Rides: Carol Petrich Kalapus’s Delta 14.5 Sport

An 86-year-old kayaker who began paddling at 75

When some folks are sinking into a Lazy Boy, Carol Petrich Kalapus of Tacoma, Washington, was easing into a kayak, for she started the sport at age 75. Foregoing lessons, she simply started paddling and is still paddling strong at age 86. She uses a two-wheeled kayak cart and a cane to launch her Delta 14.5 Sport, as her balance isn't what it once was due to a virus a decade back. Once in the cockpit, torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders stiffen her stroke, but she's elated to still be afloat. "I could be in a wheelchair at some convalescent home. I'm going to do this as long as I can, and enjoy it."

CanoeKayak.com: Where do you paddle?
Carol Kalapus: I've paddled almost all of the shore line of South Puget Sound from Olympia to Redondo, which includes the Key Peninsula, Fox Island, Nisqually Reach to Olympia, the Vaughn area, North Bay, Hammersley Inlet, Hope Island, Harstene Island, and so on. I've also paddled the lakes in the Pothole area of Eastern Washington and the lakes in our area.

You've covered a lot of water. I'm guessing you've gathered some good yarns. Wanna share?
While paddling in the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Washington, we got caught in a big wind storm. We were paddling as hard as we could, but losing ground. We were being swept along a steep rock cliff. I grabbed the one lone dead sagebrush branch, hung on, and called 911. After about 45 minutes, the rescuer craft appeared with men in dry suits. They jumped in and helped my friend and I into their boat and back to our campsite. We were in fine condition, so no medical aid was necessary. The rescue crew had just completed a week training with new equipment and were eager to try it out, so everyone was happy with the outcome of our adventure.

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That's quite a story. Got another?
Once, a seal pup tried to be my paddle partner. I touched the top of his head and he replied with a snap of his teeth. In the end, he didn't manage to get in.

Let's go for the hat trick.
Another time I had a nice salmon on my line, but a seal got a hold of my fish and dragged me around for several minutes. I finally got my fish.

Good stories! Your Delta kayak has gotten you out of few pickles. Why else do you like it?
I like it because of the type of plastic used in construction. The Delta kayaks are built from vacuum-formed acrylic-capped ABS plastic and are very smooth and good looking. They're lightweight and very stable, plus there's lots of space for camping gear.

Is there some place that this boat hasn't yet taken you that you'd like to go?
To the San Juan Islands.

Tell me about a sublime moment you had in this boat.
While camping on the beach, I did a sunset paddle with Mt. Rainier in the back ground and sunlight dancing on the water. I was one with nature and it was beautiful.

What's perfect paddling for you?
I like to paddle alone where I become part of the sea.

NOTE: The Delta 14.5 Sport has been replaced by the Delta 14. Mike Squarek, sales manager at Delta Kayaks describes the Delta 14 as "an all-around boat that does ocean and large lake touring. It has good stability, both primary and secondary, and carries a good load.”

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