A Sea Kayak Trip Can Be an Adventure

Most experienced kayakers like to stretch their wings and go on a variety of kayaking trips that test their metal. However, a sea kayak trip is one that is more exciting than most. The adrenalin flows when you get out on the open water and paddle along a coastline. And, a sea kayak will allow you to bring along quite a bit of gear without compromising the gravity of your craft. If you are looking for something different to do and you own a sea kayak, it’s time to plan a sea kayak trip.

The first thing you need to do is decide where you want to go and how long you want your trip to last. Using a map and nautical charts, you can plan a simple day trip or one that lasts an entire week. An average day trip will allow you to cover around 20 miles, paddling at about three miles per hour. That means you can get about seven hours of paddling in while still having time to stop and explore the coastline or have a picnic on the beach. If you want to take a longer trip, you can paddle about 100 miles in a seven day period without tiring yourself out and while still enjoying the coastline and camping overnight.

Because you will be traveling with most of your gear packed and you really don’t want to travel with any extra, it is a good idea to know in advance where there is a marina or town along the coastline so you can get fresh drinking water and food supplies. You should pack for the predicted weather as well. If you know where these towns and marinas are, you also have a place to stay in the event the weather turns nasty and you have to go to land.

So, you have a sea kayak trip planned. What kind of gear do you need to pack in addition to your kayak and paddles?

• Life jacket
• Safety helmet
• Wetsuit, water shoes and kayaking gloves
• Light weight camping gear if you plan to camp overnight
• Dehydrated food and drinking water
• Compass
• Maps and nautical charts of the area
• A copy of your travel plans and a journal
• Camera
• Watertight deck bags for storing equipment
• Buoyancy bags
• Spray skirt of the kayak
• Spare clothing

When you plan a sea kayak trip make sure you take your time and never skip out on any safety checks before embarking. Always paddle with a partner and never alone, and make sure you leave a copy of your travel plans with someone in the event of an accident. Finally, make sure that you stow your gear on the kayak’s hull so that the weight is evenly distributed.

Start out with an overnight sea kayak trip so that you can get an idea of whether or not this kind of trip is for you. Once you are comfortable with it, you can take all sorts of kayaking trips that will allow you to see new and exciting places.

Kayaking 101: What’s the Worse That Could Happen?

Everywhere you look these days, there seems to be a kayak. Television shows, T.V. commercials, magazine ads for Viagra and practically every other car on the interstate seem to be featuring kayaks. Once only available in specialty stores – from people who actually know something about kayaks and kayaking – kayaks are now available in major chain sporting goods stores where anyone can walk in, purchase a kayak, leave the store with it and get on the water with absolutely no clue about what they’re doing or what they’ll do when things no longer look like the fun time they saw on the commercial. So, what’s the big deal, you wonder? What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, for starters, you could die. Kayaking is a very safe, extremely fun and relatively easy sport to get into. The cost of entry for someone wanting to join the ranks of kayakers worldwide can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars – depending on the quality of kayak and equipment you purchase. For instance, you could go into a major sporting goods store and walk out with some kind of kayak, PFD, and a paddle for around $300.00-$400.00, assuming you purchased one of the cheapest models on the showroom floor, and the least expensive (read heavy, unwieldy and uncomfortable) paddle and PFD. Will it float? Yes. Is it appropriate for the water you paddle in? Maybe, but that’s the point. There’s a good chance that neither you, nor anyone in the sporting goods store knows whether or not a particular boat is safe or appropriate for the water in which you paddle. That’s why specialty stores exist; and that’s why you should at least talk to your local kayak experts before paying a major chain store to put you at risk – over a few bucks.

Kayaking is a water sport – meaning it’s done on the water. The water is not home to us, no matter how at-home we may feel out there. When kayaking, there’s always the possibility that you’ll take a swim. This is true of any watercraft or water sport. If you end up in the water, several factors come into play that will determine your outcome. First, what kind of water is it? Cold water and fast-moving water are, in and of themselves, dangerous. Water with obstructions – visible or submerged – can also be quite dangerous if you are unaware of them and/or their location, or if you have an unplanned encounter with them. Marine life can pose a threat, as can wind, weather, tidal currents, boat traffic and simply getting lost. Tidal influences, for example, left a mother and her small son stranded on a mud flat for hours before a Coast Guard helicopter lifted them to safety. They were within 400-feet of shore, but could not safely walk through the mud and it would be 5-hours before the tide gave them enough water to get off the mud flat. Being eaten alive by mosquitoes and no-see-ums while stuck in the mud with no food or water was probably not the adventure this mother hoped for. A little local knowledge, a map and a tide chart would have helped. But you’re not likely to get any of that from a sporting goods chain.

