By Kim Silvia-Paré, Providence, RI
Are you interested in those colorful, floating things on the lakes and rivers? Those things are known as kayaks. They have had a long history of entertainment and functionality on the water (as far back as Eskimo use in the 1600’s). But, what exactly are kayaks all about? Paddleboarding, another means of water entertainment is all the rage now. It is similar to kayaking because you are on the water using a paddle but, instead of sitting in a boat, you are standing on a board. If you prefer to sit and have less risk of falling in the water, then kayaking is for you. Not only is the word kayak as cool as a palindrome, nothing is cooler than paddling idly down a lazy river- or if you prefer, getting a crazy adrenaline rush on white water rapids! There are several hundred brands/models of kayaks, so you may ask yourself, how do I choose the right one?
If you are new to kayaking, or if you prefer to stick to calm, protected waters, a sit-on-top or recreational boat is for you. Both types are wider and therefore more stable. They are tento twelve- feet long and often have a small storage area for small-day trips. If you are a more experienced kayaker, and enjoy open water, a touring kayak is best for traveling long distances, additionally, they perform well in rough conditions. They are longer, twelve- to seventeen- feet long, and their hulls are shaped to increase lift in waves and to perform well in turbulent water. Most touring kayaks have a rudder or skeg to control the kayak. Some other types to consider, if space is an issue are modular, folding, or inflatable kayaks, these types are easier to transport. If you’re unsure of what you want to do altogether, try it out first!
Rent a kayak: Narrow River in Narragansett, Lincoln Woods in Lincoln, and The Kayak Centre in Wickford all offer rentals for a minimum of 2 hours, up to a whole day of boating. You’ll have a much more safe and enjoyable time on the water with some skills under your belt. So rent a kayak and get a lesson to increase your confidence.
Some things you will need to know:
1. Wear a PFD (personal flotation device) for safety.
2. Bring a buddy for additional safety.
3. Dress accordingly for the weather but also dress according to the water temperature – you may end up wet!
4. Make sure you wear a hat and sunblock, the water reflects the sun’s rays very strongly.
5. If you’re on your own, learn how to read a tide chart. Too low of a tide might strand you and too high of a tide may pull you out to sea.
When you get in your boat, make sure it is adjusted correctly. With your back snug against the upright seat-back, keep your feet on the foot braces, and your knees under the side of the cockpit. To make your boat move, make sure you are holding your paddle (also known as an oar) at all times. Once afloat, use the forward stroke which is a push/pull motion that moves you through the water: torso rotation is key. The strength of the push/pull movement comes from the large muscles in your trunk, not from your arms, like most people assume. Make sure the rounded side of the paddle blade is always forward while the spoon (the cupped portion of the blade) faces the rear of the boat. Most kayakers naturally pull the blade towards themselves it is equally important to push the blade strongly through the water. A push/pull motion, with torso rotation, provides enormous leverage and speed to your stroke. Keep your neck and back loose with every stroke. And most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the scenery, the waters of Rhode Island are so beautiful! So get out there and enjoy the boating season!
Kim Silvia-Paré is the Group Fitness Director at CORE Studios in Providence. She is a recreational kayaker who doesn’t like to get in the water.