Rivers, Lakes, Coast, Mountains, wild life, bird life, fishing, sailing – experience the great outdoors. All these can be seen and enjoyed from a kayak. Take along a camera to capture unforgettable moments.
Kayaking is fun, and it’s exercise too. Sometimes dangerous, (don’t try whitewater until you have some experience), often exhilarating and there is always something to strive for. The Eskimo roll for instance, is how you right yourself when you find yourself upside down in the water while still in your kayak.
The origin of kayaks is with the Eskimos. They used them for hunting walrus and seals in the coastal waters of the Arctic. You can imagine how very cold that was. Their kayaks were made of sea lion or seal hide sewn over a frame of wood. A hunter sat facing forward on the floor of the kayak, and a watertight ‘skirt’ was constructed around the body which sealed him in (is that where our word ‘seal’ came from?). This was very necessary as he had to be able to get back to shore. You don’t survive easily when you’re stranded in Arctic waters.
“Can anyone paddle a kayak?” you ask. Anyone can start to paddle a kayak. Take it slow. Start on still water on inland lakes. Wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device – like a life jacket), and get one your size. Take along a cell phone and a compass. Oh, and insect repellent!
“Where do I start?” you ask.
Actually, two places. The first is to decide where you want to go. Phone up your local authority and find out where the nearest popular place for still water is. Ask what rules and regulations apply to kayaking there. (Usually you do not need a licence or certificate.) Check where you can launch your kayak from – there should be some spots where it’s possible to go down to the waters edge and launch, without joining a club.
The second step is to decide what type of kayak to buy. There is such a wide choice today. Perhaps, as it’s a first, start at the inflatable kayak level. Inflatables weigh very little, so they are easy to transport. If you are conscious of being environmentally friendly – deflated – they may be transported by bicycle. They also very easily fit into a car boot or a roof-pod, widening your choice of destinations, since you will be able to go places which might be difficult if your car was pulling a trailer. And, if you really don’t want to splurge a lot of money on a sport you’re only just trying out, then here are two suggestions.
For under $100, the solo K1 Challenger by Intex, weighs in at 27 ¾ lbs.
For 2 people, at under $120, there is the Challenger K2, 40lbs, by Intex or the Sevylor Tahiti Classic, 25lbs.
Some points to note:
1. The oars don’t necessarily come with the kayak. They usuall need to be bought separately.
2. If you’re going into out-of-the-usual places, pack a picnic and check the weather report.
3. Check out the pump which comes with inflatables. Some of them are said to take a while to do their work. Customer comments give a good idea of the pros and cons of some deals.