Sea Kayaking Frequently Asked Questions:
Copyright 1998, Todd Leigh. Copyright applies to compilation and sections where
another author is not noted. Authors where noted retain their copyrights.
Rights granted to copy as desired for non-profit activities. All other rights
Usually, questions, comments, criticisms, and other good advices are happily
None of the information in this FAQ will make you a good kayaker. None of it is
guaranteed to be correct, and much of it is subject to opinion. Take it for what
you paid for it.
Todd Leigh - FAQ compiler
Thanks to: Chris Bell - suggestions
Sam Crowley - history and hypothermia
Ralph Diaz - folding kayaks
George Dyson - history critique
Jackie Fenton - good suggestions and hypertext formatting
Alex Ferguson - history and good suggestions on everything else
Preston Holmes - hypertext formatting and web posting
Bob Myers - suggestions, faq submission criteria, invaluable aid
Kirk Olsen - suggestions
Nick Schade - kayak building and kits
Greg Stamer - history critique and suggestions
Note the inclusion of a controversial topics section. Please don't send me email
to argue about these. Constructive criticism will be accepted though.
If you want to add references, please include publisher information. If anyone
can fill in the publisher information that's missing currently, please send
If you know of a club, outfitter, or manufacturer that should be listed, send a
blurb in the format shown, and I'll add it. Same with places to paddle.
This FAQ is available on FTP from:
On the Web, the URL is:
Section 1: Buying a Boat
What is the best boat?
Every boat is different and there is no best boat for all paddling conditions.
Any boat is a trade off, features that work well in one set of conditions can
compromise performance/handling in another set of conditions. You have to know
what type of paddling conditions you want to paddle in before selecting a boat.
Multi-day expeditions dictate a different boat than morning explorations of an
estuary or surf-zone excitement or teaching others to kayak.
One fundamental trade-off in boat design is tracking vs. turning. Generally a
boat that tracks well (goes straight) does not turn as well as a boat that does
not track well. There are varying degrees of these two characteristics in all
boats, and some boats that track well can be made to turn better if you are
willing and able to lean them when you turn, but if you're going to be turning a
lot, buy a boat that turns, if you are going straight all day, buy a boat that
Another characteristic to consider is the initial stability of the boat. Initial
(or primary) stability is the ease with which a boat starts to tip. Low initial
stability will make the boat feel 'tender' or 'tippy'. A boat that is tender to
sit in is going to be much more difficult to fish or take pictures out of, so if
that's what you want to do, consider a boat with more initial stability. A boat
with very high initial stability will be more difficult to handle in big waves,
because it will tend to try to sit flat relative to the water rather than the
horizon. The consequences of this tendency are left as an exercise for the
Another thing to consider is the final stability of the boat. Final (or
secondary) stability is the ease with which the boat tips all the way over. High
final stability is desirable for any boat, but it may take some time to develop
the balance and skill to take advantage of it.
Paddlers are all different. A boat will perform/handle differently for a tall
person than for a short person, and for a heavy person than a light person. The
fit of the cockpit will vary from boat to boat. A person's requirements for a
boat may change as the person's skill level changes. Often, a person with
advanced skills will be interested in different boat features than a person with
Should I start in a 'beginner' boat, or should I buy an 'expert' boat and hope I
can 'grow' into it?
Often people want to purchase a boat they can 'grow into'. This implies a
distinction between boats that are comfortable for beginners and boats that are
comfortable for experts.
The biggest perceived difference in 'beginner' boats vs. 'expert' boats is in
initial stability. 'Expert' boats generally have lower initial stability than
'beginner' boats, and 'beginner' boats often increase initial stability at the
expense of final stability. Advanced paddlers generally want a boat with high
final stability because it is needed in more difficult sea conditions. Advanced
paddlers (and beginners) also want a fast boat, and in many boats initial
stability is traded off for speed.
If, as a beginner, you are willing to put up with some uneasy sensations early
in your paddling career, you may wish to purchase an 'expert' boat and 'grow
into' it, assuming the 'expert' boat has some other characteristics that you
find desirable. Keep in mind that low initial stability, the hallmark of
'expert' boats, is not a desirable characteristic in and of itself. Find a boat
that you like, and think you will continue to like as you become a better
kayaker, and purchase that boat. If it happens to be a boat that is outside of
your comfort level now, ask yourself honestly if it will ever be in your comfort
level, and either purchase it now and put up with the difficulties, or
rent/borrow boats until you are comfortable in your dream boat, then buy it.
Don't buy a boat just because someone tells you it is an 'expert' boat. Find out
what you like in a boat and use your own judgement in your purchase.
Do not confuse how many years a person has been paddling with advanced skills. A
person's skills will only increase if they work at increasing them.
Should I get plastic, fiberglass, wood, fabric or something more exotic?
Plastic is heavier, more resistant to damage, harder to repair.
Fiberglass is lighter, easier to repair, results in finer lines, but is more
expensive. Fiberglass is generally more rigid than plastic, which can result in
a faster boat.
Wood is labor intensive but relatively easy to build (a little less labor
intensive if built from a kit), light, easy to repair, needs maintenance. There
are also a few companies that manufacture wood/epoxy-construction kayaks, but
they tend to be more expensive.
Fabric is labor intensive to build though a little less so than wood, fragile,
and needs maintenance.
Folding boats are a form of fabric boat that collapses for transport/storage.
They are generally more expensive to buy than any other kind of boat, but there
are other considerations that may make them a better overall value. See section
5, folding kayaks, for more information.
Inflatable boats tend to be much less expensive than any other sort of boat.
Rigid boats may perform better than folding or inflatable boats. Folding and
inflatable boats have the advantage of easier portability and storage. If you
plan to travel with your boat, a folding or inflatable boat will be easier to
get on airliners. If your home is tight on storage space, a folding/inflatable
boat will be easier to store than a rigid boat.
More exotic materials (like kevlar, carbon fiber) tend to be lighter and
How should the boat fit?
You can pad any boat, but it should fit you fairly well to begin with. Your
contact points with the boat are your feet, your knees (on the underside of the
deck), your hips (on the sides of the seat), and your butt (on the seat). Some
boats fit big people better, some are better for small folks. The size of your
feet is a consideration too. In general, a sea kayak needs to be comfortable
because you are going to be in it all day, perhaps without a break. Some people
prefer a looser fit in a sea kayak than in a whitewater boat, allowing space to
stretch and move about.
Another thing to consider is cockpit size. A larger cockpit can make it easier
for a person to enter and exit a boat. A smaller cockpit is preferred by some
because it is considered more watertight.
How should the boat be rigged?
Deck lines that run along the edges of the deck from the bow to the stern are
important safety equipment. Bungies that cross the deck in front of and behind
the cockpit are handy for stowing gear where it is easy to reach. Some paddlers
prefer to have built-in compasses and pumps in their boats. Tow systems may be
necessary for aiding other paddlers.
Different boats come with different kinds of deck rigging. Anything it doesn't
have that you want you will have to add. Are you willing to go to that trouble?
How big of a boat do I need?
The volume of the boat you need is dependent on how much stuff you are going to
carry in it, and on how big you are (see 'fit' above). Overnight trips do not
need as large a boat as week-long outings. You can, of course, pack light and
get more stuff in a smaller boat (heck, Paul Caffyn has done some monstrously
long trips in a Nordkapp, not the largest volume boat that's available out
there), but for some people part of the joy of sea kayaking is in the amount of
(luxurious) stuff they can bring. If that's you, you need a bigger boat. A
bigger boat will also be easier to paddle in bigger seas than a smaller boat.
Also, the way the volume of the boat is distributed is important in dictating
how the boat handles, as more bow (and stern) volume helps to prevent the bow or
stern of the boat from diving into the trough of waves in surf.
Should I get a single or double?
Single kayaks provide greater maneuverablity than doubles. Doubles can be faster
than singles. Doubles may be able to carry more gear, but keep in mind that they
need to carry more than twice as much gear for this to be true. A double will
require the use of a rudder to steer. A double on a trip can provide an
ill/injured person with a safer place to sit than in a single being towed. Some
doubles are more stable than a single but will be more difficult to rescue and
What kind of hatches should I get?
There are lots of different hatch designs out there. Considerations when looking
at hatches are watertightness, resistance to breakage, and size. If you want to
bring the kitchen sink, you'd better not just have a 9 inch round hatch.
Consider also that heavy seas and surf can break or blow off hatch covers, so
consider how they are attached to avoid losing them, and don't depend on them
for floatation of the boat. If the compartments aren't full of gear, use float
Will I have enough cargo space?
Cargo space is related to size of the boat, but also to position of the
bulkheads (if there are any). The cockpit can also be used for cargo, but keep
in mind that it may not stay dry, it may impede your exit if that becomes
necessary, and it may fall out if you do exit. Keep in mind also that a leaky
hatch or bulkhead may compromise the watertight cargo compartments, and pack
Some sort of floatation is required for safe paddling. A "proper" sea boat
should either have bulkheads that you can rely on for integrity and
water-tightness, or the space forward and aft of the cockpit should be filled
with secured floatation. Keep in mind that float bags take up stowage space and
that stores by themselves don't fill the "holes". A sea sock is a valuable
added safety measure in a boat without bow and stern bulkheads.
Almost all plastic boats have bulkheads that leak. The leaks can be repaired
temporarily, but they will eventually start leaking again. Leaking bulkheads can
compromise the safety provided by the added bouyancy of the watertight
compartments. Expect to spend some time patching the leaks with a plastic boat.
Do I need a rudder?
This is one of sea kayaking's religious debates.
