8 thoughts on “Kayaking Tips and Tricks

  1. David Wells

    The History of Kayaking

    1000-1900 — The first kayaks were fashioned out of driftwood and animal skins by the natives of the arctic regions of Asia, North America, and Greenland. These long, narrow, covered boats were ideally suited for hunting seals and walruses across the frigid arctic waters. In fact, the name kayak means “hunter’s boat.”

    1905 — A German student borrows an Inuit design to build a collapsible kayak. A tailor named Hans Klepper soon buys the patient from him and launches a business selling these kayaks, which he refers to as “foldboats.” The advantage of this design is that boaters can carry these wood and canvas boats in canvas bags and then assemble them quickly on the shore of a river. These were the ancestors of the modern folding kayaks of today.

    1931 — A Vienesse kayaker by the name of Adolf Anderle is the first person to successfully negotiate the Salzachofen Gorge on the Salzach River. His successful run of this dangerous river raised whitewater standards in Europe and elsewhere. A short time later, kayaking organizations developed the Internatinal Scale of River Difficulty, a standard that is still in use today to classify the difficulty of river rapids.

    1936 — In time, the Europeans fell in love with these new covered boats, all but abandondoning the large, open boats that they’d previously used for river navigation. Kayaking clubs bagan to spring up in Germany and France. Whitewater competitions followed shortly thereafter. In 1936, “flatwater” racing became an Olympic sport in the Summer Games in Berlin, Germany (the very same Olympics in which Jessie Owens made a mockery of Hitler’s “Master Race” theory).

    1928 — True story: on August 1 of this year, Captain Fran Romer is discovered asleep in his kayak in the harbor at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. So what’s the big deal, you ask? Well it seems that Captain Romer had just sailed and paddled his kayak almost 4000 miles, all the way from Lisbon, Portgual. And he survived not one but two hurricanes along the way!

    1938 — Genevieve De Colmont becomes the first women to pilot a kayak through the rapids of the Colorado and Green Rivers. Along with her husband Bernard and a friend, Genevieve proved that kayaks were far better suited to running wild water than the heavy wooden boats favored by outdoorsmen and explorers at the time.

    1975 — Three men: Tom McEwan, Wick Walker, and Dan Schnurenburger kayak the Great Falls of the Potomac River. This was a stretch of wild water that had been feared and avoided by boaters for centuries. In the years following their historic run, all three paddlers have refused to reveal who was the first man over the Spout, the deadliest drop in the churning Great Falls rapids.

    1977 — Three more kayakers make history this year. Jim Snyder, Mike Fentress, and Phil Coleman become the first paddlers to successfully negotiate the notorious Quarry Run, a tributary of the Cheat River in West Virginia. After one especially brutal drop, Coleman nearly died when his slalom kayak became lodged in the river’s gravel bottom. Today, paddlers who descend Quarry Run use inflatable boats that won’t spear the river bottom.

    1994 — Another first. Kent Wiggington becomes the first paddler to tame the Class VI rapids of the Tallulah River in northern Georgia. Wiggington’s successful run helped to publicize a government decision to provide more recreational opportunities on the river by releasing water from an upriver dam.

    I’m sure there’s much we’ve left out here. Who knows, maybe you’re out there making your own kayaking history right now!

    *The Kayaking Journal

  2. Glenn Williams

    Emptying a swamped boat

    Once you’ve had the unfortunate experience of bailing out from a capsized kayak, your next task will be getting that water out of your swamped boat. If you’re whitewater kayaking and you can get the boat out of the water, you can achieve this one of two ways.

    If you’re alone, flip the kayak upside down and lift up on one end. Then use a seasawing motion to drain the excess water out of the cockpit. If you’ve got a partner, you can perform the same operation, this time with one person holding each end of the boat and seasawing up and down. Any remaining water can be pumped or sponged out.

    *The Kayaking Journal

  3. Michael Pardy

    How to Stop Blisters While Kayaking

    Kayakers need to know how to treat blisters and, more importantly, how to prevent them. Blisters are common on the thumbs and pads of the fingers where the paddle rubs against the skin. Water softens hands, and sand gets caught in these areas making the friction worse. Friction and pressure with the kayak and excessive moisture from sweat and damp clothing can also cause blisters on the lower back, armpits, hips, bum, knees and heels. If improperly treated, these blisters can become a serious, potentially trip-ending problem.

