Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kayak paddling- The safety guide

One of the most important things to remember while on the water is Boat safety.
Boats are not listening for you, and cannot always see you.
This means you must, and I mean must be watching and listening for boats at all times while Kayak Paddling. Why is this so vital? It very well could mean your life. For example, you may remember reading my story about going to the lighthouse trails, and on my way to the light house trails I crossed the boat channel. If I was not watching for boats coming, I could have been in grave danger thinking I could paddle faster than the boat coming down the way. The boat- like a train, cannot slam on their brakes for you, in this instance you must be constantly aware of your surroundings while on the water, in your kayak. This would not be a major concern on most recreational river spots and now that kayaking is becoming so popular there are many trails dedicated solely to kayak paddlers. Just as there are sidewalks or special provisions for bikers, the same is true in many areas for those of us who love to kayak. Some have a passion for cars and love to drive fast, get where they are going and look good while getting there. Others prefer a bike for whatever reason, whether it is for saving the environment, saving money on gas and other vehicle expenses, or for the daily exercise. The truth is, it does not matter what you chose as long as you get to where you are going. The same comparison can be made between the Kayak and the boat. The kayak is not for everyone, it is a slower means of getting where you are going, it takes work getting there and the Kayak is certainly not as shinny. But unlike a boat, you do not have to worry about investing thousands and thousands of dollars into buying, and maintaining a boat and Fueling your boat with expensive- toxic gas, and losing out on the pure enjoyment of kayak paddling.
So we have explored one aspect of kayak paddling-boat safety and your role in maintaining the peace while on the water.
Another area of concern is this- proper safety gear while kayak paddling. Especially for beginners! Why is this so important? Think about this, when you watch a baby, and he is just beginning to walk, you will notice he is unsure and unstable while testing out his new walking equipment. As he learns his balancing skills he may fall often bump into things and learn the wisdom of caution.
We can relate the same learning curve to a brand new kayaker. Here you are with new equipment learning a new acquired skill. The first time or two may be a little unbalanced, maybe even flipping your kayak over a time or two. It is very important to be equipped with the proper safety gear such as life jacket, whistle and even a cell phone for those unexpected moments. Whether a skilled kayak paddler, or just a beginner it is always the best to error on the side of caution then to find yourself in a compromising situation that could leave you injured or have a bad taste for the sport of kayak paddling.
So remember to always have fun on the water, and enjoy the beautiful moments in your kayak.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Places, spaces and traces of Kayak Paddling

Kayak paddling takes you places you would never imagine getting to.
I will give you an example from experience.
One day, a friend and I wanted to take the kayaks out. We live on the gulf of Mexico in South Texas and I had heard about a spot called the Lighthouse trails. If you looked at the Lighthouse trails on a map(made by locals for Kayakers) It looks something like a maze.
So, on this day, my friend and I, load up our kayaks and we head to what is locally referred to as the flats, unload the yaks into the water get all our gear ready, drinks, snacks etc. and we're now in the water. As we start paddling across the boat channel we see Dolphins no more then 5ft away from us, it was a crystal blue day with minimal wind, and seeing those Dolphins was by far the best way to start our Kayaking adventure.
So, a short cruise across the channel, and we are now in the trails. As we are paddling our way back through the trails, we are at times in water no deeper then 2 or 3ft. No boats have access to these areas so the fish are sleeping quietly, thinking they are all alone, so as we paddle back there it spooks them and they start jumping out of the water, I kid you not, it looked like the water was boiling from all the ruckus they were making, it was so cool. Also on our adventure back there, we saw birds I had never seen before, and the water was so clear you could see the sandy floor, I lean back in my Kayak and think, yes, this is the life.
Finally we make it through "The trails" and low and behold, there is an old lighthouse I had never noticed from the road before. It was BEAUTIFUL. There were three houses built on stilts around it, and a man came walking out on the enormous deck and asked if he could help us with anything.
After explaining we were just paddling around he told us that a major grocery store chain owned the property, and old lighthouse and he was just the caretaker. So we were on our way.
As I mentioned earlier, these trails were like a maze, so need I say we got a bit lost on our way back. We ended up in some very shallow water that was covered in Oyster Beds, now, something you should know is Oyster Beds are like kryptonite to Kayaks. So we back paddled our way right out of there. As we realize we have now been on the water for nearly 4 hours it was time to rest, we found a nice deep swimming hole, anchored our kayaks, secured our paddles and took some time to enjoy the cool water.
We at this point are now pushing 5 hours of being on the water and are exhausted, and decide to paddle back across the channel, and load up the kayaks into the truck and head home after a refreshing day on the water going to places we had never been, fitting in spaces we had never seen, and leaving our traces on that lovely day, Kayak Paddling through the Lighthouse trails of south Texas!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What Kayak and paddle is right for you?