You might need a rudder to go straight, or the boat might need a rudder to go
straight, or you might just want a rudder so you don't have to worry about
steering. Look for a design that is durable, easily stowed, and which has a
footbrace design you can live with. Like rigging, this is something you can
modify if you are willing to do the work. An alternative to a rudder is a skeg,
either permanent or retractable, which is basically a fixed rudder. It will not
help steer, but it will help go straight. Both rudders and skegs are subject to
breakage/jamming. In many rudder systems, a failure may result in losing support
from your foot braces. A properly designed rudder should be able to stand up to
a lot of abuse including resting the kayak on end on it.
A rudder should not be necessary for you to control your kayak, and you should
learn proper kayaking technique without the rudder becoming a crutch.
Two boat characteristics that a rudder or skeg can help with are the boat's
tendency to weathercock, and the boat's tendency to broach.
Weathercocking occurs when there is a wind in the front quarter or beam of the
boat. Because of their aerodynamics/hydrodynamics, many boats will tend to try
to turn into a wind when they are moving forward because the bow of the boat is
held in place by the bow wave generated by the boat's forward movement, while
the stern is free to pivot. A boat that weathercocks is safer than one in which
the bow is blown downwind as it is very difficult to turn a boat with this
characteristic into the wind.
Broaching is the boat's tendency to turn sideways to a wave coming from the
stern or rear quarter of the boat. This happens because the water in waves is
moving more slowly in the trough of the wave than at the crest, making the stern
of the boat try to 'catch up' to the bow.
How much of a consideration is the weight of the boat?
If you need to haul the boat on and off the top of the car, carry it any
distance, or portage, this is an important characteristic. Lighter boats also
tend to feel livelier in the water and are faster, although this is not as much
of a consideration when you've got 300 pounds of boater and gear in the boat. In
general, plastic is heavier than fiberglass is heavier than exotic materials
like kevlar, carbon fiber, etc., but there are exceptions.
How important is the durability of the boat's construction?
If you want to drag your boat over rocks or drop it off a pier, this is an
important consideration, but even if you don't abuse your boat, it wears in
normal usage as well, so consider durability in your selection. In general,
plastic stands up to abuse better than fiberglass, but is harder to repair. Keep
in mind that in fiberglass construction, heavier is not necessarily stronger.
How much should I spend on a boat? (USA prices)
Buy a boat you can afford, but if you find a boat you really like which is too
expensive, it may be worthwhile to save your pennies until you can afford it. If
you have a fixed price range you are interested in, it may be a good idea to
only try boats in that price range, so you are satisfied with what you get.
Plastic boats run $700-$1500, Fiberglass $1300-$2800, other materials tend to
cost more. Sometimes you can find boats sold used for less, especially if a shop
or outfitter is selling old boats from their rental fleet.
What should I look for when I'm trying a boat out?
The best way to choose a boat, and the only way to determine its paddling
characteristics, is to try it, and you should take opportunities to try as many
boats as you can to decide what you like. Many shops have demo days, and
symposia are good opportunities to try boats. Try to find an opportunity to
paddle in the conditions you are planning on using the boat in. Also, consider
how the boat handles when it is loaded as well as unloaded. Things to think
about when you are trying the boat are:
Does it feel comfortable just sitting in it?
Lean the boat onto it's side. Does it stop leaning or keep going and tip over?
Is there a point where the resistance to leaning increases?
Paddle the boat into the wind, across the wind, with the wind behind you. How
easy is it to keep on course? Does it turn into the wind (weathercocking) or out
of the wind excessively? How fast is it?
How easy is the boat to turn?
These things test some of the fundamental characteristics of boat handling:
Speed - a function of length, width, and hull shape.
Tracking - ability of the boat to go straight.
Maneuverability - ability of the boat to turn easily.
Initial or primary stability - effort it takes to lean the boat off of an
Final or secondary stability - effort it takes to tip the boat over.
Tracking vs. Maneuverability
Initial vs. Final Stability
Speed vs. Stability
Section 2: Learning to Sea Kayak
How do I learn to kayak?
There are lots of options:
1. Buy a boat, take it out and paddle, teach yourself from harsh experience.
Books and some videos are available. See the list at the end of the FAQ.
Seidman's _The Essential Sea Kayaker_ and Foster's _Sea Kayaking_ are
particularly good for beginners. This can be a dangerous way to go.
2. Go on a guided trip. Most outfitters provide guides, equipment, and
3. Take a class. Many shops that sell sea kayaks have an instructional program.
The American Canoe Association and other national paddlesport organizations
also offer sea kayak instruction.
4. Join a local club and paddle with some experienced paddlers. Many clubs offer
some level of kayak instruction.
Am I ready to go kayaking on my own?
Turing test for sea kayaking, or, are you ready to do a coastal kayaking trip on
These questions are not intended to tell anyone that they can or can't go out
kayaking on their own. They are simply a quick survey of the knowledge/skills
that are helpful in coastal kayaking. You have to decide for yourself what you
are capable of.
Do you own your own boat(s)?
What size/kind of hatches does it have?
Does it have watertight bulkheads?
What sort of deck rigging has your boat got?
Does it have a rudder?
Can you fix your boat if it breaks?
Do you have a spare paddle?
Do you have a paddle float?
Loading and Camping
Have you ever paddled a loaded boat?
Have your ever loaded a boat?
What sort of camping equipment do you own?
How comfortable are you camping in bad weather conditions?
Have you ever dealt with cold water conditions?
What kind of paddling clothes do you have to deal with cold water?
What are the effects of cold shock?
Do you know how to prevent it?
What are the symptoms of hypothermia?
What about hyperthermia?
Travelling in Seas
Do you know how far you can travel in a day with a loaded boat?
How about in a headwind?
How about with following seas?
Do you know your limits with respect to wind/weather/sea conditions you are
comfortable paddling in, or have you only paddled calm seas?
Would you know when it is not safe to paddle?
Have you ever paddled in surf?
Do you know how wind/weather/topography/tides affect sea conditions?
Do you own a weather radio?
How about a marine VHF 2-way radio?
Do you know different ways to signal for help if you need it?
What types of signalling equipment do you own?
Do you know how to reenter your boat with or without assistance should you
tip over and have to exit?
What sea conditions are you capable of doing this in?
Have you ever tipped over and exited your boat?
Do you have a roll?
How are your braces?
Can you navigate in a kayak if you can't see your destination?
Do you own a compass?
Hand held or deck mount?
Do you know how to use a nautical chart and protractor?
Do you know how to correct for magnetic declination?
How do you decide when not to go?
Tides and Tidal Currents
What do you know about tides and tidal currents?
How do they affect sea conditions?
Do you know what to do if someone gets hurt?
Are you prepared to tow?
Have you ever taken a coastal kayaking class?
Have you ever gone on an extended kayaking trip?
Section 3: Equipment
The essentials -
PFD : personal flotation device (life jacket)
safety gear -
emergency shelter and rations
first aid kit
helmet for surf conditions
flares : handheld and aerial
marine VHF radio
compass : hand-held and deck-mounted
tide charts and tables
polyester, nylon, or wool insulating garments if it's cold or the water is cold
cotton garments for cooling/sun protection if it's hot and the water is warm
headwear : balaclava, beanie, or neoprene hood, sun hat, rain hat, etc.
handwear : gloves or pogies
footwear : booties, neoprene socks, aquasocks, sandals, rubber boots, etc.
tents or bivy sacks
pots and pans
dry bags for gear stowage
Section 4: Sea Kayak Construction
Author: Nick Schade
How do I build a kayak?
Strip-built (SB) and Stitch & Glue (S&G) are two methods of home-building a
kayak. There are also several methods of constructing "traditional" skin covered
kayaks, some other techniques for plywood, and you can also use a mold. One
method of building skin and frame boats is described here. Other methods may be
added to the FAQ at a later date.
Strip Built Vs. Stitch & Glue:
The two building processes SB and S&G are quite different. In SB you bend narrow
strips around a form. With S&G there is no form. You take shaped plywood panels,
stitch them edge-to-edge, then glue them together. What this means is that with
SB you can make smooth rounded shapes. With S&G you end up with angles running
lengthwise for a "hard-chined" shape. Both shapes are good. Some people prefer a
Neither method produces a "better" boat. Strip Built gives more design freedom
(you can make it hard-chined if desired.), and looks nicer (plywood looks
alright but strips of cedar, redwood and pine are beautiful). SB can make a
lighter weight boat but S&G can also be light.
S&G is easier. There is less setup involved and somewhat easier finish work.
The following are outlines for each process:
The basic process for a strip built kayak is this:
1. Draw out the forms full size,
2. Paste the drawings to cheap plywood,
3. Cut out the forms using the saber-saw or band-saw,
4. Cut a hole in the middle of the forms,
5. String the forms on a straight two-by-four,
6. Lay 3/4" x 1/4" strips on the forms and staple in place,
7. Add strips, gluing edge to edge, and stapling,
8. When stripped all the way around, pull the staples,
9. Plane smooth,
10. Sand smoother,
11. Fiber-glass the outside,
12. Remove the shell from the forms in two halves (deck and hull),
13. Plane and sand the inside,
14. Fiber-glass the inside,
15. Glue the deck and hull back together,
17. Varnish, go to 16 and repeat until bored,
This process shouldn't take more than three months. The weight of these boats
with a good protective layer of glass is 45 lbs or less. Materials cost about
$300 US total.
STITCH AND GLUE
The basic process for Stitch & Glue is:
1. "Scarf" together several pieces of plywood (Make one big sheet out of several
2. Draw the parts full-sized on the plywood.
3. Cutout the parts.
4. Drill small holes along the edges of the parts ever 3" to 5".
5. With wire "stitch" the panels for the hull together through the drilled
6. Glue the interior seams with a "fillet" of thickened resin covered with
7. repeat 5 & 6 for the deck.
