We all like to do different things, we even like to change up what we have been doing…everybody likes variety. Kayaking gives you lots of different options when it comes to paddling and surroundings.
In this article I would like to talk about several types of paddling and kayaks. I would like to make an exception and not talk about white water kayaking. This is outside my area of knowledge and it is a radically different sport.
Let’s talk about different types of paddling and the kayak suited for it.
- Lake/River Paddling: Just out to cruise your local lake for fun and a little exercise? Then a small 11-14 foot kayak is for you. There are several manufacturers who produce some very nice, low cost boats in this category.
These kayaks are designed to get you on the water and give you some paddling fun. These boats are not designed for distance paddles and are purely recreational. They are made from a variety of materials with the low end boats being made from molded plastic.
These boats can also be used on slow moving rivers where you don’t have rapids. Be aware that you may not be able to paddle back up stream… it all depends on the flow rate.
- Sea Kayaking: Are you interested in paddling on Puget Sound or other large bodies of water for day trips? You’ll need a bigger boat for that. Boat length is driven by the size of the paddler, but generally speaking a good day tripper is a 14’ plus boat with some enclosed compartments for storage.
I would also recommend a closed cockpit with a spray skirt in case of wave action. This can also be an important feature on some lakes where you have a large number of power boats. The closed compartments allow you to bring a lunch or snack and extra clothes or other gear. Day paddles are generally 3-5 hours in length, depending on how far you want to go.
When I day paddle I generally plan a 2 hour (about 6 miles) out bound leg and then the return. It’s a great way to explore the coast lines and see all the sights you have been missing. You will be surprised about all the new things you’ll discover about your neighborhood! Day trips are great fun with family and/or with friends.
- Overnight trips. You will be surprised at how much you can pack into a kayak. I have led trips that have lasted as long as 12 days without any stops to replenish, except for water.
It takes some planning to make that work out but it is easily doable. If you enjoy camping this is a great way to combine those two activities. It is a way to get away from the crowds of people that you find in campgrounds. Paddling in the San Juan Islands, Gulf Islands, or other paddling destinations, we are often the only ones at the designated camping sites.
Kayaks used for overnight trips are usually 16’+ and have enclosed water tight compartments for storage. A word about doubles is in order. While most kayaks are designed to be a one person boat, there are also doubles and a few triple models on the market. Doubles, also known affectionately as “divorce boats,” allow husband/wife/partner/significant other to paddle together. There are some advantages to this arrangement such as storage since these boats tend to be bigger and more stable. You have two people paddling so they can be faster. The divorce boat term comes from the fact that only one person steers the boat but you have to paddle as a team. Triples are just that, a kayak that holds 3 paddlers. They are not common boats. We will explore overnight trips and the planning required in future blogs.
See you on the water!