Summer’s here and it’s time to buy a craft to enjoy the joys of sailing whenever you feel like it. If you’re looking at canoes and kayaks, there’s a wide choice to pick from. It’s difficult to know where to start when you’re buying for the first time. Canoe or kayak? Inflatable or hard shell? Sea or river? We’ll help you ask the right questions to ensure you choose the best kayak for your needs.
CHOOSE YOUR KAYAK ON THE BASIS OF WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING TO DO WITH IT
STABILITY FOR BEGINNERS
If you’re keen to discover the sport of kayaking or want to enjoy pleasant sailing alongside beaches, go for a short, wide craft that will be more stable and easier to handle.
PERFORMANCE FOR EXPERIENCED KAYAKERS
For more intensive kayaking such as distance paddling, it’s better to choose a sea kayak as its sleeker shape will help you glide through the sea more easily thus reducing the amount of effort on your part. N.B. These narrower kayaks are less stable so sailing experience is required!
If you only want to go kayaking at sea pay attention to the characteristics of your kayak, as unlike when descending a river, you won’t always have the current to push you.
You’ll even have the current and/or the wind against you half of the time! That’s why sea kayakers often start out facing into the wind or the tide to reduce the amount of effort required on the way back if the wind picks up during the day.
Lastly, before you set off to sea, ensure your kayak and accompanying gear are fully compliant with regulations for sailing at sea.
KAYAKS VARY IN THE NUMBER OF PLACES: SINGLE SEAT, TANDEM OR MORE
Kayaks come in different sizes: single seat, tandem or for three people (2 adults 1 child) on some models. Although family kayaking is great fun, this type of boat can nevertheless prove to be less pleasant to use afterwards, as it’s heavier and difficult to handle.
You haven’t got any children? In that case, you can opt for a tandem kayak or two individual kayaks and you’ll probably enjoy yourselves more and find sailing alone easier while being side by side. Single seat kayaks generally glide better.
CHOOSING THE MATERIAL OF YOUR KAYAK
Inflatable kayaks are lighter than polyethylene ones and, above all, easier to store once folded up in their cover. They need to be rinsed after every outing before before left to dry in a suitable manner.
Polyethylene kayaks are amazingly hard-wearing and last much longer than other types of kayak. However, they are also much heavier. They’re not more difficult to look after - you’ll just need to have a roof rack and suitable straps to carry them safely as well as a good place for storing them. Give it a think!
Lastly, fibreglass kayaks are designed for performance. They’re light but fragile and need to be looked after very carefully and on a regular basis.
Have you found the kayak you need? Remember to choose the right gear and paddle before taking to the water.
Have a great time kayaking!