rest was, here again, the explorer kayaker pulled out at the Steckborn village, with an inn built situated at the river bank and most convenient for the aquatic tourists. What a lovely joint where you can order your delicacy while having leisure ashore. This was the most appropriate joint where he could tie the canoe on the window’s balcony, or at a position where it was visible at all times either during breakfast, dinner, rest, reading, or drawing. During the whole voyage, MacGregor, observed that when the canoe is left floating in the waters, “very few boys, even of the most mischievous species” will interfere with it, however, very few men, even of the most amiable order, will refrain from pulling it about when the little craft is left on shore.”

The Metal Frame, Two Tin Boat Racing Against Rob Roy

Back at the inn, the owner seems interested in the recreational kayaking journey as portrayed in Rob Roy sketch-book and brought a French-speaking friend to have a look. The latter constructed a two tin tube supported by a metal frame, with a seat and rowlocks. They chatted and was convinced to test his two tube into the river, and side by side the two cruise together. It was unprecedented to have the old looking craft made of double tube metal, low and rakish with a modernish kayak race side by side rowed to a village inhabited by the Jewish, but the duo found themselves invading the “Grand Duchy of Baden land”, a heavily guarded place, and were forced to land elsewhere and back to Switzerland.

Kayaking In the Fog, a Sensational Experience

Kayaking in the fog offered a sensation experience. He paddled the water without clearly seeing where he was headed to. He “had had the liveliest emotions of pleasure without seeing anything at all,” and what a lovely ending of the fog, it was an interesting evolution of nature for mankind to witness in the middle of the river (MacGregor). As he traveled and marveled at the natural sceneries, the paddler observed that any scenery is only good and only if the Canoe was the medium for adoring it.

Three Miles of Kayaking At Lake Zurich

LAKE OF ZURICH found the water in a good state and did three miles of Kayaking before ordering a cutlet, potatoes, and fruit from a second rated German inn. After a day resting, the Rob Roy canoe was back into the waters that evening, and it was such a lovely time, cool, and calm. As he paddled, the shadow of the village houses around the lake was painted underneath the water, with smooth music beaming in the atmosphere, as the moon traveled slowly to its resting cage, and the hills gathering crest of snow. After evening kayaking, the boat was securely kept at the boathouse, and through the entire journey, this was the only time the boat had a customized house.

Jubilations by the Horgen boys

Later that evening when MacGregor was sated with recreational paddling, he stops at the Horgen for the night, and soon the Horgen boys were jumping and singing yet others were dumbfounded about the craft. During the expedition, there exist different kinds of the groups with varying degree of curiosity about the canoe; first, there are those who simply examined the boat without inquiries, second, those that asked questions without observing, and third, those that examined with numerous questions. Besides, others placed their fingers on the Kayak’s deck to feel the material, while others check the boat bottom for any existing keel, while others stretched the ropes for flexibility. The frequently asked question was the dimensions of the boat. The wise onlookers went further to sketch the boat and scrutinized the coppers’ nails.

Lake Zug, Cruising the Waters with Vigor

LAKE OF ZUG, a few hours walk from Lake Zurich was the next stopover during the expedition. Here, red putty was lined on the seam of the boat plunks before it was released into the water. The process seemed to slow to the group who had gathered to witness the launching of the canoe at the Zug, while others patiently waited for the exercise to be over, some left in a huff as if they were protesting the slow pace at which it was done. The weather was perfect and soon the Rob Roy was cruising the lake with novel vigor as it was a refreshing moments after a three hours dusty trip and paddled his Kayak while scanning the suitable hotel by appearance for the evening.

Curious Boats at Zug

Before long, there were a number of boats in the Zug going round to examine the floating strange object. The boats were larger than the Rob Roy, painted brightly, and encumbered “with the most awkward oars” of all times. Soon a Frenchman approached MacGregor, with whom they had a few pleasantries about the Lake, and led the Englishman to one of the best hotels where they were welcome by a landlady. At the hotel, the landlady kept the canoe at the coach house and handed over the keys to MacGregor, who felt to be home once more forgetting his lonely wandering in the foreign waters among strangers. The next morning, the boat was on the clear water of the Zug where MacGregor hauled apple trees to steer the boat, and after several practices, he “could not only set the mast and hoist the sails “at sea,” but could even stand up and change his coat, or tie the flag on the masthead.” Further, he could tie the flag while the boats sail on the masthead and scan and survey channels that looked most difficult, while the Kayak was cruising the waves.

