On Saturday, August 5, eight members of the Ajijic Kayak Club dared to paddle seven miles across Lake Chapala to San Luis Soyotlán, the first such club adventure in nearly five years.
Founded in April 2010 (known then as the Lake Chapala Kayak Club), the Ajijic Kayak Club frequently undertook many challenging trips to, among other places, Scorpion Island, Petatán, Cajititlán, Tuechitlán, Pátzcuaro, Manzanillo and Barra de Navidad. It often sponsored moonlight and sunset paddles, and even hosted its own invitational competition. But that all ended with the onset of Covid and the loss of several key members who returned to the United States and Canada. The club resorted to three routine trips a week to Chapala and back, never venturing further than 100 yards from shore. It awaited better times and a new generation of inspirational leaders.
Five club members did participate in the Amistad Kayak Regatta in Querétaro on February 5 (covered in the February 28th edition of The Guadalajara Reporter), but that involved paddling around a small, shallow lake in another club’s event. Little risk or planning had been required.
Then, Keith Snider began mentioning that the club ought to return to the ways of old he’d heard so much about. “Why don’t we organize a trip across the lake?” The other kayakers nodded their heads and replied, staring back at him, “Yes. We just need someone to organize the trip.”
Keith rolled his eyes, and sighed, “OK.” Thus, a reluctant new leader was born. Almost immediately, others stepped forward as well, such as Charles “Chick” Twyman, who became Logistics Coordinator, and Michal Phillips who served as Safety Officer.
Safety has always been a priority for the club. Indeed, all members are required to take a yearly capsize-recovery class – a skill that would be essential on this trip. What if the weather turned bad – as it often does quickly on Lake Chapala – and someone fell over more than three miles from shore? As Chick cautioned in his four-page logistical information sheet to all participants, “There is no rapidly mobilizing water rescue capability nor related radio monitoring on the lake.” In other words, the intrepid cross-lake kayakers would be on their own.