2,099 Kayaks for Christmas. Thanks, Mom!

by K.M. Zahrt


Very early in the morning on Saturday, August 31, 2013, my mother, Janiece Zahrt, would have been found out in the driveway with her Ford Escape backed up to a nearby hill. That way she could drag her kayak across the grass and flip it vertically to prop it against the tailgate. Then, circling back to the end on the ground, she could, by herself, slide the watercraft onto the u-shaped rack on top of her vehicle. At two points–one in the front and one in the rear–she would attach a tie-down on the right side of the rack and fling the extra rope over the top. On the other side, she would secure each tie-down as tightly as she could. They would need to be snug. It would be a two and a half-hour drive from my hometown of Fremont (northeast of Muskegon) to Suttons Bay (straight north of Traverse City).

On that morning, canoe and kayak enthusiasts from all over Michigan and from around the nation did the exact same thing. Why? “After falling just shy last year,” the Organizers of the Suttons Bay Floatilla 2013 were making their second consecutive attempt “to break the Guinness world record for the largest raft of canoes and kayaks ever to float together” (Ellison, September 1, 2013, Mlive.com).

You might be thinking, “So, what? Making an attempt at a Guinness World Record is not such a big, big thing. People try it all the time. The State of Michigan probably has hoards of them.” Well, I checked. The State of Michigan has four Guinness World Records:

  1. The largest ball of cling film/plastic wrap (Bay City)
  2. The largest working rifle (Ishpeming)
  3. The tallest dog ever (Otsego)
  4. The tallest dog living (Otsego)

Then I was thinking, “Wow. I thought for sure Michigan would have more than that. We better get another one.”

Just recently, on November 20, 2013, Guinness formally announced that it was official. On that Saturday morning, 2,099 canoe and kayak enthusiasts, including my mother, got out their floats and slaughtered the previous record held by Fourth Lake in New York by 197 boats. (Fenton, November 20, 2013, Mlive.com) That makes five. That is a big, big thing.

Proud of you, Mom (pictured below). She is never going to email me a photo again. Maybe I won’t tell her about this…

Floatilla 2


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