Welcome to the next aspect of Kayak Paddling. The big question at hand is simple- What Kayak and Paddle is right for you?
It really varies by person. Lot's of factors go into choosing the right kayak.
Some factors that matter- your weight, height and purpose for buying the kayak.
Why are these key factors? Simply put, at the end of the day, you want to have fun. The wrong kayak will make you miserable on the water.
If you go to a sporting goods store, get a sales associate to help you determine what kind of kayak and paddle is right for you. Ask questions, and even sit in a few, getting a good feel for the Kayak of your fancy. As mentioned in my first post, the right paddle can enhance your enjoyment on the water. You can pick up a nice paddle for under $50 but be careful some paddles can reach up to several hundred dollars and as a beginner kayaker, there really is no need to spend that much cash.
After determining the kayak and paddle for you, get online and do a little research for the best price, I can almost guarantee you will find what you are looking for at a fraction of the price the sporting good store is asking. Craigslist is also another excellent resource for buying used. Post an ad requesting to buy a used Kayak, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the cash you will save. When buying A used Kayak, make sure you check for holes, and severe oyster scratches this can effect the way your kayak moves on the water.

Why Is Kayaking for YOU?

The truth is, Kayaks are not for everyone.
This sport takes time and effort. But is so well worth it if you have an appreciation for the water, serenity and ultimate fishing. We'll take this one step at a time. Kayak adventures differ as far as where you live. I am from South Texas and we have tons of cool little back bays to take the Kayak out in. As well as close access to recreation rivers.
The reason it is so much fun down here is because on a Kayak you can paddle to places boats can not get to. You can kayak in areas that are only a foot deep in the water. You can creep back into secluded areas where fish are not expecting you and those fishing holes are virtually untouched. If fishing is not your game, the pure exercise aspect and feelings of peace and serenity on the open water while Kayak Paddling is unreal.
Another highlight of Kayak paddling, is after the initial cost the upkeep is minimal. Unlike a boat that requires constant maintenance and expensive gas, you pick out the Kayak for you, and your ready to hit the water.
If any or all of these examples sound good to you, then Kayak Paddling is for you. My next blog will contain information on where to find the best deals on kayaks, paddles,all accessories, and how to determine if the kayak is right for you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kayak paddling- tools for beginners

There are a few tools Essential for being on the water, such as: Life Jacket and a whistle, these items are required by law. (at least in Texas)
But, there are also a few "fun tools" that make being on the water in your kayak even more enjoyable.
One of my favorite items I keep with me at all times in my kayak is my Olympus stylus tough 8010- Digital camera. This camera is amazing. waterproof up to 33ft, freeze and shockproof, in other words nearly indestructible and perfect for being in your kayak.(As A side note, if you are going to buy this camera, you will want to protect your investment with a silicone casing and floating strap, you can purchase both of these items as a combo, running you no more then $15.00)
Another must have for most, is a simple water proof box that you can clip onto something secure in your Kayak and keep things such as a form of identification, cell phone and maybe even a snack. This waterproof sealed box will not cost you more then $10 and it definitely is a must have.
The essentials list for your kayaking enjoyment can also include things as simple as a lightweight Paddle. This may seem like a small thing, but trust me when I tell you, your arms will thank you! When you spend hours on the water every little convenience helps.
You will also need to determine the right kayak for you. The right Kayak varies by person and will make a huge difference in Kayaking being a true enjoyment. We will get more into this in my next blog and explore the varieties of kayaks and why research is well worth your time when it come's to buying your kayak.

Kayak paddling for Beginners

Welcome to Kayak paddling for beginners. This site provides tips and techniques for beginning Kayaking in order to make the most of your time on the water.
If you have questions not covered in Kayak paddling for beginners please feel free to email your question to kayakpaddlingforbeginners@gmail.com