When sailing, he noted that during low wind, the paddler does not need to sit as with the paddling. Since you are floated by the breeze, one can recline, lie down, or up, you can have your legs anywhere and anyhow in the water.

The Retreat at Lmyn

After cruising Zug for many hours, the sailor retreated to a small town called the port of lmyn with a few houses here and there. Though the town was small, the boys were troublesome forcing the canoe to be locked in the stable out of view. During the stopover at the tiny town, a small group of Englishmen came and had a little fun fishing as they waited for the steamer, and in the process had a few questions for Rob. One inquired whether the whole exercise or voyage by the Kayaker was a waste of time. But when probed further how they have spent their time vacationing, one replied that “Oh, I was all the time at Brighton.” A second traveler asked whether it would have been prudent for the Kayak to be spacious enough to accommodate two people for one to attend to the luggage.

Kayaking in Lake Lucerne

LAKE OF LUCERNE, Rob Roy was loaded into the cart at five francs headed for the lake, a walking journey which takes only half an hour from the town of Lymn. Surprisingly, the landlord was the driver of the cart as he had interest in the canoe and kept on calling those who had missed an opportunity to grasp the passing canoe. At the Lucerne, they arrived at a prominent village known as Kuussnacht, which is adored by newlywed couples for honeymoon vacations. The canoe was offloaded and soon the little craft was cruising the waters, penetrating the wooded nooks, while the paddler was having fun moving from one viewpoint to the other, visiting the rocky islet of the lake, took his good time as he wished. Looking at the ground when kayaking, it groundswell gradually, while the hills were shaded by the dark passing cloud, and soon the steamer red flag could be spotted from a distance. With the experience from the gained from the previous exercises, McGregor, spent more than 10 hours at the Lake doing all manner of tricks and maneuvers.

Overnight Stay at Seeburg with Lovely English Music

When evening came, a quiet hotel known as Seeburg was identified for an overnight stop. Here, there were bathing points at the end of the garden situated at the lake shore, fishing roads numbering four stretched over the reeds for sport fishing. The boat was safely placed in the shade, followed by a delicious dinner, done with the meal, MacGregor was in the water swimming from the deep to shallow end enjoying every minute of it. The evening was crown with lovely English music, parting, and moonlight walks, which was contrary to the big hotels where once you are done with your super, you get rested into your room.

Kayaking In River Reuss

RIVER REUSS, his determination saw him Kayak from Lake LUCERNE through River Reuss, with its source at the Lake, which passes through the town. Besides, it’s among the four rivers, namely Rhine, Rhone, Reuss, and Ticino that traversed the neighborhood of St. Gothard with one channel draining into the German ocean, while the other flows into Mediterranean seas. For traveling Kayakers, the river offers rapid waters which traverse the Swiss mountains. MacGregor reckons that he had a special interest because he “once ascended the Galenhorn over the glaciers, and with only a useless guide, who lost his head and then lost his way, and then lost his temper and began to cry” (MacGregor). As the guide cried, the snow started falling while the storm intensifies for about six hours before being rescued by searchers with lights send to look for ignorant pleasure-seeker.

Kayak on the shrinking rivers

River Reuss Torrent Gorges 

Back to the Reuss River, a 1,400 feet above the sea, features cascades and torrents gorges which run through the rough crags, with a fall estimated at 6000 feet before reaching Lake of Lucerne. Kayaking in the river offered a much-needed change of environment from the sluggish sensation of dead lake water to the lively timid thrilling of the rapid water of the Reuss, which is as wide as the Rhine. Besides, the stream is wild and fast moving water for navigation, which forced the villagers to build far from its banks, further, there are no boats, but blessed with pathless, forest covered banks to see. As he commences paddling, the journey was with much ease, since the water was less than two feet deep with underground sharp and jagged rock and debris observable.

Change of Sceneries and River Terrain

But things changed in the middle of the stream, the water became swift instilling fear of losing the straw hat with the breeze created by the speeding wind. The voyage on the channel was more fun and interesting as each passing section had gravel banks and huge stones to maneuver, and several channels to select from. The wire ropes stretched from one end of the river to the other and required high concentration and good judgment to avoid being strangled. All these obstacles turn the whole canoeing interesting as the paddler needs to observe beneath the water, make the correct judgment on the distance of the hanging ropes.

The distance of Kayaking Determines by Waterfall or Artificial Barriers

MacGregor reckoned that the distance covered kayaking a day is determined by the number of a waterfall or artificial barriers encountered, which are either too high or too dry to make way for the canoe. When such a situation arises, the boat is drug around the field to the next landing point. Not long before Rob Roy entered the uncharted territories, the river was several feet high, with rocks, and rapid waters, however, MacGregor, was forewarned about the challenges ahead but he casual dismissed the caution saying that he would safely pull out the canoe and drug it to the best spot, but the wise man replied ” Ah ! But the banks are a hundred feet high.”