8. Bond together the deck and hull in a similar manner.
9. Cut the wires and pull them out or sand them down.
10. "Radius" the corners.
11. Glass the outside. (optional but recommend on the bottom)
12. Sand and Paint.
This process takes about 1 to 1 1/2 months worth of weekends and evenings.
Weight with glass on the bottom is about 40 lbs. Material cost about $200 US.
SKIN AND FRAME
The basic process for Skin and Frame is:
1. Cut two gunwhale pieces, symmetrical about the grain, from a 16ft. plank.
2. Cut and plane an identical angle in both ends of the two pieces so that when
they are placed in a 'boat' shape, they meet flat.
3. Tie the ends together and establish your shear-line shape by putting spacers
between the two pieces. Peg the ends of the gunwhales together.
4. Cut about 12-15 deck supports to hold the shape of gunwhales. One serves as
a footbrace, one is right behind the cockpit as a back support, and the two
in front of the cockpit should be arched to provide knee room and easy entry.
Peg or mortice-tenon these supports in and lash them to the gunwhales.
5. Cut slots in the bottom of the gunwhales for ribs.
6. Cut stem and stern pieces from a plank. These should meet the gunwhales
smoothly and provide an attachment point for the keel. Lash them to the
7. Steam, cut, and bend ribs. The ribs will establish the bottom shape of the
hull. Peg the ribs into the gunwhales if desired.
8. Cut chine stringers and a keel piece to fit, peg to the ribs if desired, peg
and lash to the stem and stern pieces.
9. Skin the boat with your choice of material.
10. Cut and bend a cockpit coaming, sew it to the skin.
11. Paint the skin to waterproof it if necessary.
This is obviously a much-simplified list of steps. It takes about 100 hours to
build a boat this way, about 3 months of weekends. Weight is less than 40
pounds. Material cost is about $200 US.
Where can I get a kit to build a kayak?
10 Ash Swamp Rd, Apt I
Glastonbury, CT 06033
- Unique performance kayaks. 7 designs and growing
- Sea kayak plans and kits,
- Spooned & feathered paddle plan
- send $2 for more info
the Newfound Woodworks
RFD #2 Box 850
Bristol, NH 03222
- Kayak and Canoe kits
- Cove and bead strips
- Epoxy and glass
RR 1 Deep River,Ont.
- plans for double-paddle canoe
- boat design program for PC
- polyester resin, glass cloth, footrests,...
Henry (Mac) McCarthy
1705 Andera Place
Sarasota, Fl 34235
- Wee Lassie
Outer Island Kayak
c/o Jason Designs
230 East Main St.
Branford, CT 06405
- 1 West Greenland style design
821 Dock St. #3-6
Tacoma, Washington 98402
- four models, patterns and instructions
Minnesota Canoe Association
P.O. Box 13567
Minneapolis, MN 55414
- instructions & plans
- canoes & kayaks
833N Colrain Rd.
Greenfield, MA 01301
- Kayaks and Canoes
HCR 32 Box 253
Semasco Estates, ME 04565
- Several models
Burk's Falls, Ont
- Kayaks and Canoes
Stitch and Glue:
Chesapeake Light Craft, Inc.
1805 George Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401
- About 10 Models
- kits, plans, and finished boats
- Ocoume Plywood
- epoxy, fiberglass, hardware, seats, rudders
- other stuff for kayak builders
9152 Rosecrans Ave.
PO Box 1804WA
Bellflower, CA 90706
- A 17' Touring Sea Kayak-one person(stitch-n-glue)
- 19'9" Sea Kayak Two-two person (s&g also)
- 13' or 15' Flat bottom kayak (standard sawn frame construction)
- 12' or 14' Canoe/Kayak "Can-Yak" (standard sawn frame construction)
- 9' Kid's kayak "Kid-Yak" (s&g)
P.O. Box 475
Woolwich, ME 04579
Spring Harbor Kayak Company
5156 Spring Court
Madison, WI 53705
- Ganymede (single)
- Gemini (double)
Pygmy Sea Kayaks
P.O. Box 1529
227 Jackson St.
Port Townsend, WA 98368
- Multichine kits
John D Teitsheid
Star Rt 2, Box 175
Crescent City, FL 32112
- Double paddle canoe
14 Hillside Avenue
Croton, NY 10520
118 E. Randle
Lebonon, IL 62254
- Toto double paddle canoe
- info $1
San Javier Kayak
2425B Channing Way #220
Berkeley, CA 94704
- West Greenland Sea Kayak
Frame and Skin:
Boucher Kayak Company
1907 Ludington Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
- plans, kits, video. Greenland style
Dyson, Baidarka & Company
435 W. Holly St.
Bellingham, WA 98225
- Aleut style plans, materials including heatshrinkable nylon
- (14, 15, and 26 ounces/sq yard, uncoated, approx 6ft width)
Baidarka Historical Society
Bellingham WA 98227
- Distributes those 5 or 6 of David Zimmerly's plans that document Aleut
- Distributes some rather obscure books.
R. Bruce Lemon
P.O. Box 54A
Jacksonville, NY 14854
- Aleut style, plans, kits, video
Stimson Marine, Inc.
RR1, Box 524, River Rd.
Boothbay, Maine 04537
- Heat shrink daycron skin
Hand Crafted Kayaks
P.O. Box 580
Eastsound, WA 98245
- Traditional Eskimo wood kayaks
P.O. Box 451
Eastsound, WA 98245
- Design, prototyping, building
The Indian River Canoe and Kayak Company, Inc.
1861 So. Patrick Drive
Indian Harbor Beach, FL 32937
- Inuit based
Spartina Kayak Co.
105-A Jordon Rd.
S. Dartmouth, MA 02748
- Fiberglass hull, strip deck kit
David A. Lake
RR 3 Box 845
Wiscasset, ME 04578
- "Chewonki" Sea Kayak, plywood
Baldwin Boat Company
RFD 2 Box 268
Hoxie Hill Rd.
Orrington, ME 04474
- Kits and completed kayaks in FRP and Kevlar
9600 Seventeen Mile Rd.
Marshall, MI 49068
3556-C West Blakely
Bainbridge Island, WA 98100-2205
- canoe, kayak, historic decked canoe
- info $1
PO Box 78,
Brooklin, Maine 04616
The Wooden Boat Shop
1007 NE Boat St
Seattle, WA 98105
Toll Free: (800)933-3600
- Stitch and Glue kits and plans
- plans for 7 fast, ultralight kayaks
- all materials, supplies, and tools
- marine mahogany
- expert advice from builders and paddlers
Tonawanda, NY 14150
Boat Plans International Ltd.
Boulder, CO 80308
Sea Bright Kayak
Sea Bright, NJ 07760
- Plastic and PVC pipe 16' kit
4818 Rive Sud
L*vis, Qc, CANADA, G6W 5N6
- Composite Kayak kits
- Single or Twin
Whitelaw, WI 54247
- Several plywood designs
- Classes on Greenland and Aleutian style boat construction.
Section 5: Folding Kayaks
Author: Ralph Diaz
"It is impossible to exaggerate the usefulness of a folding kayak. Even the
hackneyed phrase 'flying carpet' is appropriate to this ingeniously conceived
craft . . . There is an immense amount to be learned about this deceptively
simple boat. I suspect the reason for the folding kayak's complexity is inherent
in the boat's design. All other craft have conventional similarities--a little
plastic motorboat has many features in common with the QE II, but these have
nothing in common with a folding kayak. Consider the shape and construction of
the folding kayak, or any skin boat, and you have to reach a conclusion that its
nearest equivalent is an animal's body, not a fish but a mammal, a vertebrate.
It has an interior skeleton, ribs, joints, a spine; it has a head and a tail, it
has a hide, it flexes. To this animal shape the paddler brings a brain, and energy, and guts."
- from the Foreword by Paul Theroux to Ralph Diaz's _The Complete Folding
Kayaker_ published in 1994.
Is a folding kayak a sea kayak?
Yes, in every sense of the term, i.e. it's a kayak that is at home on open
water. Since they first started a small-boating revolution in the early part of
this century, folding kayaks have been paddled safely and successfully on every
body of water from the Arctic to Antarctica. While they were first conceived as
a convenient, knock-down craft to take in the overhead luggage compartments of
trains heading to Alpine lakes and streams, intrepid types turned their prows to
the sea almost from the very beginning. For example, the English Channel was
crossed in one of the first ones in 1909.
Since then, they have proven time and time again that they are the
quintessential open water boat, particularly for extreme conditions and
expedition use. They have crossed 3,000 miles of the open Atlantic, first in
1928 and then later in 1956; neither voyage with any support craft hovering
nearby. In the 1920s, adventurers paddled folding kayaks in journeys following
the coastlines from Europe to India and beyond. These seaworthy kayaks were used
in long-distance open-water races during the 1920 and 1930s. For example, in
1933 Fridel Meyer paddled her folding kayak to win a contest involving more than
1,000 miles of exposed waters off the British coastline.
Paddlers today suffer from a "born yesterday" syndrome. They tend to think that
sea kayaking only began in the late 1950s with the advent of the first
workshop-built British hardshells and the factory production boom that followed
in the mid-1970s, but between the World Wars, hundreds of thousands of folding
kayaks were being built and paddled everywhere by ordinary people. While the
sport is currently growing by the proverbial leaps and bounds, it still pales by
comparison to the impact and ubiquitous presence folding kayaks had during that
Should you consider a folding kayak only if you require its foldability feature?
No. That suggestion is seen in general sea kayaking manuals, most of which, in
essence, say that foldables are dogs to paddle and that you should only get one
as a last resort because you have no place to store a hardshell or you plan to
do a lot of air travel. Such conventional wisdom aside, foldability is far from
the only thing going for these versatile boats.