    Reduce friction
    The key to preventing blisters is to reduce friction and pressure. First of all, use proper technique when paddling. Hold the paddle loosely in both hands—enlarging the shaft diameter with a fingerboard may encourage a looser grip. Trim and smooth any rough edges on the paddle shaft, and also consider applying a smooth surface such as cork or shrink-wrap to your paddle shaft.

    Develop and maintain tougher skin by training regularly to build calluses. Or, rub your palms with rubbing alcohol or Tough Skin regularly prior to the start of your trip.
    If you are prone to blisters, consider pre-bandaging common hotspots with a Spenco Skin Care Pad, Dura Gel or other durable medical gel pad…and the every famous Duct Tape works well too.

    Well-designed equipment also helps reduce friction. Make sure your clothing and equipment fit well, minimizing ridges, seams, and zippers along areas of friction and pressure like the back, armpits, hips and butt.

    Keep warm and dry
    Moisture contributes to blisters by softening your skin and increasing friction. To keep moisture away from your skin, wear proper layers of technical clothing. If you wear a wetsuit for long periods, wash and dry the underlying skin regularly and try to rinse and dry the wetsuit every few days.

    Wear proper-fitting gloves or pogies to help keep hands warm and dry (or at least not soaking wet). Gloves should fit snugly and not have any seams along areas of friction and pressure.

    Dry your hands and body thoroughly at rest stops, lunch and especially at night. Consider using talcum powder, cornstarch, or antiperspirant in armpits and groin to reduce moisture buildup.

  4. Jakob Jelling

    Forward paddling seems easy, but there is room for improvement.

    Forward paddling is probably the most under-appreciated and under-practiced kayaking move. However, as you might imagine, this is the most important move that you can learn. Depending on where you’re going to be kayaking, and how long of a kayak tour you intend to go on, good forward paddling may end up saving you a lot of time, effort, and muscle strain.

    The most important thing to remember about your forward paddling, however is that you should only work on improving it if you feel that you can’t do everything that you want to be able to do while you’re in your kayak.

    First, you should make sure that you have good posture in your kayak. It’s important that you sit up in your kayak instead of leaning back. This way, you’ll be able to make all of your paddling strokes as powerful as possible. You should also make sure that your feet are right up against the footrest inside of your kayak. That way you’ll have a more powerful stroke than you would otherwise.

    Next, you should pay attention to where the paddle goes into the water. It should enter near where your feet are in the kayak. You don’t have to be completely precise, however, as it is sometimes hard to figure out exactly where you want the paddle to enter the water – and you will lose power if you spend too much time second-guessing your strokes.

    You should work on relaxing your grip on the kayak paddle, as well, as this will make it easier for you to sustain your paddling pace – and can prevent injuries.

    If you follow this advice, and work on strengthening the parts of your body that get tired fastest, then you’ll find that your forward paddling improves.

  5. Kristen Wells

    What is Kayaking?

    Kayaking has become one of the fastest growing adventure sports in the country. Kayaking is an incredibly diverse sport that appeals to individuals with a wide range of interests and abilities.

    The three main types of kayaking are recreational paddling, touring/sea kayaking and whitewater kayaking.

    Recreational Kayaking is ideal for individuals looking for a low impact recreational experience that can be done on ponds, lakes and slow moving rivers. This type is mostly used in the Sarasota/Anna Maria, Florida area.

    Touring/Sea Kayaking is an activity for individuals that live near an ocean or a larger body of water. Touring boats are longer, faster and designed to travel greater distances.

    Whitewater Kayaking is a great activity for individuals interested in paddling rivers. Whitewater paddling offers a tremendous variety of recreational experiences ranging from scenic paddles to raging whitewater. Most whitewater paddlers fall in the middle, kayaking for a mixture of scenery, exercise, and adventure.

    Kayaking Myths:
    “Kayaking is an extreme sport.” Kayaking like all adventure sports has inherent risks. However with education and instruction you can learn to be safe and proficient on the water. The majority of paddlers choose the lower impact recreational levels of the sport.

    “Kayaking is only for young people.” Kayaking can be a low impact sport requiring less physical strength than most other outdoor sports, such as biking, hiking or skiing.

