Before I begin this week’s column, I need to pay homage to my dear friends at Webb Weekly. I recently received a notification on LinkedIn saying I have been scribing part-time for the past fourteen years. I must say that I am very proud to be associated with this great organization. I would also like to thank Jim & Michelle Webb and Erik & Steph Nordstrom for their donations to the March of Dimes in my son’s name. Much love guys…
I purchased my first kayak a few years back, and I am so very glad I did. I definitely needed something smaller than the family’s Old Town canoe. My little boat fits great, and I am starting to use it more and more. It’s so lightweight, and I no longer need any assistance getting her on and off the car. It’s my personal Edmond Fitzgerald. The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down. Gordon Lightfoot.
Kayaking is very beneficial to both the mind and body. It provides a great exercise and another way to enjoy the spectacular scenery of our splendid waterways. From a distance, kayaking seems rather simple. True, but I will say that it is a tad more technical than handling a canoe.
OK, folks. There is no need to buy a kayak before you actually try it. Paddling isn’t for everyone, and I highly recommend that you borrow a buddy’s boat first. A chum of mine on Washington Blvd. even rents them. I would drop a name, but I didn’t get his permission before we went to print. Cupp’s Vacuums. 570.326.6161.
While your friends will be able to get you out on the water, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually teach you the proper technique. Many rookies develop bad habits that strain their neck, back and tire their arms. This eventually leaves them discouraged, and they quit.
A decent understanding of the basic stroke will ensure your experiences in a kayak go rather smoothly. It’s important to know that the best paddlers use the least amount of energy. Sit up straight and face forward. Keep those hands and wrists in line with your arms. Lightly grip the paddle.
It may seem natural to use just your arms, but the core is much stronger and will help you last a lot longer. Rotate your torso from left to right instead, making sure your back is pressed against the seat at all times. Sitting forward will not only shift your center, but it will also cause you to use more energy.
To make a stroke, rotate your body to the right while reaching forward with the left side of the paddle. Simply dip the blade into the water and pull back firmly while rotating your torso. Remember not to lean forward. When the left blade exits- the right should enter the water on the opposite side of the kayak. Pull back firmly and repeat the process. It’s working E.T. It’s working!
It’s best to get started on a quiet lake or lazy river. I highly recommend Rose Valley in the 17728. Most streams and creeks can overwhelm those new to kayaking. Battling the current and avoiding snags shouldn’t be done the first time out. Once you think you are ready-plan a group outing down the Susquehanna River or Big Pine. Coordinating with a few friends makes the put in and take out rather easy.
Be sure to pack plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, an emergency whistle, and extra layers of clothing. A waterproof drybag is highly recommended and will come in handy if you plan to take your cell phone or camera. Have dry clothes available — especially in the early spring. I always keep a change of clothes inside the car just in case.
The most important piece of equipment on any kayaking trip is your Personal Flotation Device. There are several different types of PFDs, but a Type III is the only way to go. You should look for a vest that is comfortable, fits well but not too tightly and helps you stay afloat. It is required that every kayaker has a PFD in their boat.
Give a hoot. Don’t pollute. Enjoy the outdoors and leave no trace. Hopefully, this write up will get you on the water soon. Fish on. Cheers.