First, they are inherently seaworthy by design. They owe this strength to their
underlying skin-over-frame construction. This form of construction closely
resembles that of kayaks of Northern native peoples, and it is what made them
such seaworthy craft. Like their ancestors, modern skin boats and folding kayaks
flex with the action of the sea rather than fighting its forces as a hardshell
does. The flex comes from the way that the internal frame blends the boat to the
contours of the surrounding water, giving you a feel for sea's action much as
early roadsters gave a driver "road feel". The soft sides of a skin or folding
kayak also play a role in seaworthiness. They dampen the impact of waves and
wakes, so you are tossed around less.
Stability is another advantage. Most foldables made since the early 1950s have
air tubes running along their sides called air sponsons. These tubes, encased in
the soft sides of folding kayaks, provide unbelievable stability both in initial
and final phases. The soft sides themselves also play a part in stability. No
matter how taut the skin, water pressure forms small indents in the hull between
long pieces of the frame along the entire length of the boat. These concave
pockets tend to grip or take a bite in the water to slow and control any
sideways tipping process caused by beam waves or wake or by your moving around
in your boat.
The built-in seaworthiness and stability of folding kayaks tend to make them
safe boats on open water, especially for the majority of sea kayakers who have
not developed expert skills or been able to keep these constantly honed. The
superb open-water handling function of a foldable results from design; it is not
so dependent on operator skills as, say, a narrow Greenland style hardshell.
Your learning curve in a foldable is less sharp, allowing you to reach skill
levels that enable you to handle rougher conditions more quickly.
How do folding kayaks compare in efficiency, performance, and speed with
"Common wisdom", again, says that folding kayaks are typically less of a
"performance boat" than hardshell kayaks. This is only partially true and
requires some examination.
Folding kayaks are not all inherently slow; their models run a range of speeds
just as hardshell models do. Real life experience and races in which a mix of
hardshells and foldables participate tend to indicate that foldables are as fast
or faster than about 80% of hardshell kayaks. If you are in a folding kayak on a
club trip or paid tour, you will not find that every hardshell will be ahead of
you. Only some might.
Much depends on conditions. In absolutely flat, calm water, foldables, which
tend to be wider, are a bit less efficient to paddle, i.e. you may have to put
more effort into your stroke to accelerate and maintain the same constant speed
as a narrower hardshell boat. As conditions get rougher, though, the inherent
stability and seaworthiness of their design makes them the more efficient craft.
You can concentrate on your forward paddling for a high speed-made-good; in a
hardshell you would likely need to shorten your stroke or skim your paddle in a
semi-brace to stabilize your boat, which would rob you of some forward speed
If performance means that a kayak easily allows you to Eskimo roll, use a
sculling brace, and the like, then most folding kayaks do lack "performance."
You'll generally find it harder to do such tricks in a foldable, except for in
of the narrower ones, but since such skills are not as necessary to keep a
folding kayak upright as they are in a hardshell under extreme conditions,
"performance" is almost a moot point for open-water paddling, unless it's an
objective in itself.
Are folding kayaks delicate or damage-prone?
Not necessarily. You should treat the hull of a folding kayak in much the same
way as you would treat a fiberglass kayak, i.e. you avoid dragging it on gravel
beaches and the like. The frames can take a lot of punishment. Parts don't
readily break because both wooden and aluminum frames have enough flex in them
to absorb shock and avoid cracking. If conditions are severe enough to crack a
frame member of a foldable, they are also likely to crack or cause fissures in a
fiberglass hull, or put some serious dents in a plastic one.
Folding kayaks are tough enough to be used by the military of some 20 nations.
These boats handle the punishment that special forces tend to dish out while
keeping crews alive to complete their missions. Simply put, if the boats weren't
up to the rigors of special operations, the military would not entrust their
highly trained personnel to them, period.
Folding kayaks tend to be long-lived. It is not unusual to see 25 year old hulls
still going strong. Frames have proven to last 50 years or more with only a
modicum of care.
Do they cost more than hardshells?
Initially many folding kayaks carry a higher price tag than similar hardshells.
Most are considerably costlier than plastic models, but the price differentials
are not so great when compared to top-of-the-line fiberglass hardshells,
especially ones made of kevlar and other special materials. When considering
cost, your decision also should be related to other factors such as useful life,
depreciation, and the like.
Folding kayaks tend to last longer than hardshells. Hulls on foldables are good
for 25 years and more, whereas plastic boats are good for perhaps a dozen years,
and fiberglass will last about 15 to 20 years. You can replace a hull on a
foldable to give it a second life; you can't on a hardshell.
Depreciation on foldables is absurdly low. You can see this in the prices of
used ones versus used hardshells, which reflect the relative useful life of the
boats. It is not unusual to see a 10-year-old used foldable sell for more than
the price the original owner paid for it. Hardshells, on the other hand, sell
for only a fraction of their original price after 5 to 10 years.
What are the best materials for the frame and skin in a folding kayak?
There are no "best" materials. In frames you have a choice between foldables
with all wooden frames and foldables with aluminum long pieces combined with
cross pieces made of a range of materials including aluminum, polyethylene,
polycarbonate, and fiberglass filled nylon. All of the materials have their
pluses and minuses.
Avoid listening to any of the common wisdoms about the materials. Wooden frames
don't necessarily need more maintenance than aluminum, as you may have heard,
and aluminum isn't a problem to fix in the field, again something that is often
Buy a foldable with a wooden frame because you like the boat or you have a
passion for wood and its feel. The same is true for one with an aluminum frame,
i.e. follow your heart and/or the seat of your pants.
Is assembly of folding kayaks difficult? How long does it take?
Much depends on the model. Some can be assembled in about 10 to 15 minutes once
you get the hang of it. Others can take a half hour or more. For the record, the
fastest assembly of a folding kayak, a double Klepper, is a little over 4
minutes starting from the parts being in their bags.
It should be noted that you don't have to assemble and disassemble a folding
kayak around each outing. They can be left assembled for years if you have a
place to store them that way. They can be cartopped like any hardshell. Storage
and cartopping will do no harm to the boats.
Where do I get more information on foldables?
The Complete Folding Kayaker, by Ralph Diaz, McGraw-Hill (Ragged Mountain Press)
Folding Kayaker newsletter
PO Box 0754
New York, NY 10024
author of this portion of the FAQ; he will respond to all e-mail, phone calls
and snail mail.
1244 Cartwright St.
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6H 3R8
Canadian company that makes a double (K-2) and several sizes of singles
including a Greenland styled model being introduced in Spring 1995. Most popular
kayak is the K-Light, which weighs as little as 29 lb.
PO Box 70877
Charleston, SC 29415
US company makes a double and a single plus some accessories such as boat carts,
sails, etc. The models are the least expensive of the major manufacturers.
Folbot Canada Inc.
in Canada: (800)263-5099
P. O. Box 3162
Providence, Rhode Island 02906
Priced between Folbot and Feathercraft. One single and one double model
100 Cadillac Drive #117
Sacramento, CA 95825
Toll free: (800)323-3525
North American headquarters for German company that makes a range of foldables.
Oldest kayak manufacturer in the world and a principal supplier to the military
as well as outfitters. Boats are pricey.
PO Box 997
Chula Vista, Ca 91912
North American distributor for a French company that makes a range of folding
kayaks. Excellent quality at a price between Folbot and Klepper.
6155 Mt. Aukum Road
Somerset, CA 95684
German foldables from the former East Germany. Just above Folbot in price.
Wood frames and vinyl type hulls. A single and a double available.
576 South Arlington Avenue
Des Plaines, Illinois 60016
Expensive boats, high performance. These boats have no air sponsons and
can be rolled and sculled like a hardshell. Singles and doubles available.
PO Box 6001
Sitka, Ak 99835
Dealer in folding kayaks for 21 years, offering Klepper, Nautiraid and
Feathercraft. Good source of parts & advice as well as kayaks.
New York Kayak Company
P.O. Box 2011
New York, NY 10011
Offers kayak sales and demos as well as private and group lessons. Sells
Nautiraid and Feathercraft.
Section 6: Hypothermia
Author: Sam Crowley
An excellent source of information on hypothermia is:
What is hypothermia?
Hypothermia is the lowering of the body's core temperature. There are two types
of hypothermia, acute and chronic. Acute hypothermia is the rapid lowering of
the body's core temp. Chronic hypothermia is the slow lowering of the body's
core temp. If the temperature drop occurs in less than 4 hours it is acute,
otherwise it is chronic. Acute hypothermia is also called immersion hypothermia
and typically occurs when a person is in cold water. It is important to note the
difference between the two since treatment will be different. Hypothermia is
considered severe when the body's core temperature drops below 90 degrees F and
mild from normal body temperature to 90 degrees F.
A difference between acute and chronic hypothermia is the severity of something
called afterdrop. This is the continued dropping of the body's core temperature
after the person has been brought to a warm place. Afterdrop complicates
treating severe hypothermia.
Hypothermia is the biggest killer of sea kayakers. Many of its victims are
unprepared for the cold water exposure that induces it. Water conducts heat away
at 20-25 times the rate that air removes heat. This is one reason why an
exposure to cold water at a certain temperature is more traumatic than exposure
to air at the same temperature.
Sometimes a person will not know they are hypothermic since people typically do
not notice it in themselves. It is important for people in a group to keep an
eye on their companions for signs of hypothermia (this includes group leaders
and guides). Sometimes a person will appear physically and mentally okay and
will refuse treatment because they claim they are okay.
Exposure to cold does not automatically induce hypothermia, it typically will
take time to develop unless there is exposure to very cold water or there is no
protection (wetsuit/drysuit) against the cold.
How can one tell if somebody is hypothermic?