    “Kayaking is too expensive.” Most people can get outfitted in a complete set up head to toe somewhere between $799 and $1600. Price variations are due to the type of clothing required for your region and the type of kayak you are purchasing. Used equipment is also available through many of the local touring companies, including Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures (www.kayakfl.com).

    How do I get Started?
    Step 1: Kayaking requires a basic foundation of skills in order to be safe and proficient. By taking an introductory workshop or a guided tour you can expedite your learning curve and acquire information and skills that might otherwise takes months even years to attain.

    Step 2: Decide what type of kayaking appeals to your goals and interests.
    Be sure to talk with your instructors/guides, they are a knowledgeable resource that can help you identify the proper type of kayaking that is right for you.

    Step 3: Start acquiring the necessary clothing and equipment.
    It is recommended to try before you buy. Technology over the last few years has really changed the direction of the sport. Today’s kayaks are more comfortable, more stable, and much easier to learn in.

    Step 4: Join a local paddle club!
    Most communities located near a large body of water or runnable river have a canoe or kayak club. Paddle clubs are a great avenue to network with other paddlers and get information on local runs and paddling locations.

    Step 5: Be smart when you are picking your paddling partners. Choose paddlers that are either similar in ability or willing to paddle at your level and pace.

  6. Doug Myers

    Kayak Fishing is the fastest growing sector in the sport of kayaking. It has been known for decades that the Kayak can be a very efficient way to travel.

    It wasn’t until the more recent birth of the Recreational Kayak that kayak fishing launched to the forefront of the growing kayak industry.

    Recreational Kayaks are stable, easy to paddle, inexpensive and accessible to about anyone. With characteristics like this it wasn’t long before dedicated fisherman discovered the benefits of this type of travel. For example in Florida, many of the coastal areas are two shallow for the typical motorized boat.

    However these waters are famous for exciting sport fishing. Snook, Redfish, Sea Trout, and Tarpon are just a few of the species that have proven the kayak to be an exceptional and unique fishing craft. But don’t be fooled but thinking this only a coastal thing.

    Kayak fishing has been growing in all regions from the Midwest to the high lakes of the Rocky Mountains.

    Fishing Kayaks come in two basic styles:
    The Sit-On-Top, which refers to the hull design that features a molded deck that you sit-on-top of. This design has the advantage of being exceptionally stable and easy to maneuver. This type is also self draining and easier to fish from since you don’t have to keep raising your arms to cast.

    The Sit-In or Enclosed Kayak: This is the more traditional style of kayak in which you sit inside of the kayak. Typically use a spray skirt to keep water from splashing over the sidewall and into the cockpit area (mostly in cold climate areas). The advantages of this design are hull speed and paddling performance, as well as the comfort of sitting inside a dry protected shell.

    Regardless of the style both are capable of adding numerous kayak accessories including, rod holders, GPS mounts, anchor systems and numerous other accessories. The advantage of a sit-on-top kayak is that many models have flat deck areas specifically designed for attaching accessories.

    Some designs even have areas for live bait storage containers.

    When choosing a kayak you must first decide where you are going to be fishing, the types of water, and how far you must paddle to get to where the fish are.

    Longer boats typically are significantly faster, a bit less stable, and less maneuverable.

    Short Boats are more stable, more maneuverable and slower. Most people settle somewhere in the middle with a boat in the 12 -14 foot range.

  7. Tish goodale

    I am interested in getting a kayak and getting out on the water. I don’t have anyone to paddle with and am looking for a group of “seniors” who would like to get out together on the water. Is there a group like this? Thanks

  8. Steve Gibson

    Kayak fishing is fun and fairly easy. All you need is a kayak and the desire to catch fish.
    The biggest problem is managing the kayak while fishing. Just remember that when you get to your spot that you must STOP your kayak. To do so, simply backpaddle until your boat is sitting still.
    Also, you’ll probably want the bow of your kayak pointing in the direction that you’re fishing. The bow will tend to move in the wind, but I can turn it to the direction I want by simply dipping a paddle blade and turning it in the proper direction.
    The best fishing kayaks in my opinion are by Native Watercraft. My fleet consists of Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5s. They’re roomy, track straight, easy to paddle and you can stand up in them.

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