Recently, this column ran a contest to help me find a new hobby. Due to overwhelming reader demand (someone wrote in who I am not related to) I’m pleased to provide this update.
The activity I chose was dragon boating. Unfortunately, I ran into one insurmountable obstacle in taking up that hobby. I found out what it is. An online promo read, “Are you ready for some ab-crunching, lung-busting fun?” I decided I’m really not.
Instead, I went Viking boating.
Vikings were a scrappy, warrior-like people, living in one of those periods of history when life was “nasty, brutish and short.” For many people, the Vikings were responsible for the “short” part.
A Viking’s Facebook page would read: “Hobbies: Hanging with friends, stripping naked, painting body red then descending on unsuspecting towns, howling at top of lungs.” They were a little like our modern-day soccer fans except unwashed, liquored up and totally bent on complete annihilation of the other side. OK, they were a lot like soccer fans.
Arriving at the boat club, I could see some subtle changes have taken place in the last thousand years.
It’s possible, for instance, that real Vikings did not wear Lululemon yoga pants. And shorts designed to keep delicate tushies from rubbing uncomfortably on the boat seat. Possibly that’s what caused all the howling.
First, we were introduced to some of the challenges of Viking boating. For my group this included “getting into the boat.” The teacher offered helpful instruction such as, “Stop getting in from the side.
Enter from the stern. No, the other stern. The pointy end. No, the other pointy end. Everyone just get in from the side.”
I learned that “fixed carriage” means the oar cannot slip from your hands as you paddle and go sailing off down the bay. I also learned, however, that it may get hopelessly jammed in someone else’s oar, has to be removed from the oar lock, then slip from your hands and go sailing off down the bay.
Our crew wasn’t entirely hopeless. We got trounced in the practice races, but on the way into shore, miraculously, we found our groove. We pulled together. Didn’t “over-dip.” Suddenly, we shot past the other boats. The fact that they were practising paddling backward at the time didn’t dampen our excitement for a moment.
Will I do it again? Absolutely. I am Viking. Hear me roar. Now, I’m going right out to get some Lululemon pants.