It was my dad’s birthday yesterday, and my gift to him was to take him kayaking.
Lucky for us, Chambly is located on a large basin making it perfect for boating, sailing, canoeing, and kayaking – I’ve even seen people go windsurfing when it’s a particularly gusty day.
I’d only ever rented motorboats before – from Centre Nautique Splash – but this time around I was dead set on getting either a canoe or kayak rental for my dad. Having staked out the area in the last few weeks, I decided to go with Centre Nautique Gervaid-Désourdy, which conveniently was open for its first day of the season today.
Their offers of pedal boats, canoes, and both sea and river kayaks were very tempting. As was their promotional offer of $5 rentals for the first hour on this their opening weekend.
It was a tough decision, but in the end my dad opted for us to each go for a river kayak. Neither of us have gone kayaking in over ten years, so we booked them out for only two hours rather than the day (only $20 for both of us!), and were directed to the water.
The staff member helping us was super nice, handing us our life jackets and paddles and then letting us pick out the boats we wanted.
What with it being the first weekend open and us arriving later in the day to avoid the more potent sunshine (not to mention heat – it’s been hovering around 30C for almost a week now), most of the boats were already being used.
We did manage to snag the last semi-covered river kayaks though, which was a relief as the only other options were completely open face and would have been like sitting on a surfboard with a chair on top. Good to store my bag as I wanted to take photos.
Just before getting in, the staff member recommended some routes we take including one that would take us down a quiet creek where we could see ducks and turtles.
And we were off!
It definitely took some getting used to again. The awkwardness of the paddle vs the strength of the water’s currents combined with my complete lack of upper body strength meant I spent most of the trip floundering and veering into my dad’s kayak. But it was a happy floundering. I realized how much I missed the water and doing random but exciting activities like this.
We made it to the creek in about half an hour, taking in the sights of yachts roped together to create large floating party platforms and avoiding the cast lines of fishermen from the shores all the while.
When we saw the mouth of the turnoff, we angled away from the motors and blasting stereos and found ourselves in a little forgotten paradise.
Every so often we passed another kayaker, saying “Bonjour!” brightly as our ripples collided. But most of the time we had the whole place to ourselves.
As we got farther along, houses came into view just up the banks. Mansions, modest wooden homes, those with rickety-looking lookouts over the water that I wouldn’t have stood on if you paid me…I imagined what it would be like having a creek like this behind my house. I could have my own kayak and go any time I wanted.
It got really shallow in some bits to the point that we could feel the bottom of our boats scraping the sand beneath, but that only meant that the local wildlife was more prevalent – wading in and out of the pond-like water with ease. We saw no turtles, but many ducks – including a cute little brood of ducklings.
We traveled pretty far up, but the creek went on for miles and the draining sand in our hourglass beckoned us back to the docks.
It took considerably less time than we thought to go all the way back. Even with stopping to take photos of each other along the way.
By the time we got back onto the open water, my arms were already aching. Add the heat, dehydration, and keeping balance amid the rolling waves made by zooming motorboats, and I was pooped.
Luckily for me, we were back pretty soon – even though my dad was still full of energy and ready to go (you put me to shame, Dad). To appease the both of us, we ended twenty minutes early but promised to come back and have a second go on the next good weekend.
Perhaps we’ll do the canoe next time…
I have to say that was the most fun I’ve had in Chambly for ages. It was super affordable, the perfect stretch of time, and a truly extraordinary slice of nature seen in a way you don’t usually.
I highly recommend it to anyone coming to visit – and to use Centre Nautique Gervaid-Désourdy when you do!