It can be difficult to tell if someone is hypothermic without actually measuring
their core temperature. Measuring a persons core temperature in the field
requires a rectal thermometer and is typically not practical. Therefore symptoms
must be relied on. Hypothermia affects people in different ways and no one
symptom is reliable to indicate if a person is hypothermic.
The following lists the body core temperature and its typical signs and
symptoms. Not all hypothermia victims exhibit all of these symptoms, it varies
from person to person. Note symptoms will change as the person's core
signs and symptoms
99 to 97F
(37 to 36C)
Normal temperature range,
Shivering may begin
97 to 95F
(36 to 35C)
Cold sensation, goose bumps, unable to perform complex tasks
with hands, shivering can be mild to severe, skin numb
95 to 93F
(35 to 34C)
Shivering intense, muscle incoordination becomes apparent,
movements slow and labored, stumbling pace, mild confusion,
may appear alert, unable to walk 30 ft. line properly
93 to 90F
(34 to 32C)
Violent shivering persists, difficulty speaking, sluggish
thinking, amnesia starts to appear and may be retrograde,
gross muscle movements sluggish, unable to use hands,
stumbles frequently, difficulty speaking, signs of depression
90 to 86F
(32 to 30C)
Shivering stops in chronic hypothermia, exposed skin blue or
puffy, muscle coordination very poor with inability to walk,
confusion, incoherent, irrational behavior, BUT MAY BE ABLE
TO MAINTAIN POSTURE AND THE APPEARANCE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTACT.
86 to 82F
(30 to 27.7C)
Muscles severely rigid, semiconscious, stupor, loss of
psychological contact, pulse and respiration slow, pupils
82 to 78F
(27 to 25.5C)
Unconsciousness, heart beat and respiration erratic, pulse
and heart beat may be inapparent, muscle tendon reflexes cease
78 to 75F
(25 to 24C)
Pulmonary edema, failure of cardiac and respiratory centers,
probable death, DEATH MAY OCCUR BEFORE THIS LEVEL
Lowest recorded temperature of chronic hypothermia survivor
This table is from a book by Wm. Forgey called _Hypothermia-Death by Exposure_.
Am I hypothermic if I am shivering and/or my hands/feet are cold?
Mild shivering and cold hands/feet does not indicate you are severely
hypothermic. These signs do mean you are losing more heat than you are producing
and your body is adjusting its temperature. Shivering is one way your body
produces heat to warm itself. Cold hands and feet indicate your body is fighting
the cold by reducing the flow of blood to the extremities. Reduced blood flow to
the extremities helps to reduce heat loss and helps maintain the body's core
temperature. Do take these signs as a warning.
Uncontrolled shivering does mean you are hypothermic. A lack of shivering does
not mean you are not hypothermic since a symptom of severe hypothermia (core
temperature less than 90 degrees F) is the lack of shivering.
How is hypothermia treated?
Mild hypothermia where the body core temperature is greater than 90F can be
treated by warming the person up. This can be exercise, replacing of wet
clothing with dry clothing, getting to a warm place, getting the victim out of
the wind, etc. One way of treating hypothermia in the field is to strip the
clothes off of the victim and place them into a sleeping bag with one or two
other stripped people. This provides the victim with a source of heat that will
gradually warm them up. If wet clothing cannot be replaced, cover them with a
layer of non-breathing material such as a rain suit and then cover them with a
dry layer of insulation. Covering them with a rain suit will prevent further
cooling by evaporation and keep the dry layer of insulation from getting wet.
Even though materials such as polypropelene, capilene, polyester fleece, wool,
etc. do insulate when wet, they are not as efficient when compared to dry
clothing. There is heat loss due to evaporation and conduction when these
clothes are wet. Stay away from cotton clothing, cotton kills in cold
environments because it does not insulate when wet.
Severe hypothermia is where the body's core temperature is below 90F. A person
with severe hypothermia needs to get to a hospital as soon as possible. They
should be considered a stretcher case and handled very carefully. Rough handling
can induce an irregular heartbeat that can kill them. If they cannot be taken
right away, then treat them like you would somebody with mild hypothermia. The
one thing that will not help them is exercise because at this stage they have
depleted their energy reserves so much that they cannot even shiver. Exercise
may even kill them by inducing an irregular heartbeart.
A hypothermia victim should not be considered dead unless they are warm and
dead. Even though a hypothermia victim may appear lifeless, get them to an
emergency room as quickly as possible. Their pulse and breathing maybe so
shallow that they cannot be detected.
What is the best defense against hypothermia?
Be prepared. Wear clothing that is appropriate for immersion in the water and
not the air temperature. Eat properly to keep your energy levels up, get enough
rest and drink enough water to maintain proper hydration. Fatigue and
dehydration help to induce hypothermia when exposed to cold. Most kayakers that
get hypothermia did not expect to end up in the water. Be prepared for cold
water immersion when paddling on cold water.
Stay off the water if you are unsure the conditions may exceed your abilities.
This includes your ability to do a self rescue or assist in the rescue of
another paddler. Be aware of the weather forecast and what the weather is
currently doing. A weather forecast is not always 100% accurate.
Remember that extremely cold water can cause your hands to become useless in a
relatively short time (less than 20 minutes) even while properly dressed. This
will complicate operating a pump, pulling on a spray skirt, firing off flares,
radioing for help, etc. This may result in your inability to signal for help, do
a self rescue or assist in your rescue or the rescue of others.
What is vertigo?
Vertigo is not hypothermia but it is related to cold water exposure. Vertigo is
the sudden loss of balance and orientation to one's surroundings.
Vertigo is caused when one ear drum is at a different temperature than the other
and since your inner ear affects your balance, different inner ear temperatures
affect your balance. A vertigo study was done where they would induce vertigo by
injecting cold water into a persons ear. The head position they found that
induced vertigo the most is the position of your head when you are starting your
roll. Vertigo can be prevented by ear plugs and it can be cured by allowing your
inner ears regain equal temperatures which occurs after a few minutes. Vertigo
does not occur in all immersions into cold water.
Vertigo can cause your roll to fail no matter how good it is. Have a backup
rescue method to your roll. If your roll fails, are you prepared to wet exit and
be exposed to cold water?
What is cold shock?
Cold shock is not hypothermia but it is caused by sudden immersion in cold
water. It is an involuntary gasp reflex followed by hyperventilation. These
affect the ability to breath normally and can cause the breathing in of water
that can result in drowning. Typically, there is one gasp reflex. The
hyperventilation can last 10 to 15 minutes. It does not occur in all cold water
Cold shock can complicate a rescue. The gasp reflex can interfere with ones roll
due to the involuntary breathing in of water. The hyperventilation will prevent
a person from holding their breath for very long complicating the ability to do
a reentry and roll. The hyperventilation can also cause panic in some people due
to the inability to breath properly and/or the breathing in of water in rough
Is this information meant to scare me away from cold water?
No, but it is meant to help educate people on the dangers of cold water. This
will hopefully result in the people who do paddle in cold water to realize the
risk they are taking and to take the proper precautions.
Section 7: History
Author: Sam Crowley(historical), Alex Ferguson(modern)
"Many people nowadays are vastly impressed with the greatness of our age, with
all the inventions and the progress of which we daily hear, and which appear
indisputably to exalt the highly-gifted white race far over all others. These
people would learn much by paying close attention to the development of the
Eskimos, and to the tools and inventions by aid of which they obtain the
necessaries of life among natural surroundings which place such pitifully small
means at their disposal."
- Fridtjof Nansen from _Eskimo Life_ published in 1894
What does kayak mean?
Hunters boat. The boats primary purpose was to hunt animals on inland lakes,
rivers and the sea. In many places where the native kayakers lived they had to
turn to the water for food because the land was not fertile enough to support
their population. It was also used for transportation across open water and
rivers. Most but not all kayaks are considered seaworthy.
It was made of seal skins and wood. The wood was driftwood that was collected
off of beaches. Many of the areas where kayaks were paddled are void of the land
based raw materials used in making birchbark canoes or dugout canoes.
Archaeologists have found evidence indicating kayaks to be at least 4000 years
The word kayak appears in literature spelled different ways: kyak, kyack, kaiak,
What does baidarka mean?
It refers to the double and triple kayaks developed by the Alaskan Aleut. It was
used for hunting and transporting those unable to paddle. Some groups considered
it a waste to have the second paddler be a capable paddler. The triples are
considered to have appeared after the Europeans appeared. The Russians are
thought to have forced the Aleut to make a third hole so they could travel along
with them and not have to paddle. The triples were also used to transport
What is an umiak?
An umiak is an open decked boat made with seal skins and wood. It was paddled
with single bladed paddles and typically had more than one paddler. It ranged in
size from 17 feet to 60 feet. The umiak was typically seaworthy.
Some groups lived nomadically to follow animal migrations. In these groups, the
umiak was used primarily for transporting household goods, children, elderly and
those unable to paddle a kayak. The women of the village would paddle the umiak
since the men were paddling their kayaks. In other groups it was used for
hunting walrus and whale. It was paddled by men and sometimes women during these
It is thought the kayak originally started out as a decked over umiak and
evolved into its traditional form.
It is also called a baydar.
Sometimes the umiak was used to hunt together with the kayaks.
Did all native kayaking groups use the two bladed paddle?
No. Some groups used the two bladed paddle exclusively and some groups used the
one bladed paddle exclusively. It many times depended on the boats design. Some
groups that used two bladed paddles also kept one or two one bladed paddles with
them to use for stealthier paddling when hunting or for use as a spare.
There were groups that used the single bladed paddle to roll.
Did all native kayakers know how to roll?
No. The Greenland Inuits and the Alaskan Aleuts were well known for their rolls
but not all native kayakers knew how to roll or needed a roll.