Thus far, I’ve been referring to Flat-water kayaking because it seems so benign; but let me take this opportunity to simply state, flat out: Whitewater kayaking is absolutely dangerous and should never be attempted without instruction – and that includes Surf Kayaking. Basically, you could break your neck or become pinned and drown doing this type of kayaking without learning some technical skills first. But even sea kayakers and kayakers who plan on paddling in marshes and estuaries need to learn some skills and become familiar with tides, currents, weather and other local particulars such as wildlife and navigation. All it takes is a little wind to turn a relatively calm tidal river into a choppy mess even experts won’t paddle in. And, along many parts of the coast, if you don’t know the tides and currents, you’re likely to get swept somewhere you don’t want to be and not be able to get back.

Recently in Southeast Georgia, three-men in their mid-to-late-twenties set out on a 2-hour, self-guided tour on a marked paddling trail with numbered markers corresponding to a free map given away at the State Park where this trip starts and ends. They didn’t stick to the course and didn’t know how to navigate or read a map. Their adventure kept them out hours past their scheduled return time and by then the wind had changed – making it impossible for them to return. They had no food and had finished their water early in the day. The water was warm and there was little chance they would drown or become hypothermic, but one of them was startled by a Dolphin that surfaced beside his cockpit and caused him to fall over in a few feet of water. In that area, oyster beds are common and he was lucky he wasn’t injured on one. The men gave up fighting surface conditions and landed along a tree line where they began walking – hoping to find a road. They walked several miles before being found and finally returned to their vehicle 11-hours after setting-out on their 2-hour adventure. That’s not the worst, but that’s not ideal, either.

Kayaking is fun; and everyone should give it a try. But kayaking is a sport that can and has killed people who weren’t planning on dying when they unstrapped the kayak from their roof rack. If you want to enjoy this sport, you need to start on the right foot – with an education. You can learn more than you’d imagine just taking a guided tour from a professional outfitter; but classes are available for the more serious or safety-conscious paddlers who want to truly stack the odds in their favor. Read books, kayaking magazines and surf the internet for the information you need to keep you safe on the water. A little information and a lot of common sense may get you by; but consider the risks and consequences inherent to the water you will be paddling in and get some proper instruction if you really want to be as safe as you can be on the water. What’s the worst that can happen? That’s exactly the question you need to ask yourself.

Why Guided Kayaking Tours May Best Suit Tourists to New Zealand

As a tourist or visitor you are almost certainly going to be reliant on using a hired kayak. There are several popular destinations where you can hire for anything from a few hours to a few days.

You can choose from

* Hiring independently for a quiet paddle in the area adjoined to the hire center

* Hiring and transporting the kayak to your kayaking destination.

* Opting for guided kayak tours where they may transport kayaks for a group, to your kayaking destination

I would suggest that unless you are doing a short kayak within the location of the hire centre you will find it best to do guided kayak tours. Not only does this ensure safety when kayaking in New Zealand with someone who knows and understands local conditions, but it means you have everything you need provided as part of the package. Along with the kayak you will always require

* life jackets

* safety equipment e.g pumps

* Meals

* Camping equipment if an overnight kayaking tour

* Waterproof Dry bags for cameras, jewelery, spare clothing, food etc

Why Choose a Guided Kayaking Tour ?

New Zealand does have wonderful kayaking…but knowing about

* the tides

* the very unpredictable New Zealand weather conditions

* local knowledge of problem areas such as submerged rocks or logs, power stations on rivers, water currents, etc are invaluable

* Knowing where to find special scenic areas where birds may be nesting, native bush, lovely beaches, glowworm caves or historic sites all add to a more rewarding experience.

* A guided kayak tour takes away the hassles and concerns you may have, ensures you do not get “lost”, and makes for a more relaxed enjoyable experience for kayaking in New Zealand

* Safety – a kayaking tour in a group means there is always help at hand

Popular Tourist Destinations with Kayak Hire

You will come across kayak hire companies in many locations as you travel around New Zealand Listed are destinations where kayak hire is readily available. Some camping grounds will have a few sit on kayaks for hire, to just enjoy the local area. For longer kayaks you really need a sea kayak, or larger river kayak complete with rudder, skirt and space for storage of meals, dry clothing, cameras and other items.

* Bay of Islands – Paihia

* Auckland waterfront

* Rotorua – Hire from kayak shops or small kayaks available in camping grounds

* Taupo – several options

* Whanganui River ( 5 days) -a guided kayak tour

* Nelson/Marlborough – Abel Tasman National Park has kayak hire and guided or independent kayak tours, with several company choices

* Kaikoura – for seeing seals and marine life

* Guided Glacier kayaks at Mt Cook and the West Coast Glaciers

Plan some time to enjoy a kayak on your New Zealand holiday. It is a wonderful way of experiencing pristine areas only accessible by water and our diverse marine life. By choosing the right kayak experience for your abilities, time frame and what you most want to see… you will go home with another New Zealand adventure to remember.