A kayak or paddleboard can make summer special
Seldom has such a simple device brought so much pleasure to so many. First used by Native Americans before the beginning of recorded history, the kayak has been rediscovered by modern Americans and is now more popular than ever.
While the conventional image of kayaking is that of a brave adventurer shooting the rapids, the reality is different. Today’s best-selling kayaks are stable, easy to maneuver crafts, and most kayak enthusiasts enjoy paddling serene waterways, where nature can be enjoyed while getting moderate exercise.
Because a kayak is easy to transport, you don’t have to live on the water to enjoy it. Amita Guha, a New York City web developer, said she learned to kayak four years ago on the Hudson River. Today, she prefers rural settings.
“I love it,” she said. “I’ve kayaked Cape Cod a couple of times and the Elkhorn Slough off California’s Monterey Bay. I’m going paddling with a friend in Annapolis next month.”
Kayaks are available in various configurations. Most popular is the sit-in kayak, where the paddler sits on the floor, lowering the center of gravity and enhancing stability. Sit-in kayaks are available for both single paddlers and two to three occupants. Wide kayaks are most stable, while long kayaks are fastest.
Recreational Sit-In Kayaks
Most kayaks sold today are recreational kayaks, which are moderately fast, yet stable and easy to maneuver. Dunham’s stocks a wide variety, including the entry- to mid-level Pelican Ultimate 100. According to Noël Basque of Pelican, it features an adjustable seatback, foot pegs, ample storage and tie-downs, yet it’s priced affordable. Another popular Pelican offering is the mid-level Escape 100 SE, which offers a quick-lock hatch, padded seat, dashboard and more. New from Pelican is the Solo, a six-foot kayak for kids.
“Pelican wants the whole family to get into the game,” says Mr. Basque.
Dunham’s is also proud to offer kayaks from Old Town, a Maine company that has been building watercraft since 1898. According to Old Town’s Mark Palinsky, the company is one of the world’s first producers of rotationally molded kayaks.
“We’ve had a long time to get it right,” says Mr. Palinsky, “and we’re proud of our history.”
Among Old Town products you’ll find at Dunham’s are the entry level Otter, which features an adjustable seatback, foot braces, and a paddle-keeper attachment, and the top-of-the-line Dirigo, which is loaded with features including a dashboard hatch for storing cellphone, keys and other valuables.
In addition to sit-in kayaks, Dunham’s offers sit-on kayaks. Sitting up top makes for a high center of gravity, so this type kayak is wider and slower than a sit-in. But sit-on-tops are great for fishing or scuba diving, where water access is more important than speed.
Dunham’s carries the Pelican Castaway 100 sit-on-top fishing kayak with rod holders, paddle tie-downs, two flush-mount rod holders, a swivel rod holder, an adjustable padded backrest, and more. It’s ready to take you up that narrow little stream where the big ones lurk.
The Pelican Apex 100 is a full-featured sit-on-top recreational kayak featuring a self-bailing design, plenty of elastic bungee cords, and an adjustable padded backrest.
Also available at Dunham’s is the Frenzy sit-on-top from Ocean Kayak. The Frenzy features a molded-in seat well, removable bungee cords, and side-mounted carrying handles.
Get Up and Go!
Adventurous water lovers might want to try the stand-up paddleboard. A marriage of kayak and surfboard, paddleboarding is more difficult than kayaking but easier than surfing. It can provide a good workout, but leisurely paddling is an option as well.
Stand Up Paddleboarding has roots in the earliest days of surfing. Some say it was developed by surfing instructors, who stood on their boards so they could observe students. Others say it was popularized by Waikiki beach boys who paddled out on their long boards to take pictures of tourists learning to surf.
Paddleboards follow the same rules of physics as kayaks, so wider boards are more stable than narrower ones. Beginners should start with as wide a board as possible and be prepared to spend some time learning to get on their feet. Pelican’s Noël Basque says, “Most people only need five to ten minutes to get the hang of it.”
Among the Paddleboards you’ll find at Dunham’s is the Pelican Flow 106 SUP, which can be paddled standing up, kneeling or sitting.
A Good Fit
Whether you choose a kayak or paddleboard, Dunham’s consultants can help you select a product that’s best for you. In addition to variations in craft design, paddles come in different lengths and should be matched to the individual’s needs.
Both kayaking and paddleboarding are great ways to enjoy the outdoors. There’s nothing quite like moving silently across a calm body of water with a blue sky above and sunlight sparkling on the water ahead.
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Paddle Your Cares Away
A kayak or paddleboard can make summer special