The group rallied at Juanita Beach Park in Kirkland, and milled around for an hour or so looking at all the boats and paddles and other gear that folks had brought.

Joe Matuska from Aquabound came with a paddle that has a brand new joint mechanism – they’ve applied for a patent and that was the first day he could talk about it in public. Shelley Furrer from Werner Paddles also had a new paddle – it’s still kind of secret and weighs next to nothing. Of course Shelley was the person to get a hold of Joe’s paddle, and he was eager to check out her paddle as well! One of the things I love about this industry is the friendships among people who are business rivals.

Mark Hall brought a couple of his new thermoformed Delta Kayaks down from Vancouver to show off. Chris Jacobs from Old Town brought a couple of Cayugas, a day-touring kayak that a couple of our first-time paddlers enjoyed.

I paddled, to use the term loosely, with Peter Kaupat from Easy Rider, who brought his kayak sail rig along. He made a catamaran of two kayaks and rigged it out with a couple of sails, and we sailed across Lake Washington. See my note on the message boards about my first experience kayak sailing.

The other unusual craft we had was Lisa Markman and Harry Howard’s Wavewalker. You pedal to turn a small propeller under the boat, rather than paddle. The boats zipped right across the lake under pedal power.

We also had Morgan Goldie from Northwater Rescue with a nifty new tow belt, Tim Rosenhan from Innova Kayaks in his Seaker inflatable sea kayak, Tami Fairweather from Cascade Designs with some new PVC-free drybags, Gary Hubbert and Matt from Seattle Sports, Jillian Mintz from Witz Cases, with a new first-aid kit in a waterproof box, and Tom Kimmet from REI. And I’m sure I’m overlooking someone. Some of our local writers joined us as well – Steve Salins, Beth Geiger, Libby Bliss, John Radel, and Marty Grabijas. And everyone from Canoe & Kayak – editor Ross Prather, senior editor Mike Kord, ad director Jim Marsh, account executive Jason Gritten, art director Jason Mohr, assistant art director Eric Redrico, and Web editor and photographer John Bolivar.

See more photos here.

We paddled out across Lake Washington and on over to Magnuson Park, where Will from Seattle Raft and Kayak caught up with us. We also picked up two other people on the lake who had seen the flotilla coming across and paddled over to see what the scoop was. Later we adjourned to a nearby establishment for beer and pizza.

What’s the point of days like this? It’s to remind us of why we’re in the paddlesports business – a chance to get on the water with our friends. And if we can call it work, so much the better!