Kayaking is more than a means of transportation or a form of exercise. It is an adventure that requires careful planning and preparation. Beginning kayakers should take lessons from an expert kayaker. These should include paddling techniques, rescue and survival skills, reading nautical charts and tide tables, use of safety equipment, boat repair and understanding wind, waves, tides and weather. Short three day trips with experienced kayakers can be as beneficial as formal lessons. However, it is essential to practice kayaking techniques in sheltered coves, shallow takes or swimming pools before venturing out into bays or sounds and more potentially dangerous coastal areas. For optimum safety, kayakers should paddle in groups of no less than three boats, whether it’s a single or double kayak.
WHERE TO GO?
There are a multitude of places to kayak along the Pacific Coast. Desirable locations include the Baja Peninsula, Santa Catalina Island, San Juan Islands, the Canadian Gulf Islands in British Columbia and in Alaska. Check with local experts to find other desirable locations.
Food, clothing, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and camping gear needs are dependent upon the trip location, climate and time of year, and personal choice. For example, in Southeast Alaska you will probably need heavy duty rain gear and polyfill sleeping bags, as it is generally cool and very rainy. Wool and polyfill provide warmth even when wet. Down does not. It’s best to cook on a stove because of the rain and lack of dry wood and use fresh foods instead of freeze dried. Special precautions must be made when kayak camping in areas heavily populated by bears. .
The choice of a single or a double kayak is a personal one. Where you paddle and who you paddle with will help determine whether you use a single or double boat. There are a multitude of kayak styles and sizes on the market of either solid hull (usually fiberglass) or folding design. Experience using a variety of styles and sizes of kayaks is the only way to determine which boat is right for you. Your local sporting goods store or marine supply can assist you with lessons, kayaks and kayak camping gear.
Unlike many outdoor activities, kayaking should never be taken lightly. Paddlers must always be prepared for any kind of weather or emergency. You should also always be totally self-sufficient. This means not only having the proper equipment, but also being in good physical condition and having a positive mental attitude.
A general program of physical conditioning, cardiovascular training and strength development should be maintained. Regular bicycling, jogging, swimming, aerobic exercises or working out on a rowing machine will build the strength and endurance necessary for long-distance kayaking.