Outdoor Activities

How to Get Interested in Kayaking

Welcome to ActiveLifestylesNW Kayaking Column – Let’s Get Started!
Chuck Hemphill
We have all seen kayakers on rivers, lakes and on the ocean… quietly gliding along the water enjoying the scenery and weather.  How many times have you thought it might be fun to kayak but really didn’t have a notion of how to get started?
Well, I would like to invite you to join us here at to learn more about the nuts ‘n bolts, aesthetics and adventure opportunities of kayaking in our excellent boating region. In upcoming columns I will share information about how I got started in kayaking, suggestions for newcomers as well as all sorts of details about this wonderful activity. I also want to invite you to send me questions and suggestions for columns and discussions.
The purpose of this first column is to provide you with information about kayaking so you can decide if you really want to do this.
First, a little background…  I have been a sea kayaker since 1998.  With a group of friends I have enjoyed regular kayak outings, exploring Puget Sound, the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and the coastal waters of Vancouver Island.
I have lived in the Northwest since 1975. I am an outdoor guy who enjoys the great scenery and the variety of activities that are available to us here.  I was an avid skier and a volunteer ski patroller at a ski area in the Northwest. The opportunity finally came when my then wife, who was recovering from a back injury, suggested we try canoeing or kayaking as a form of exercise. Her interest gave me the push to do some research and find out more about how to get started.
It turned out one of my co-workers had a Coleman canoe for sale so I jumped on the chance to purchase it.  Unfortunately, it was late fall so I stored the canoe with my camping trailer and waited for spring to arrive.  What came first, however, was the Puget Sound Inaugural Day windstorm which brought down a huge pine tree crushing my trailer, canoe, and my initial hopes of going boating.  Back to the drawing board!
Once I recycled the canoe, I started looking at canoes and kayaks at REI and reading through some magazines.  This of course raised more questions that we had to answer.  The first was what did we want to do?
That seems pretty straight forward but we quickly learned that there were a several questions we had to consider.

  1. Did we want to just paddle on a lake?
  2. Did we want to do day trips on Puget Sound?
  3. Did we want to do camping trips?
  4. Did we want to paddle rivers?

Please think about these questions. Talk them over with your partner. Then, get ready for a great ride!
In an upcoming column, I will share how we answered the questions and took the next step on our kayaking journey.
What kind of kayaking attracts you?
See you on the water!