By Leo Maloney, Oneida Daily Dispatch, link to original post
“There is nothing, absolutely nothing as much fun as messing around in boats.”
— The Magnificent Mr. Toad, “The Wind In the Willows.”
We have a fascination with boats and that extends to kayaks, one of the fastest growing segments of the watercraft industry. The ease of using them, their versatility and the freedom that they give you adds up to a whole lot of fun.
While kayaking various locations, especially local waters, people frequently ask us lots of questions. Many of the questions involve stability, ease of paddling, sea-worthiness and their suitability for fishing. Many people who know us sometimes ask for suggestions since they know that we spend countless hours each summer in our kayaks.
There is no standard answer what type of kayak one should buy. Scott Locorini, owner of Adirondack Exposure, explains that it depends on what a person wants to do and what type of water they plan to paddle. This will determine the type, length and material best suited for that person.
There are three basic categories of kayaks: whitewater, touring and recreational. For most people, a recreational kayak is the normal choice. These are the type that most of us would use for quiet rivers, small lakes and ponds, and the protected shoreline of larger lakes. Within that category there are many designs, variations and models to choose from.
Most recreational kayaks range from 10 to 14 feet in length. According to Scott Locorini, longer length means better tracking and efficiency, while shorter ones are more maneuverable. However, shorter ones also tend to be wider so they require more effort in paddling and tend to wander from a straight line in paddling. Within the longer kayaks there can be a difference in width. Narrower kayaks have more speed and ease of paddling but lack the initial stability of slightly wider ones.
Kayaks are made of several materials. Most common is polyethylene, which is rugged, resilient and moderate in price and weight. Composites of Kevlar or fiberglass are lighter but less durable and cost more. You can get superlight kayaks, but the prices are often incredibly high. Thermoplastics represent a midpoint between the polyethylene and composites in price, weight and durability. I recently purchased one for my wife and she is very pleased with it.
Cockpit sizes vary and larger cockpits make it easier for people, especially larger paddlers, to enter and exit. They also make it easier to carry gear such as photo equipment or fishing tackle in front of you. Of course the more cockpit space you have, the more likely you are to get splashed by waves.
As mentioned earlier, the touring kayaks are longer and narrower for traveling long distances. They have many other features designed for the person who wants to cover long distances such as on a camping trip or long voyage.
I am often asked the question about how convenient it is to fish out of a kayak. Keep in mind that the initial users of kayaks, the Eskimos, depended on them for getting their food. Because of the increased popularity of kayaks and fishing, now there are several specialized models designed just for fishing. Fishing kayaks are the fasting growing niche within this popular sport.
However, most recreational kayaks will do just fine with a little adjustment on your part and limiting your tackle. Scott Locorini reminds us that you can trick out any recreational kayak to be a fishing kayak or you can go for some pre-designed models with larger cockpits, rod holders, etc.
The open or “sit-upon” kayaks offer ease of movement, stability and many features, including the ability to add electronics like fish finders or live wells. Another factor is weight. Since they generally are heavy, most people trailer them or leave them at camp where they fish a single body of water.
For general paddling and exploring, consider the factors of weight and width that were discussed earlier. Remember that initial stability, a comfortable seat and a good back rest are important considerations for anyone who plans to spend considerable time in their kayak.
Your best bet is to test paddle several types and models to see how they handle, how comfortable each is and other factors such as weight. Take the opportunity to test paddle several and you will probably join the growing ranks of people who spend much of the summer in their kayak.
If you are new to kayaking or want to develop your skills further, consider taking various paddling classes from Scott Locorini of Adirondack Exposure. Scott is a licensed Adirondack guide and a member of the Kayak Hall of Fame. He is located four miles south of Old Forge on Route. 28 near Okara Lakes. Check out the website www.adirondackexposure.com or call Scott at 315-335-1681.
Kayaks are actually very stable since you have a low center of gravity sitting right at water level. They are easy to paddle, go where other boats cannot go, and are easy to transport. Choose wisely and join the growing ranks of people who have discovered just how much fun kayaking is.