Archive for the ‘Kayaking’ Category

Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Anywhere You Want!

The variety of boats available for those looking to get out on the water this summer is as vast as the customers looking to pur-chase them. From kayaks, to stand-up paddleboards, to canoes, pedal boats and beyond, it has become incredibly easy to find the right boat based on need, ability, and various features.
But with such a wide array of boats and features to choose from, how does one go about finding that perfect boat to enjoy the summer to its fullest? Noel Basque of Pelican attributes a quality boat to its hull design.
“Designing a hull requires investment in R&D and industrial design so lower quality kayaks tend to have simple hull designs that allow them to float but not much more,” Basque says. “Hull design involves trade-offs, but a well designed hull will put a premium on one feature while optimizing others so that the paddling experience remains enjoyable.”
Another feature to consider in a quality boat or kayak is its construction. For example, Old Town kayaks are Roto Molded, meaning they’re made in an enclosed steel mold containing polyethylene powder. It’s put into an oven and heated until a plastic is formed.
“With this process we can make our kayaks thicker on the ends and bottom then thinner on the deck, where we do not need so much material,” said Mark Palinsky of Old Town. “This is all about product durability.”
The Swiftwater 10.5, manufactured by Perception Sport, has a versatile design made for handling both lakes and rivers con-taining rapids. It has both a large cockpit, but it curves over the paddler’s legs so that the operator is able to control the boat with his or her body, which is paramount in handling tougher conditions.
In fact, all Perception Sport boats are one-piece, meaning there is increased durability.
They’re built with a high-end plastic that has built-in sun protection and are very stiff, resulting in a very high tolerance for abrasion. The stiffness of the kayak also leads to increased performance.
“This is one of the biggest differences in quality because it affects how the boat handles abrasion, how easy the boat is to con-trol and how well they perform,” said Greg Larson of Perception Sport.
If searching for the perfect fishing kayak for Dad this summer, look no further than the Patriot or Blast, which are both made by Perception Sport. These boats, built exclusively for fishermen, have special features added to ensure that its operator is in complete control of the boat and his tackle.
“We have some models like the Patriot and Blast that have fishing rod holders built-in or added, and have a very flat bottom that adds to initial stability for fishing, hunting, bird watching or general recreational use,” said Greg Larson of Perception Sport.
The features of boats and kayaks not only differ between brands, but each brand has various features that differ with each line of product. For example, Pelican kayaks have features on their higher-end models that allow for more experienced paddlers to venture out for longer periods of time. They also offer more seating comfort, adjustable foot pegs to suit each and every body type, storage space, and knee pads or thigh braces which allow more comfortable paddling and increased control.
The Old Town Trip 10, a Dunham’s exclusive model, carries a weight capacity of between 275 and 300 pounds. The bonus feature of this model that you won’t find on every kayak is the rear hatch system for gear storage.
“The rear cover opens into a large compartment that has what is called a bulkhead, or divider that seals that part of the boat off from the rest of the hull,” explains Palinsky. “This helps keep your gear dry, and provides extra flotation to the whole boat.”
Pelican also has several choices at Dunham’s this summer, including the Vibe 80 stand-up paddleboard for small paddlers, the Ultimate 100SE kayak, and the Escape 100 kayak, which offers adjustable foot pegs, stern Quicklock storage, a cockpit table with day hatch and bottle holder, and comfortable seating.
So whether you’re new to kayaking or a seasoned sailor, Dunham’s has the variety of boats with features perfect for everyone. With summer at its peak, don’t waste it away watching from shore. Get out and paddle!
See you in the woods!
-Paddle Bum
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Paddle Your Way to Adventure

