Hidden Treasure on the Great Lakes: Finding a Forever Kayak

May 12, 2023

Eddyline paddler Robyn Durlin tells us about why she chose Eddyline Kayaks and how she was able to mix her passion for paddling with her passion for beachcombing and making jewelry out of her finds.
Hidden Treasure on the Great Lakes: Finding a Forever Kayak

Imagine following the shoreline of an enormous lake, with wide open views and beautiful pebble beaches, with multicolor stones. Overflowing with beautiful bays, alcoves, and an abundance of wildlife, we caught up with Eddyline paddler Robyn Peterson Durlin of Northeast Ohio to talk about her adventures kayaking Lake Erie and how she’s been able to combine her passion for paddling with another passion of hers. Her boat of choice? The 50th anniversary  Sitka LT in purple and silver, a throwback to original Eddyline color swatches from 1971 when the company was founded.

KM: What Eddyline kayak do you have? Why did you pick that kayak?
Robyn: I have the  Sitka LT in the 50th Anniversary Purple/Silver. I looked into longer “sea” kayaks with sealed bulkheads after a few sketchy situations paddling on Lake Erie in my beginner recreational kayak a few years ago. I did a ton of research keeping in mind a few factors like: seaworthiness, length, weight (most important), good bulkhead storage, maneuverability, having a skeg/rudder, material, etc. I originally had the blue Sitka LT in my research spreadsheet (blue is kind of my thing) and was hesitant about spending the money (especially since I couldn’t try one out due to covid protocols), but once I saw the 50th Anniversary Purple I knew that was the one. I consider this my “forever” kayak; it’s going to last me on many adventures over many years, but it won’t be my last Eddyline for sure!

K: Tell me about why you chose purple?
R: As a graphic/web designer, color is very important to me. If a product is offered in blue or purple, I am going to choose those options every time. I’m honored to be among those with a 50th Anniversary Purple Sitka, literally everything else I have is blue, but I really can’t get over how beautiful that purple is! 

K: What do you love about your kayak?
R:The Sitka is versatile and can do everything I want it to do. It’s great at handling minor waves since Lake Erie can act like an ocean at times. It’s wicked fast on flat water. It’s even great for river float days since the seat is so comfortable! I really love the way that the LT fits me even though I’m on the cusp fit-wise between the ST and LT. The day hatch is ultimately why I chose the LT over the ST. It’s super convenient to have a place to store my phone, gloves, and sunglasses. I also love how it’s lightweight enough that I can transport it completely by myself, including carrying it on my shoulder, carting it and car topping it on my roof rack.  

K: How long have you had it?
R:I ordered it sight unseen from REI in February 2021, brought it home in the middle of winter and couldn’t even try it out until part of the nearby lake thawed. I was so excited to paddle it once I got it home that I just kept going back and forth in the unfrozen part of the lake to get a feel for it!

K: What’s your dream kayak destination?
R: Pretty much anywhere that is beautiful and peaceful! I would love to paddle somewhere tropical (on calmer water), especially if you can see awesome wildlife! Maine always has a special place in my heart, I would love to bring it home with me and explore more of the Maine Island Trail. 

K:Tell me about the upcycled jewelry you make?
R: NARFdesign stands for “Nearly All Robyn’s Fantastic” design. I kayak to remote beaches along the shores of Lake Erie in search of perfectly rounded pieces of beach glass, which I then either drill or bezel set in sterling silver to create my jewelry designs. The sea/beach glass that I use comes from glass that has been discarded in the ocean/lake environment (when that was considered acceptable) and tumbled over many years to form a frosted surface with no sharp edges. Given the history of the different colors and uses of glass, there is a thrill of the hunt of looking for pieces as you never know what you will find, and I let each piece I find speak to me as to what I will make with it. Having grown up near the coast of Maine, much of the creative inspiration for my jewelry designs comes from my love of the ocean and the beach. I created the original kayak design setting in 2017 (just a year after I started kayaking!) when I was first learning how to do silversmithing and wanting to push myself to create something original. The body of the kayak design is made out of sterling silver wire and sheet using traditional silversmithing methods, and all the beach glass I use is personally found by myself, my husband, or one of my friends. 

K: As a beachcomber and kayaker, what does stewardship mean to you?
R: Cleaning up trash on the beach is so important, especially on beaches where you can’t easily go and do organized cleanups. I can’t believe the types of trash that I see wash up: tires, old pipes, bits of copper, tampon applicators, cigar tips, Styrofoam, litter from boaters, straws, etc. A number of us in the beachcombing community like to say “Trash before treasure” when we’re out there looking for sea/beach glass, and I try to bring back trash to dispose of properly every time I go out. I like to think of it as “leaving the beach better than I found it” with the Leave No Trace principles of packing out more than I arrived with. In a small effort to prevent contributing to the greater trash problem with the business, I use recycled paper and compostable mailers and compostable shipping labels when shipping out orders, and I have partnered with One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every product sold. 

Follow Robyn’s adventures at@narfdesignon Instagram.