There’s as many types of kayaks as there are types of people. There’s kayaks built for white water and wilderness adventures. Some are built for racing competitions or designed for fishing. Others are made for those who prefer camping trips or ocean kayaking. Paddlers can choose among sit-on-top kayaks or choose to sit in open or closed cockpits; They can paddle in tandem, or they can maneuver a craft built for one. Kayaking is a versatile sport.

One of the most popular forms of kayaking is recreational paddling. Boats designed for this purpose, are usually shorter in length and have a larger cockpit. They have a wider beam and are usually less than 12 feet long. They’re designed for calmer waters and for daytime or evening paddling. They’re the best way for paddlers to explore creeks and rivers and to watch nature unfold around them. What better way to enjoy the peacefulness of a spring day than to hear only the swish of paddles and swans honking overhead. Paddlers can watch a great blue heron wading along a riverbank or spot an egret darting for a fish. They can observe a bald eagle perched on an oak limb, or look up to see ospreys sitting on their nests.

Benefits of Recreational Kayaking

Without dealing with noisy motors that pollute the water, or expensive sailboats, which involve lots of work, kayakers can practically sit in the water and glide through shallow streams or deep rivers.

While they are paddling, they’re also getting a good work-out, especially if they’re going against the current or paddling through waves. They’re also getting a good bit of fun for their money. Without fuel, costly upkeep or major storage issues, there’s no cheaper way to get out onto the water.

Kayakers only need a good vehicle to transport their boat, which is usually easy to carry, and a few basic items, such as paddles, running lights, and bilge pumps, to outfit it. Kayaks are durable and cost only a fraction of what other boats do. Make sure to buy a permit if one is required, for using a public ramp.

It’s easy for kayakers to paddle through pristine creeks and tributaries without leaving a human footprint. There’s no gas or oil spills and the air stays pure and unsullied, Paddlers are usually nature lovers who are careful not to strew litter or garbage around. They also don’t disturb wildlife with the roar of motors.

Certified Kayaking Instruction

One should never get in a kayak without receiving some solid instruction. Though it’s a simple sport, recreational kayaking can be dangerous. It’s vital to learn the basic paddling strokes, how to enter and exit a kayak and how to launch one. Paddlers also need to be familiar with wet exits, how to handle unstable craft and how to do self and assisted rescues.Most importantly, kayakers should always wear a personal flotatation device with an attached whistle.

Beginners’ classes and certified instructors can be found by searching the internet, through kayak outfitters and by referrals from kayak dealers.

Always check the weather and never go out when there are small craft warnings. Make sure to check for sudden squalls and look for safe shelter if a storm is imminent.During fall and spring, be aware of the risks of hypothermia, which can kill a capsized kayaker in minutes. In summer be aware of hyperthermia –when the body gets overheated. Learn first-aid and CPR.

Go out in groups if possible. If going out alone, give someone your itinerary and location. Watch for boat traffic, which can cause lots of wake. Stay out of larger bodies of water when windy conditions are prevalent. Be familiar with your route and bring a chart map or GPS. Check the times of high and low tides if kayaking in tidal waters. Most of all, enjoy the day.

Kayaking Necessities

  • Plenty of water and food
  • A cell phone in a waterproof bag and/ or a marine radio
  • A change of clothes
  • Sun screen and bug spray
  • A sun visor or cap
  • A flashlight and/or a headband with an attached light –especially for evening excursions
  • A storage container or stocked cooler
  • A first aid kit and any necessary medications