Douglass Gray, owner of Billington Sea Kayak in Plymouth, Mass., advises people to try out a boat in the water before buying it. “Putting you in a boat on the showroom floor is OK if you plan to paddle around the living room, but it’s not the real world.”
Beach season is drawing to a close, but there’s still time to grab a kayak and get out on the water. In fact, kayaking enthusiasts say that part of the appeal of the lightweight boats is that they are perfect for exploring shorelines in the spring and fall, not only in the summer months.
“Just wear layers,” said Nancy Monahan, owner of Monahan Marine in Weymouth, Mass.
Before buying a kayak, try out a few models. They cost anywhere from $400 to $4,000, so it pays to take them for a test run before making a purchase. Several shops rent kayaks and many keep demo boats on hand, so buyers can get a sense for how a model will cut through the water.
“Trying the boats is the key to it all,” said Douglass Gray, owner of Billington Sea Kayak in Plymouth, Mass. “I’ve always said, putting you in a boat on the showroom floor is OK if you plan to paddle around the living room, but it’s not the real world.”
Gray recommends that beginners take an introductory kayaking workshop, which many stores offer. Gray’s consists of a couple of two-hour sessions, much of the time spent in the water learning the finer points of wind and tides, paddle stokes, and how to sit properly in a kayak. Though he believes that such classes are important for curbing bad habits, Gray said people take to kayaking without much instruction.
Beginners usually start out with polyethylene kayaks that are shorter, wider, more stable, and have larger cockpits than the sleeker and more expensive kayaks made from fiberglass or Kevlar and carbon components. Gray said the basic boats are 12 to 14 feet long and are well-suited for lakes and rivers.
As kayakers progress, Monahan suggests they consider buying a higher-end model, such as one made by Hobie, which could cost between $1,550 and $2,200. Some come equipped with rod holders for fishermen and a space to place a sail for kayakers who would prefer to let the wind do the work.
Brent Lang may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paddle: Most boats do not come with a paddle, but A good paddle, though it will cost more than $100, will last you several years. To decide In deciding which paddle is right for you, take into account blade length and shape, whether its feathered or nonfeathered, and whether you prefer a wood or aluminum shaft.
Bilge pump: These devices are important for pumping out in the event of an emergency or a capsizing. Kayakers can choose between hand-held models and foot operated pumps mounted to the forward bulkhead inside the cockpit.
Wetsuits: Particularly in New England, it can help to have something to keep boaters warm in the spring and fall. They can be expensive, costing well over $100 for a full suit and over $70 for a short cut suit.
Life jacket: A life jacket is key to safety in case you end up in the water. to a boater what a helmet is to a cyclist - the key to safety. Vests have become less clunky than the bulky orange preservers of old. Stohlquist and Astral make several models that are easily adjustable and allow for more flexibility.
Seats: Some boats do not come outfitted with seats. To save money you can buy a seating pad for as little as $25, but for a more comfortable ride, there are several seats with backs in the $60 to $150 range.
Sources: www.outdoorplay.com and www.kayakingjournal.com