LEARNING TO PADDLE
Kayaking is an intricate dance of strokes, maneuvers and balance between person, boat and paddle. Although it requires a certain degree of arm and core strength, it’s a sport that almost anyone can master with a bit of practice.
Before entering the water, it’s helpful to know a few things. REI has a number of kayaking resources that can help paddlers of all skill levels, while Discovery and Livestrong offer kayaking tips for beginners. And after years of watching kayakers traverse Lake Union, Meyer has some suggestions for anyone kayaking in Seattle.
1. DRESS FOR THE WATER, NOT THE WEATHER.
Although appropriate clothing choices depend on the location, take into consideration the water temperature rather than the air temperature. If your kayak tips over, you’ll learn very quickly how important it is to plan for water temperature. Layers of quick-dry clothing are ideal, and hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are highly recommended. For footwear, wear sturdy, strap-on sandals or water shoes. If you don’t know where to start, Sierra Trading Post has some excellent kayaking gear resources.
2. SELECT A BOAT APPROPRIATE FOR YOUR KAYAKING EXPERIENCE.
NWOC offers high-quality vessels of different sizes, including one-, two- or three-person sea kayaks that average 14’ to 17’ ‘in length. And the differentiation is for a good reason.
“It’s way more fun if you have a decent boat for what you’re doing,” Meyer said.
Once you’ve chosen the right boat, customers can easily paddle around Lake Union, checking out Space Needle views near the Wooden Boat Center or catching a glimpse of Gas Works Park to the north. Some kayakers choose to head west toward Puget Sound through the Lake Washington Ship Canal, or east through Portage Bay to the Arboretum.
3. KNOW HOW TO RESCUE YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
Capsizing is unlikely on the calm (and relatively warm!) waters of the Catawba River. That said, it’s best to be prepared. Rockin River staff members provide safety and rescue gear such life jackets, safety whistle and paddle. If you happen to fall out, calmly grab the opposite side of the kayak and pull yourself up and across on to the kayak.