Along an Australian riverbank, a baby calf is being born, opening its eyes to the world for the first time. Carolyn “Chick” Dowd floats just 6 feet away and watches silently as the events unfold. At this moment, she discovers for the first time the powerful experiences kayaking can opportune, and plunges headfirst into the sport. Since this moment, Ms. Dowd has worked as an instructor in Thailand, Nova Scotia, and California, where she is also a member of San Francisco's national kayak polo team.
It wasn't just a love for kayaking that led Ms. Dowd to overcome a human's natural tendency to melt in water. When younger, she dreamed of being Julie, the cruise director from Love Boat. To that end, Island Spirit Kayak is the junction of Ms. Dowd's passions; a place that mixes fun activities with the natural surroundings of her hometown, Martha's Vineyard. Here, Ms. Dowd and her team of ACA-certified instructors can lead tours into tranquil waters or more advanced excursions toward the Aquinnah Cliffs, where sunrises paint warm colors across the exposed clay.
From beginners to experts, Ms. Dowd and her crew cater tours to everyone. Before each trip, they help people belly flop out of their comfort zones with a game of kayak ultimate frisbee, during which many feel compelled to jump out of the boat. The staff—which includes a school teacher—also has a soft spot in their hearts for children, welcoming little ones as young as 5 into kayaks.