Kayak Swept By Strong Winds and Currents and a Bill of Twelve Francs

Soon, the boat approached a sharp bent and was swept away by the current grinding and bumping into the stone the keel and sides. He was pushed slowly by the currents and jerks until canoe approached a sailable path with white ridge blending foam. At last, the paddler felt excited. But it was the opposite with the heavy waves swiping the boat forcing MacGregor to cling on for hours while panting. The waterproof cover prevented the boat from over flooding, though a little water had its way on the Kayak. With the troublesome section of river Rues, the Rob Roy was rested at the town of old Roman town in Bremgarten, built along the bend the river with houses stuck between the river and the rocks. He pulled the craft into the kitchen of woman who was amazed about the boat getting its way in her house, but within a few seconds, the house was abuzz with people gazing at the boat and wondering what was happening. Surprisingly, the following morning, he received a bill of twelve francs, which doubled that actual amount, however, MacGregor “made the landlord here take eight francs as a compromise.” 

Kayaking In River Limmat and a Strange Guest at the Millers

River LIMMAT, he hoped to escape from the previous challenges in the newfound waters, but what started well soon change to the old yesterday with a “varied enjoyment from morning to night.” The water was rapid with few challenges, with one raft prepared to get into the water, and when the man was asked why there are no boats, he simply replied that it is not possible to paddle boats upstream. To breakfast was difficult along the river because the villages were high on the cliffs. Clothed in a universal flannel, he landed unobserved at a miller with the door opened walked straight inside the house leaving his oar behind.

Piano, Supper, and Excitement at the Miller

The sound from a piano-led him to the drawing room, where a young miller rose to usher in the stranger, and exchange pleasantry. The stranger in the empty stomach had no time to waste and requested bread and wine but had a few minutes to explain about his voyage and presence at the miller. Soon the table was set with the anticipated meals, and what followed was lively conservation between the two, who were later joined by other two for what turns to be a party rather than a paddlers’ breakfast. Further, “the adventures of Ulysses had to be told to three Penelope’s at once.” For the first time, MacGregor came face to face with a rural life seeing domestic employees and laborers at the farm seat themselves at the lower table.

The Ladies Screamed and Clapped

When the ladies discovered the canoe, what followed was a scream, claps, and surprised as the paddler cruise into the water, and this was the time for the ladies to say adieux to the stranger who left feeling happy and pleased for the warm reception accorded. After rowing for about forty miles in the sun, the Kayaker needed to fuel, and luckily he sported place by the edge of the river serving omelet and chops. He placed his order and soon the table was arranged under pear tree by the river bank, while Rob Roy was rested on the ripples of his feet. It was such a pleasurable moment during sunny mid-morning, freshened “by a bunch of grapes and a pear plucked from above my head…” before proceeding with kayaking down the stream under the towering rocks, rapids here and there, zigzagging among orchards, vineyard, and scented hay.

Kayaking River Aar with Source at Finster Glacier and Weirs 

With the hills and contour ahead, MacGregor knew that there were rivers and stream ready to join the Reuss. When rowing in Limmat River on the other side was river Aar side by side flowing towards the same direction? The Aar river has its source from the two glaciers, namely, Finster Aar glacier, which is located a few miles from the Grimsel and the Rhone glacier. There was no great danger kayaking in Aar but only for the noisy, brawling torrent was there to meet the canoe. Besides, there were mills weir constructed with the waterwheel, with some arranged to permit the shaft to be raised or lowered to align with the water level during flooding and drought periods. Except for a few that were diagonally done, and with two half weirs converging in the middle of the river forming a V shape with the sharp end turned upside down.

The V Shape and Challenges

The V shape structured left narrow passages and as he Kayaked, he had to be cautious and continuously be on the lookout for the narrow openings through which torrent flawed with rough waves. To navigate the barrages, he had to shoot and lower the boat when necessary. In one incident, MacGregor became careless and without probing the waters’ depth at the edge of the fall, decided to take it head-on with the boat. However, he observed that   “while a depth of three inches is enough for the canoe to float in when all its length is in the water, the same depth will by no means suffice at the upper edge of a fall…” but he was not lucky this time around as the fore end of the Kayak was stuck under the rocks beneath the fall, hanging the boat upon the edges of the river, making it difficult for the canoe to go either way, and also make it hard for the paddler to come out of the boat from the sitting position. Besides, jumping feet foremost meant breaking the knee and injuring the roars head.