The Greenlanders were the masters of the roll. Their narrow boats, the
conditions they paddled in and unexpected complications during hunting required
them to develop numerous different rolls. In addition to the typical rolling
with a paddle, numerous "trick" rolls were known such as rolling with the paddle
held by one hand, using a harpoon shaft or using just an open or closed hand.
The reasons for this is during a hunt the harpoon line could tangle and upset
the boat or an injured animal sometimes attacked the hunter. In either case if
the hunter is holding something he does not want to drop (like a knife) or the
paddle is temporarily stowed, he had to use these rolls. The Greenlanders also
used the bow rescue described below.
Some native kayakers used several different methods instead of a roll. One is
the bow rescue where a paddling partners bow is used to pull one self up. This
technique relied heavily on somebody being close by. In another technique the
paddler pulled themselves into the boat and breathed the air inside the boat
until somebody showed up and a bow rescue could be performed. This technique
required a boat one could crawl into and someone showing up before the oxygen
inside the boat was used up. Certain groups added ballast to their boats to make
them stable, the weight varied from 50-100 pounds.
How were kayaks made?
Driftwood would be collected from beaches. The wood would be formed using the
tools they had. Tools would have been chipped or ground out of stone, such as
obsidian, chert, quartz, or slate; carved from antler, ivory, wood, or bone; or
cold-hammered out of meteoric iron or native copper. Wood used was typically
fir, pine, spruce and willow. The addition of iron-based tools did decrease the
amount of time spent building a kayak since iron does not dull as quickly as
traditional materials. Historians are not in agreement if iron improved the
quality of the kayak or not. Peterson, in _Skinboats of Greenland_, presents
some information that it did.
Seal skins would then be sewn onto a complete frame. Typical skin used was from
the bearded seal but some groups did use the sea lion, caribou and walrus skins.
The hair was removed from the skins. The skins were treated with oil for
waterproofness. Oil typically had to be applied every 4-8 days depending on the
skin used. Care was taken that when a boat was in daily use, that it was removed
from the water and allowed to dry once a day.
Sinew was used to lash the frame and sew the skins. The seam on the skins was
waterproof because the stitches did not completely pass through the skin.
What is the difference between a modern kayak and a traditional kayak?
There are obvious differences in the materials used. In addition a modern rigid
kayak typically has several added safety features such as bulkheads and hatches.
Skegs and rudders appeared on some traditional kayaks but the design was thought
to be influenced by western cultures. Most of the features used in modern hull
designs can be found in traditional kayak hull designs. The modern skin boat is
very similar to a traditional kayak although the modern day skin used is
typically waterproofed canvas.
It is important to realize the significant change in the boats use from
traditional use to modern use. No longer is the boat used for hunting but
instead for recreation. This represents a fundamental change that has affected
the boat design and its equipment.
Where did the native kayakers live?
In the arctic of North America from the Aleutian Islands to the East coast of
Greenland. This included southern Siberia, the Bering Strait and Northern
Canada. Some groups were nomadic and were constantly searching for better
hunting grounds. Other groups were not nomadic and lived year round in the same
location. Some locations had only 90 days a year for open water and other
locations had open water year round.
Were all the boat designs the same?
No, the designs were specialized for the local conditions and needs of the
hunters. Some areas had exposed coasts and other areas were relatively
protected. Some groups had to transport their kayaks over a long distance to the
water and other groups were right next to the water. Transporting the dead
animals back to the village was a problem solved in different ways by hunters in
One historian breaks seagoing kayak designs into five basic forms with minor
changes for local conditions. The different designs are found in Greenland,
Baffin Island, the Bering Strait south to the Aleutians, southeastern Siberia
and the Aleutian islands.
What did they wear?
They used jackets made from skins which were typically waterproof. The wrists
and face openings were drawn tight for waterproofness. The waist fit tightly
around the cockpit coaming. These formed watertight seals so water did not enter
while performing a roll or punching through waves. The jacket used by the
Greenlanders helped provide buoyancy when sculling. On warm days they used the
equivalent of a spray skirt instead of the jacket. They used mittens made of
skin to keep their hands warm. Some groups wore hats with a large brim for
protection from the sun and salt spray.
What animals were hunted?
Caribou on the inland waters and virtually any sea mammal at sea. The sea
mammals included the seal, sea otter, walrus and whale. Fish such as halibut and
assorted birds were also hunted. All the groups did not hunt all of these
animals. Some groups avoided hunting certain animals for practical and/or
How did they get the animals back to the village?
It depended on the type of kayak used. Some groups would carry the animal on top
of their deck. This method required a boat with a large volume so it could
handle a 150+ pound animal (typically seal) on top of it. Another method was to
land and butcher the animal on shore and stuff the butchered meat into the boat.
This method relied on there being enough volume inside the boat for the meat. A
gaff hook was used to retrieve the meat since they did not have any hatches.
Another method was to tow the animal. Since a freshly killed animal would sink,
air would be blown into the animal and a wooden stopper used as a plug or an air
bladder would be tied to the animal. They would be tied along side the boat.
Floats were used so the dead animal could be cast loose and later recovered in
case another animal was spotted or the sea conditions became too rough. In the
case of birds or fish, they were often carried under deck lines and fish were
sometimes towed after being killed.
What hunting tools were used?
A harpoon was used together with a rope and an air bladder. The harpoon tip is
attached to the air bladder with the rope. The harpoon tip was detachable from
the harpoon shaft to allow the animal to thrash about and not break the shaft.
The rope was typically made of seal skin. The rope would be coiled on the front
deck and allowed to play out once an animal was harpooned.
A javelin was also used and is similar to the harpoon. The difference is the tip
and air bladder stay attached to the shaft with rope.
The harpoon used a larger air bladder than a javelin which allowed larger
marine animals to be hunted. The harpoons air bladders also were used for adding
floatation to the kayak in case of puncture or water leakage. They were
sometimes used in rescues.
A lance was used to kill an animal that was close by.
A knife was carried to kill a wounded animal or to prepare it to be taken in to
Bird darts were spears with three or four forward slanted spikes. The spikes
allowed a bird to be brought down if the spear tip did not penetrate the bird
and instead slid along its body.
A throwing stick (sometimes referred to as a throwing board or an atlatl) was
used to boost the range of a spear or harpoon.
A white blind was used by some hunters to camouflage their upper bodies so they
could sneak up on resting seals.
All these could be carried on the deck and ready for immediate use. The deck
lines were skin with toggles and bone used to fasten items.
Bows and arrows typically were not used. The reasons for this is the difficulty
of handling one in a kayak and water would cause the bow string to stretch
rendering the bow useless.
Was kayak hunting dangerous?
Some times a wounded animal wound attack the kayak. Walrus and whales were
especially dangerous when injured. Some times a walrus would attack a kayak even
if the kayak was not hunting it. Sometimes the harpoon line would tangle and
upset the kayak.
It is important to remember these people had no thermal protection against the
cold waters when they wet exited since there was no equivalent to the wetsuit or
drysuit (although in Greenland there was an equivalent to the modern drysuit but
that was only used by Umiak crews hunting whales). The water temperature they
paddled in could be as low as 27 degrees F since saltwater has a lower freezing
point than freshwater. Glaciers helped to lower the water temperature by calving
icebergs into the water. To wet exit the boat was considered suicide by many
groups. Also, there was no equivalent to the modern PFD.
In South Greenland in 1888 there were 162 deaths. 90 were males and 24 of the
males died while kayaking. In 1889, there were 272 deaths. 152 were male and 24
died while kayaking. The population consisted of 5614 of which there were 2591
What happened to the kayaking cultures?
As with most native cultures, outside cultural influences changed the native
culture and the peoples need for kayaking. Manufactured goods slowly replaced
the traditional materials. Lumber instead of driftwood for the boat frames, iron
for the spear tips, the gun replaced the hunting tools, and eventually the power
boat replaced the kayak. In some cases the depletion of the local animals due to
overhunting caused a decline in kayaking.
Today traditional kayaking is kept alive by schools run in Greenland and the
Aleutian Islands. Much of the traditional kayaking technology and skills have
been lost. Some boat designs survive only in drawings made by early explorers
that did not have any dimensions. Many kayaks stored in museums were improperly
stored and have been unintentionally destroyed. All this makes comparison of the
modern kayak and its equipment against the traditional kayak and its equipment
difficult or impossible.
What is the history of the development of the modern kayaks?
The modern sea kayaks can trace their ancestry via two paths. The first type are
those kayaks that are close copies of the Southwest Greenland kayaks.
In the summer of 1959, Ken Taylor made a private one-man expedition to Western
Greenland and brought a kayak back to Scotland. This particular kayak excited
special interest because it was a more moderate example of the West Greenland
This kayak has been copied a number of times, most noted being the kayak built
by Geoff Blackford in 1971. Blackford redesigned the boat to fit his own
particular dimensions, retaining the upturned stern, and ending up with a
plywood model 17 ft (5.2 m) long with a 21 in. (533 mm) beam. In all other
respects the craft was identical to Ken Taylor's boat.
Blackford's craft was used as the plug for a fiberglass mould and eventually
found its way to Frank Goodman of Valley Products who went into commercial
production under the name 'Anas Acuta'.
A noted British mountaineer and exponent of outdoor education, Colin Mortlock,
proposed an expedition along the Arctic fiords of Norway to Nordkapp, the
northern-most cape of Europe. Mortlock and his team paddled the Anas Acuta
kayaks around the Isle of Skye but believed that a new sort of boat would be
needed, one that could take huge quantities of supplies without losing too much
manoeuvreability and seaworthiness.
Eventually Frank Goodman came up with a kayak design, having a basis in the West
Greenland kayaks, but incorporating elements of standard boat design, with a
round bilge capable of the extra payload required, and the 'Nordkapp' was born.
