We at The Northwest Passage love kayaks, specifically sea kayaks, for a lot of reasons. Chief among them is that they’re for just about everyone. Whether young or old, gym rat or couch potato, even swimmer or non-swimmer, kayaks are for you.
“Kayak” is a broad term that encompasses many different styles of boats that are best suited for a variety of purposes. The most ubiquitous style of kayak is the “recreational” variety: a short, wide, mostly flat-bottomed boat that should only be paddled in very calm water.
Sea kayaks, by comparison, are longer, narrower, have a more rounded bottom contour and a smaller cockpit opening. All of these features help make sea kayaks faster, more responsive, more seaworthy, and easier to paddle for distance than recreational boats. Switching from a recreational kayak to a sea kayak is like changing out of house slippers and putting on hiking boots.
If someone is nervous about being on the water in a sea kayak, they usually think that they’re going to tip over, not be comfortable in the seat or that it’s going to be really hard to paddle.
But really, sea kayaking is like riding a bike. When you’re learning for the first time it takes a little getting used to, but finding your balance quickly becomes second nature. And while kayaking is undoubtedly a sport, it’s more of a technique sport than a strength sport. The goal is always to paddle smarter, not harder. A few helpful tips from a guide or instructor can really accelerate the learning process.
As for comfort, truthfully, not every seat will feel like an easy chair when you first sit down. However, any experienced guide can make a few simple adjustments that will set you up for hours of comfortable paddling. Little things like making sure your feet are properly braced against foot pegs or quickly fastening bits of padding to key areas can make all the difference in the world.
Paddling sea kayaks certainly requires physical effort, but most first-time kayakers are surprised at just how far you can comfortably travel. And since it’s a low impact sport, beginners can travel surprisingly long distances without feeling aches in their muscles and joints like they would after a run or long hike.
If you’re a little nervous, a good strategy to ensure that you have a positive experience is to partner up with a more experienced paddler in a tandem kayak. Tandems (or double) kayaks are generally more stable and faster than singles. Many people prefer to only paddle single kayaks, but doubles are great for stretching the “comfort zone”. If the distance seems a little long for your taste or if the water is rougher than your perceived limit, teaming up in a double will open adventure doors that would have otherwise remained closed.
If you’ve never paddled a sea kayak before, I highly recommend that you give it a try. Adventures on the water are extra special, especially when kayaking. You can go so many places that other boats can’t. Being able to land your boat on any beach or river bank of your choosing is an awesome freedom. And since sea kayaks are accommodating of nearly any age and experience level, you can make amazing adventure memories with just about any friend or family member.
Sea kayaking fun is for everyone!