When Kayaking, Avoid Unnecessary Places Which May Cause Damage To Your Craft.

Rob Roy had brought MacGregor this far but careless decision exposed it to Kayaking dangers which would have broken the canoe into pieces. After a few minutes of fixing, the boat was on the Aar moving into the old Rhenus in the town of Waldshut, located at the forest edges, leaning over the river bank. At the bottom of the cliff exists a few little houses and narrow pathway “which Rhine courses with rapid eddies deep and strong” (MacGregor). While cruising the Aar, an elderly fisherman with his canoe roared to the Rob Roy, where he shouted of who he was and had been courier to an influential family and had journeyed seven years in Italy, and how he can use artificial flies to catch the fish, and why he was best suited to keep the kayak.

An Old Ex Courier Fisherman Antics

After a few rounds here and there, the boat was moved to the ex-courier drawing-room for the night while the paddler ascended the hill to the hotel aloft. Surprisingly, the Oldman followed MacGregor to the hotel at Walclshut, a town compose of one wide street with a pretty garden at the end. Soon the word spread in the small town about the boat rider who was moving around the globe with a small craft presence in the vicinity. Furthermore,  the newspapers had told them about a pocket-size canoe, which aroused the curiosity of men and ladies, and indeed one gentleman expected the MacGregor to unfold the boat from his pocket,  based on the French newspaper that has reported a man moving over the country “with a canoe under his arm.” The Kayaker had a wonderful evening with entertainment and excitement brought about by the presence of his little boat.

The Journey Homeward On River Rhine

The following morning, the journey homewards on the Rhine was inevitable, with the ex-courier delivering the canoe from the wife’s washing tubs, placing it gently on the Rhine water, and uttering a piece of advice to the paddler on how he must “keep to the right” when approaching the falls of Lauffenburg, because the English lord was a testimony to the effect of the falls as he was swept and drowned. Further, caution is required when cruising the Rheinfelden rapids which swept an Englishman fisherman who made an attempt to descend on them on his little boat. The lecturer ended and Rob Roy was on the water sailing the wide river, a splendid scene to the boat, and with “lofty banks of rock, and rich meads, or terraces laden with grapes” it was not before too long when suddenly gale appeared forcing rob to jib in time to avoid fatality.

Kayaker’s dangers: Storm and Winds

Storm and heavy winds are some of the dangers faced when kayaking. Shortly, a minor hurricane descended on the land blowing dust on the road, pulling off hats, and whisking up the hay and tree branches were not spared either. As this continues, MacGregor kept the slug-sail set, and once the wind and current moving in the direction Rob Roy was scudded than before with extra exertion in managing the boat in “whirlwind above and whirl water below” which lasted for about half an hour.

A Boy Yelling and Panting Furiously

Besides the excitement, a boy ran after the boat, yelling and shrieking and waving for assistance which MacGregor didn’t take notice due to the heavy wind and the storm.  The Kayak drew nearer to the troubled young man who was panting furiously and uttering out “Wasserfall, Wasserfall, funf minutes!”(MacGregor). The boy was swept away by the breeze to Lauffenburg and the whistle of the heavy winds had drowned the paddler of the water. It was time to put the ex-courier directive into action as McGregor crossed the river bank on the right, and as the sail lowered gradually enabling the boat to be hauled on a raft. The young man relieved and breathing life narrated how a few minutes delay would have cost him his life.

Grotesque Carter and a Most Crazy Vehicle

The boy set of in search of cart to convey the canoe, while Rob Roy was pulled further high on the river bank, and soon the boy returned with grotesque carter and the craziest vehicle powered by milch cow, they were all in laughter as they hosted Rob Roy on the cart and anon the cow kicked whatever was in site be it the cart, the boat, and anything. The trio marched on to the little town of Lauffenburg with people rushing to witness the fun of a cow drawing a cart to one of the best hotels.

People Struggle To Pronounce The Boat Roab Ro…

In this small town, people struggle to pronounce the name of the boat with others spelling “Roab Ro,” at others ” Rubree,” but a man in spectacles called out, ” Ah ! ah! Valtarescote ! “. The following morning, MacGregor invited the young man for breakfast who was the darling of the town has brought an Englishman with cart ferrying a boat, while at breakfast they were told about four–an oared boat with five Englishmen from London by land to Schaffhausen, after which they descended into the river Rhine to Lauffenburg.

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