Sea kayaking is a fantastic sport and comes with lots of excitement for those who participate. It is an excellent way to travel to new places. It is an ocean version of backpacking but with a different feeling of immersion with nature. With a kayak you don’t just paddle through the water. You become part of the water. It doesn’t matter if it is your way to do wildlife tours, multiday or multi-month expedition, sea kayaks provide a thrilling experience for everyone who is an adventure seeker.
If you are looking for a new way to catch fun and explore the wilderness, here is a way to get started with sea kayaking.
A bit of a history
Kayaks were first invented by a group called the Inuit. This invention was made about 4000 years ago. They used the kayaks to go fishing and hunting, especially in the sub-arctic waters. They do this by making the skin on frame kayaks. In essence they have made a bone frame over which they put over sealskin. The same material was used to make their spray skirts and their jackets making them pretty much waterproof. In this way, the hunters will roll back upright after they capsize without leaving the boat.
An interesting fact is that most Inuit didn’t know how to swim. Sub-arctic waters were too cold for that. They only had to roll back in their kayak, which they learned from a young age. That is why we still call the roll in kayak an ‘eskimo roll’. This ability for you to rescue yourself makes anyone be able to kayak in both troubled and cold water, especially in cases where swimming for a long time will be dangerous. Today, spray skirts are made of neoprene, but the effects are still the same.
Sea kayaking is the thrill of the Ocean
A lot of things set kayak apart from other sports. On the one hand you need to master the boat and your paddle. On the other you need to master the landscape and become part of it: from rough dynamic water environments to winds and waves of different strength.
Whichever environment you are in, paddling is done quietly. Your paddle blades enter the water silently propelling you past the paddle with the shape of the kayak that allows it to cut through the water without much difficulty.
The Ocean is filled with wildlife, and this is quite difficult to see from the shore or motorized vessels that sometimes disrupt animals. But during kayaking, you have access to all the wildlife that you could see in the sea.
It is very common to notice Seals, Porpoise, Baskin sharks and gannets in the northern seas. In warm seas, like here in Croatia, we often spot dolphins and sea turtles during kayaking.
Sea kayaking is an opportunity to be surrounded by wildlife. These experiences will leave a lasting impression on you.
How they are designed
Kayaks usually come with one seat or two seats, which are referred to as solo or tandem, respectively. Models that are most durable and least expensive are made up of plastics as they can sustain a rough landing or sharp rocks.
However, a much higher quality kayaks are those made up of fiberglass. Their main advantage is that they are lighter and do not absorb water vibration as much as plastic, making them faster. Fiberglass hulls are quite easy to fracture, although, if you have a small crack, they are also easier to patch than plastic boats. They need proper care when landing and around areas where there are rocks.
Some companies still make wooden kayaks, and they have skin covers still. You could get folding kayaks too; this can pack down nicely for both hiking and kayak experience. They do tend to catch wind more and are more suitable to lakes rather than sea environment.
Another option when considering a kayak is to consider buying a boat with a rudder; this type is controlled by foot pedals or a boat with a skeg. The skeg is a small rudder that can be retracted when the boat is at the shore.
The skeg does not help the paddler steer the kayak, but it helps it stay in a straight line. Boats that have skegs will require expert control because all the changes in direction that you will make will have to be done with the paddle.
Sea kayaking is a sport that everyone will eventually love to be part of. The boats used for kayaking can be used for a casual afternoon paddle on calm waters. It can also be used for week-long expeditions.
A right kayak will have watertight areas that can be used to store items. This is more like a backpack that is built in the boat. This hatch can house a lot of food and can help paddlers take enough for up to a 30-day expedition.