A pristine bay flanked by moss-covered cliffs. A bright sun reflected off smooth-as-glass water. Salt spray in your nostrils. A pod of Orcas swimming nearby…
Sea kayaking conjures up all kinds of wonderful images. And none of them can capture the experience of actually being out on the water in a solid boat with your spouse or a group of good friends at your side.
A sea kayak is a wonderfully nimble and seaworthy craft capable of taking you places that larger boats wouldn’t even attempt. Multi Day touring models can store enough food and other gear for extended voyages, while day touring models are better equipped for weekend excursions and day trips.
As with any backcountry activity, there are risks involved in sea kayaking. But don’t let that scare you away from trying this wonderful sport. Training, preparation, good judgement and having the right equipment are the best weapons against a difficult situation on the water.
If you train for every possible scenario, prepare by bringing the right equipment, and keep your head, then you should have a great time and return fresh and ready to go out on the water the next day.
If you’re new to paddling–or you’ve been away for awhile– then you should probably sign up for lessons with a qualified instructor.
Look for one who’s certified by the American Canoe Association or the Canadian Recreational Canoe and Kayak Association. Find a local paddling club in your area–these are usually great resources and many have certified instructors within their ranks. Taking a guided trip is another option, as many of these include basic paddling instruction and equipment rental as part of the package.
If you’re a more experienced paddler who’s looking to go out on your own, you still might want to take a refresher course or at least go out on a calm day and practice your roll and bracing skills before you venture out to sea. You may also need a good outfitter in the area you’ll be visiting. And you’ll need to get as much background information as possible on the area you’ll be exploring. The best trips have a float plan that takes into account changing weather and sea conditions, shipping routes through the area, safe landing spots, local agencies to contact in an emergency, etc.
Have The Right Boat And Gear
Sea kayaks are distinguished from their whitewater cousins by a multitude of features that can be best described in one word: seaworthiness. Not only must a sea kayak have ability to roll as easily as a whitewater boat, it must also be able to ride through and over waves of all sizes, have enough storage space for a lot more gear, be able to track dependably in a variety of adverse conditions, and stand up to the punishing effects of weather, wave action, rocky beaches, and even large inquisitive fish.
The of course you need to have the proper gear like a rudder, bilge pump, flotation, dry bags, safety kit, compass and GPS unit, drysuit and other clothing, and more. Choose the right gear and you set yourself up for a fun and memorable trip. Choose the wrong gear and you could be miserable–or worse yet, in trouble on the water. So get as much information as you can about the type of gear you’ll need for the type of trip you’ll be taking. You’ll be glad you did.
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