Many modern boats can trace their design lineage from this root.
The second line of descent for modern kayaks is that of the 'Rob Roy' kayaks.
The McGregor "canoe" was built in 1865 to resemble what John McGregor thought he
had seen when looking at sketches of Eskimo kayaks. In shape and size it is
fairly similar to a Coaster. The Kleppers were also of a similar style. Many of
the kayaks designed in the Pacific Northwest of North America have their roots
in this basic shape.
If the designs of the Greenland and Alaskan kayaks are studied, it is obvious
that there are a wide range of designs. Each has evolved as suitable for the
region that it comes from. From this one can see why some designs are popular in
one region and not in another, the Nordkapp style in Britain and New Zealand and
the beamier, flatter boats in northwestern North America. Even in a country as
small as New Zealand there can be regional preferences, a highly rockered boat
in the north and flatter, lower windage boats in the South Island, for example.
Wood and wood/fabric were common up until 1950's when fiberglass was introduced.
This was followed by plastic in 1984, the Chinook being the first of the
Section 8: Controversial Topics
First a disclaimer: Your FAQ editor is completely un-opinionated. Do not argue
with him about these topics. Fill each other's email boxes, use the newsgroup,
these are INTENDED TO PROMOTE DISCUSSION. However, if you have other topics that
you feel belong in this section, let me know.
Some will argue that a good boat does not need a rudder, that they are subject
to breakage and you should not learn to use them as a crutch. Often these are
the same people who put skegs on their boats because they are difficult to make
go straight in certain sea conditions.
Others will argue that a rudder is a tool that improves the safety and
convenience of a boat, and not having one is pig-headed and blind to the utility
of the device. They do admit, though, that the rudder had better be well
constructed and durable.
A roll is an excellent self-rescue tool, and a good first line of defence to an
accidental tip. It does not absolve you from needing to learn other means of
self-rescue, because in sea kayaking whatever tipped you over (big waves, high
winds, fatigue) is still there when you try to roll, and if it was bad enough to
tip you over in the first place, it may make your roll fail as well.
British boat mystique
The Brit boats (exemplified by Frank Goodman's Nordkapp and Derek Hutchinson's
Baidarka Explorer) have a certain mystique among sea kayakers. They are designs
proven in rough seas and long expeditions, and they have a number of features
like built in bilge pumps, waterproof hatches and bulkheads, and recessed deck
line fittings that were safety innovations when they were first introduced.
They are tippy, have small hatches and small cockpits, no rudders (see #1
above), and a cadre of devoted paddlers who seem to the unwashed masses to look
down on other, lesser boats (gross generalization alert!) Be cautious of being
talked into a boat you may not like by an enthusiast who will assure you that
this is an 'expert' boat that you will have to 'grow into'. Some are also
quite old designs that may not perform as well as some newer boats.
There is a definite character to British-designed boats, born from the
personalities that designed and built them, and the seas they were meant to be
used on. Choose wisely and well.
Section 9: References
Many of these references can be purchased online from:
The Adventurous Traveller Bookstore
Equipment, Techniques, and Instruction
British Canoe Union Instructor's manual
Burch, David. Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation. Seattle: Pacific Search Press,
Diaz, Ralph. The Complete Folding Kayaker. McGraw-Hill (Ragged Mountain Press)
Dowd, John. Sea Kayaking-A Manual for Long-Distance Touring. Seattle:
University of Washington Press, 1988.
Foster, Nigel. Sea Kayaking, 1991
Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9AJ
Foster, Nigel. Canoeing: A Beginner's Guide to the Kayak
Harrison, David. Sea Kayaking Basics. Hearst Marine Books, 1993.
Hutchinson, Derek. Derek C. Hutchinson's Guide to Sea Kayaking. Seattle:
Pacific Search Press, 1985.
Hutchinson, Derek. Sea Canoeing. 3rd ed. London: A. & C. Black (Publishers)
Hutchinson, Derek. Eskimo Rolling. Camden, ME: Ragged Mountain Press, 1992.
Jeffs, Howard. Practical Guide to Sea Kayaking.
Petersen, H. C. Instruction in Kayak Building. Roskilde, Denmark:
Greenland Provincial Museum and Viking Ship Museum, 1982.
Price, Brian _Fundamentals Of Coastal Kayaking Manual for Instructors_
American Canoe Association National Coastal Kayaking Commitee, 1989
Ramwell, J.J. Sea Touring. Huntingdon, Cambs.: John J. Ramwell, 1976.
Sanders, Williams. Kayak Touring. Stackpole Books, 1984.
Seidman, D. The Essential Sea Kayaker. Camden, ME: Ragged Mountain Press, 1992.
Washburne, Randel. Coastal Kayaking Manual.
Brower, Kenneth. The Starship and the Canoe. Harper & Row, 1978.
Caffyn, Paul. Cresting the Restless Waves-North Island Kayak Odyssey.
Wellington, NZ: New Zealand Canoeing Association and Paul Caffyn, 1987.
Caffyn, Paul. Dark Side of the Wave-Stewart Island Kayak Odyssey.
Wellington, NZ: New Zealand Canoeing Association, 1987.
Caffyn, Paul. Dreamtime Voyage. RD 1, Runanga, Westland, NZ:
Kayak Dundee Press, 1994.
Caffyn, Paul. Obscured by Waves-South Island Canoe Odyssey. Dunedin, NZ:
John Mcindoe, 1979.
Goddard, John M. Kayaks Down the Nile. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University
Lindemann, Hannes. Alone At Sea. Pollner Verlag, 1993.
Lloyd-Jones, R. Argonauts of the Western Isles, Sea Kayaking off Scotland's
Nordby, Will. Seekers of the Horizon: Sea Kayaking Voyages From Around the
World. Globe Pequot Press, 1989.
Phillips, C.E. Lucas. Cockleshell Heroes. Weyman & Sons, 1957.
Rice, Larry. Gathering Paradise: Alaska Wilderness Journeys. Fulcrum Publishing,
Rogers, Joel. The Hidden Coast. Alaska Northwest Books, 1991.
Taylor, B. Commitment and Open Crossing.
Theroux, Paul. The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific. Putnam, 1992.
Wilson, B. Blazing Paddles.
Adney, Edward, & Howard Chapelle. The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North
America. Washington D.C.; Smithsonian Institution, 1964.
Altenhofer, Ursula and Christian. Der Handernkahn. Pollner Verlag, 1989.
Arima, Eugene Y. Inuit Kayaks in Canada: A Review of Historical Records and
Construction. Ottawa National Museums of Canada, 1987.
Brand, John. The Little Kayak Book-Museum Kayaks: Five Surveys with some
details of equipment; History of each as far as it is known. Colchester,
Essex: John Brand, 1984.
Chapman, Spencer. Northern Lights. London: Chatto and Windus, 1932.
Chapman, Spencer. Watkins' Last Expedition. London: Chatto and Windus, 1934.
Dyson, George. Baidarka. Edmonds, WA: Alaska Northwest Publishing Company,
Kissner, Jack. Foldboat Holidays. Creative Holiday Guides, 1945.
Nansen, Fridtjof. Eskimo Life. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1893.
Nansen, Fridtjof. Farthest North, Two vols. London: Georege Newnes, Ltd.,
Nansen, Fridtjof. The First Crossing of Greenland. London: Longmans, Green
and Co., 1892.
Peterson, H. C. Skinboats of Greenland. Roskilde, Denmark:
Greenland Provincial Museum and Viking Ship Museum, 1986.
Zimmerly, David W. Hooper Bay Kayak Construction. Ottawa: National Museums
of Canada, 1979.
Zimmerly, David W. QAJAQ-Kayaks of Siberia and Alaska. Juneau, AK: Division
of State Museums, 1986.
Ince, John and Kottner, Hedi. Sea Kayaking Canada's West Coast. Raxas Books,
Jettmar, Karen. The Alaska River Guide. Alaska Northwest Books, 1993.
Venn, Tamsin. Sea Kayaking Along the New England Coast. Appalachian Mountain
Washburne, Randel. Kayak Trips in Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. The
Washburne, Randel. The Coastal Kayaker: Kayak Camping on the Alaska and B.C.
Coast. Globe Pequot Press, 1983.
Anderson, Bob. Stretching. Bolinas, CA: Shelter Publications, 1991.
Bascom, Willard. Waves and Beaches. Doubleday, 1980.
Daniel, Linda. Kayak Cookery-A Handbook of Provisions and Recipes. Seattle:
Pacific Search Press, 1986.
Forgey, Wm. Wilderness Medicine. ICS Books, Inc., Merrilville, IN: 1987.
Forgey, Wm. Hypothermia-Death by Exposure. ICS Books, Inc., Merrilville, IN:
Ilg, Steve. The Outdoor Athlete. Evergreen, CO: Cordillera Press, 1989.
Roberts, Harry. Movin' Out. Stone Wall Press, 1979.
Trefil, James. A Scientist at the Seashore. Collier Books, 1984.
Tricker, R.A.R. Bores, Breakers, Waves and Wakes. London: Mills & Boon, 1964.
Wilkerson, James, ed. Hypothermia, Frostbite and Other Cold Injuries, Seattle:
The Mountaineers, 1986.
Wilkerson, James. Medicine for Mountaineering, 4th ed. Seattle: The
Williams, Margaret. The Boater's Weather Guide. Cornell Maritime Press, 1990.
34 East Queens Way
Hampton, VA 23669
Atlantic Coastal Kayaker
Ipswich MA 01938
Canoe and Kayak
P.O. Box 3146
Kirkland, WA 98083
Folding Kayaker newsletter
PO Box 0754
New York, NY 10024
author of the folding kayak portion of the FAQ; he will respond to all
e-mail, phone calls and snail mail
4061 Oceanside Blvd., Suite M
Oceanside, CA 92056
PO Box 17170
Seattle, WA 98107-0870
Greenlanders at Kodiak (John Heath) 38min
Demonstration of Greenland roll techniques
Qajaq Klubben (John Heath), 80min
Video from a kayak club in Greenland, showing Greenland paddling and
roll techniques. Energetic and fascinating, but narrated in Greenlandic!
John Heath's videos can be obtained from him at:
5403 County Road 4
Damon, TX 77430
Palos Brudefaerd (sp), Bob Boucher
Build Your Own Sea Kayak! (Bob Boucher)
On building a West Greenland style skin and frame kayak
Over and Out! - sea kayak rescues
What next? - sea kayak rescues
Performance Sea Kayaking. The basics and beyond. (Kent Ford)
Sea Kayaking: Getting Started
Section 10: Associations, Clubs, Manufacturers, Outfitters, Shops
For an extensive listing of canoe and kayak websites, see:
American Canoe Association
The United States governing body of paddlesport, the ACA offers event
sanctioning, instructor certification, and liability insurance.
7432 Alban Station Blvd. Suite B-226
Springfield, VA 22150
WWW URL: www.aca-paddler.org
N.A.W.T.C.- - North American Water Trails Conference
There is some exciting news for paddlers in seeking places to paddle. An
outgrowth of the first international conference held in the Fall of 93 on
the Hudson River, the concept of a continent wide system of water trails is
rapidly moving forward to the reality stage.
The NAWTC is a coalition of private, non-profit, and public
benefit organizations and agencies, who share a common desire;
to build a truly contiguous North American Water Trail system for the
boating public and promoting Ecotourism (a balance of resource
protection, recreational access and user responsibility).
NAWTC is truly national in scope as can be seen by its volunteer officers:
President: David Getchell,Sr. - Maine Island Trail Association,
Vice-President: Franz Gimmler - Chesapeake Water Trail,
Secretary: Sandie Nelson - Washington State Water Trails,
Treasurer: Craig Poole - Hudson River Waterway Association.
Some of these areas already have detailed printed guides to paddling on
their trails such as The Maine Island Trail and the Hudson Waterway's
Paddlers Guide, both of which detail launching spots, camping possibilities
and advice on local conditions and safety concerns.
To request more information or be added to the NAWTC E-mail list send your
request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Official address is:
North American Water Trails Conference, NAWTC
c/o David Getchell, Sr.
RR 1, Box 3355
Appleton, Me. 04862
Trade Association of Sea Kayaking
An association of outfitters, manufacturers, schools, and shops which promotes
sea kayaking interests and sponsers symposia.
12455 North Wauwatosa Road
Mequon, WI 53097
WWW URL: http://www.viewit.com/wtr/TASK.html
California Kayak Friends
$20 per household
About 500 members, monthly newsletter, day and camping trips,
library, videos, other goodies.
Our Fearless Leader:
Len Goodman (818)885-6182
California Kayak Friends
14252 Culver Drive #A199
Irvine, CA 92714
Chicago Area Sea Kayaking Association (CASKA)
$15 per household
Over 150 members, bimonthly newsletter.
Chicagoland Canoe Base, (773)777-1489
Florida Sea Kayaking Association
$15 individual, $20 family.
Over 200 members, bimonthly newsletter, day and camping trips.
Chapters in many parts of the state. Kayaking clinics (kayaking 101,
rescues, rolling, surfing, bracing, Greenland techniques, and others).
626 45th Avenue South,
St. Petersburg, FL
Great Lakes Sea Kayak Club
May, August, and Gales of November rendezvous
Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium
Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association
$10 per year
150 members, 8 newsletters a year.
Rita Dodd: email@example.com
Prairie Coast Paddlers
$15 individual, $15 family.
Young club, great opportunity to become involved early. Trips to many
places in the Great Lakes. Instruction.
Todd Leigh (847)576-9026
Prairie Coast Paddlers, c/o Dan Leigh
3205 St. James St.
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
San Francisco Bay Area Sea Kayaking Kayakers (BASK)
Monthly meetings, newsletter, trips, clinics.
10124 McDonald Park Rd.
Canada V8L 3X9
Dagger Canoe Company
P.O. Box 1500
Harriman, TN 27748
Easy Rider Canoe & Kayak Co.
15666 W. Valley Hwy.
P.O. Box 88108
Seattle, WA 98138
1344 Ashten Road
Burlington, WA 98233
Georgian Bay Kayak Ltd.
231 Gordon Drive
Canada, L9M 1Y2
An interesting point of view on kayak safety and information on attachable
sponsons, which this company sells.
3645 NW 67th St.
Miami, FL 33147
Northwest Kayaks Inc.
15145 NE 90th Street
Redmond, WA 98052
Old Town Canoe Co.
58 Middle Street
Old Town, ME 04468
111 Kayaker Way
P.O. Box 8002
Easley, SC 29641
Wildwasser Sport USA, Inc.
P.O. Box 4617
Boulder, CO 80306
P.O. Box 997
Chula Vista, CA 91912
Instructional school offering: Beginner Courses, One Day Trips,
Half Day Trips, Rolling Clinics, Private Lessons, and Tours.
ACA Certified Instructors.
Adventure Challenge, Richmond VA
phone: (804) 276-7600
fax: (804) 276-9750
Folding Kayak Adventures
We rent folding sea kayaks to experienced kayakers originating their trips
anywhere in the USA.
phone: (206) 522-8249
Great Canadian Ecoventures
Our little company offers a rather unique service in the Canadian Northwest
Territories - the provision of canoe rentals & logistical support in extreme
remote areas for independent experienced canoeists. We will also have kayaks
available in select areas by 1998
Monterey Bay Kayaks
Natural History Tours of both Monterey Bay and Elkhorn Slough;
Rentals of open and closed deck kayaks;
Classes including: Open Deck Classes, Basic Skills (in closed deck boats),
Navigation, Eskimo Rolling, Surf Skills, Stroke Clinic, and Advanced Rescue.
Our instructors are ACA certified and private lessons are available.
Monterey Bay Kayaks
693 Del Monte Avenue
Monterey, CA 93940
Naturally Superior Adventures
We operate an outfitting/guiding company located on Lake Superior
between Pukaskwa national and Lake Superior Provincial Parks.
Naturally Superior Adventures
RR #1, Lake Superior, Wawa,
Ontario, P0S 1K0
The Northwest Passage
Basic to Intermediate paddling instruction certification on the Great Lakes
and in Chicagoland. Free introductory sea kayak clinic, wilderness first
aid certification courses, and multi-day trips to the Greek Islands,
Canadian Arctic, Belize, Apostle Islands, and Door County, Wisconsin.
The Nortwest Passage
1130 Greenleaf Ave.
Wilmette, IL 60091
Sea Kayak Italia - Elba Island
Offering 11-day sea kayaking adventures on Elba Island, Tuscany, Italy. The
Elba Sea Kayak Center offers these trips in the Mediterranean in the spring
and fall. Each trip is limited to 8 people.
Great River Outfitters
We import and distribute high quality British boats and gear.
Our retail store in Michigan carries a very extensive inventory of sea
and whitewater kayaks and accessories. We carry the widest selection of
specialized sea kayaking products in the U.S. Mail orders welcome.
We offer BCU sanctioned sea kayak courses in our capacity as a Nordkapp
Trust Sea Kayak Center.
Great River Outfitters, Inc.
4180 Elizabeth Lake Rd.
Waterford, MI 48328
2134 Westlake Ave. North
Seattle, WA 98109
The Northwest Outdoor Center
Kayaks, paddling gear, classes, rentals, and tours.
Over 100 kayaks available to rent & demo right from their docks on
2100 Westlake Ave. North
Seattle, WA 98109
Toll Free in the US: (800)683-0637
Ocean River Sports
Kayaks, paddling gear, classes, rentals, and tours.
1437 Store St.
Canada V8W 3J6
Toll Free: (800)909-4233
Pacific Water Sports
16055 Pacific Hwy. South
Seattle, WA 98188
The Small Boat Shop
A large selection of canoes, kayaks, rowing shells, dinghies, whitewater
kayaks, and sea kayaks.
ACA Certified kayaking courses in indoor pool.
On site demos.
Beginner tours at certain times.
The SmallBoat Shop
144 Water St., Norwalk CT 06854
Phone: (203) 854-5223
Section 11: Places to Paddle
Getting there: From Atlanta, I-75 south to Naples, FL. US 41 from Naples to the
Everglades City junction. Follow signs into town and on to the ranger station.
Features: Open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and mangrove and cypress swamps,
the 'river of grass'. Warm weather and wildlife. Bugs and alligators. Fishing.
Best time to visit: Winter, the closer to the solstice, the better. Summer is
Gulf Coast Ranger Station,
Everglades City, FL 33929,
In the Great Lakes:
Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior (Houghton, MI)
Apostle Islands National Lake Shore, Lake Superior (Bayfield, WI)
Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore, Lake Superior (Munising, MI)
Door County and the Grand Traverse Island group, Lake Michigan (N. of Green Bay,
WI or E. of Escanaba, MI)
Porcupine Mountains State Park, Lake Superior (N. of Ironwood, MI)
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Manitou Islands, Lake Michigan
(Traverse City, MI)
the Beaver Island Group, Lake Michigan (Charlevoix, MI)
Wilderness State Park, Lake Michigan (Mackinac, MI)
The St.Mary River between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan (Sault Ste. Marie, MI)
Georgian Bay, Lake Huron
Lake Superior North Shore, Pukasawa and the Black Bay Islands.
The Bass Island group in Lake Erie.