Today’s kayaks offer safe, inexpensive fun for the entire family.
If you’re a frequent visitor to our lakes and streams, you’ve likely noticed that more people are enjoying the same waterways while paddling a kayak. In fact, according to The Outdoor Foundation, 32 percent more participants took up the sport between 2009 and 2011. That’s not surprising when you consider that it can be enjoyed by young and old, is relatively inexpensive and the equipment requires little maintenance.
“Kayaks are friendlier today than they have ever been. They are more stable, more comfortable and easier to use. They’re also safer. The cockpit opening is longer and goes past your knees, making it easier to exit the kayak in an emergency situation,” said Mark Palinsky, of Old Town.
If you’ve considered joining this extremely enjoyable and relaxing activity, here are a few options and suggestions.
Fishing and River Kayaks
As our experts pointed out, we’re seeing two significant kayaking trends in: people are buying them to fish and to paddle along our scenic rivers.
“The river kayaks are simply an extension of what people have experienced for years. They have rented kayaks and canoes at liveries and have enjoyed the experience so much that they have decided to purchase the kayak for personal use. Our Swiftwater 10.5 kayak is ideal for this use. The fishing kayaks are great for those who want to get away from fishing from shore and don’t want to use a powerboat. I recommend our Patriot or Blast models. They are designed to carry fishing rod holders and come in camouflage colors,” said Greg Larson of Confluence Water Sports.
Another option for anglers is Pelican International’s Castaway 100 sit-on kayak. It offers plenty of speed, capacity and storage space. Mark Palinsky, of Old Town kayaks and canoes, offers yet another approach.
“You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy an angler kayak. Kayaks that are serviceable, with a large cockpit and high level of stability, such as our Vapor 10 model, are very good for people who like to fish. What many of our customers have found is that it’s less expensive to buy a base model and customize it to their specific needs,” Palinsky said.
Kids’ Kayaks
As many parents are discovering, kayaking is an ideal activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family, including children. Before you purchase a kayak for junior, Palinsky offers the following advice:
“Like shoes, the kayak has to fit the child. Shoes that are too big make the child clumsy and shoes that are too small are not comfortable. Frequently, parents will buy a 9-foot boat and will have their kids grow into it. It’s not necessarily the best approach,” he said.
Palinsky recommends making sure the kayak is designed to accommodate the child’s weight and that the foot pegs can be easily reached, since they help provide stability.
Stand Up Paddleboards
Also extremely popular nowadays are stand up paddleboards (SUPs). In fact, The Outdoor Foundation reports that nearly 60 percent of stand up paddling participants tried the activity for the first time in 2011.
“SUPs are wide surfboards that you stand up and paddle with and are more versatile than kayaks. You can sit, kneel or stand up on them. Women are using them for yoga and core exercising,” said Lisa Senecal, Pelican International.
Dunham’s Sports carries three different Pelican International models: Vibe, for smaller paddlers (up to 120 pounds), Flow, for intermediate paddlers and Surge, for more performance-oriented paddlers.
“We’re seeing an increase of SUPs in river use, especially in Michigan,” Palinsky added. “What a wonderful way to go down the river; they provide a much better view of what’s in front and around you.”
Kayak Care
One of the most appealing aspects of this sport is that the equipment requires little maintenance.
“Pretty much all of the kayaks that Dunham’s carries are low maintenance – even no maintenance,” Senecal said.
“We have sun protection built into the boat, but not on the seats. We recommend using a good UV protectant to prevent sun degradation,” Larson added. All of our experts recommended storing kayaks on their side when not in use.
Dunham’s Sports carries a wide range of kayaks and SUPs for a variety of purposes, configurations and price points. Be sure to consult with a sales representative to help you make an informed decision so you too can enjoy our area’s wonderful waterways.
-Paddle Bum
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Fishing from kayaks has exploded in popularity over the past decade, and for good reason. These small personal watercraft offer several advantages to the angler over conventional boats — no need for a boat launch, no noisy motor to scare the fish, and a nimbleness that lets you get into those tight spots where fish like to hide and where typical fishing boats won’t fit.
It’s Personal
It would be hard to find a more personal outdoor activity than paddling a single-seat kayak (two- and four-seat kayaks are also available). You propel yourself and go exactly where you want to go, which gives you the freedom to escape the crowds and find nature on your own terms.
That personal character of a kayak is something to keep in mind when buying one.
You will be spending a lot of time in (or on) it, so be sure it fits you and you are completely comfortable. Lucian Gazel runs a kayak fishing guide service on the Great Lakes, and he says you can do that without actually putting a kayak in the water. “In the store, you can sit in the kayak, get a paddle and move your arms and you can tell right away if you’re too restricted or if you have a good fit.”
Your individual needs go beyond just how the kayak fits, however. Where you will use the kayak and where you will fish are also important. If you’ll primarily fish in open water — large lakes — then stability may be more important. If you’ll spend most of your time on rivers and smaller lakes, then mobility and nimbleness may be bigger priorities.
Accessorizing Your Kayak
While kayaks are able to go where conventional fishing boats can’t, their relative smaller size means a whole different strategy on carrying your fishing “stuff.” Space is at a premium, and you have to carefully plan how you’ll carry rods, reels, tackle, bait and all the other gear you can just throw into a fishing boat.
So, what do you need and where do you put it? The experts agree that the key is to start slow. “I wouldn’t buy any kind of fishing accessory for a kayak until I’ve had the kayak in the water at least 3 or 4 times,” says Gazel. “The mistake kayak rookies often make is they put their rod holder in a place that interferes with their paddling. The problem is, once you’ve drilled that hole, you’re pretty well stuck with it.”
There are numerous accessories for the kayak angler — rod holders, storage for bait and fish, tackle boxes, running lights, anchors, drift chutes, seatbacks, paddle keepers, fish finders — the list goes on and on.
Kayak veterans say newcomers should keep things simple, at least at first. All you really need is a rod holder. Then, after a few trips you can adapt your kayak fishing gear to your own experiences. There’s plenty of time to stock up on your “toys.”
Catching Fish from a Kayak
Kayaks give you a built-in advantage of “stealth” fishing, and the ability to go just about anywhere the fish are. Still, there are different techniques for fishing from a kayak.
Trolling — Just as with a conventional boat, but you can troll in tighter areas. You drift with the current or paddle, dragging a lure or bait.
Drifting — You can drift in the general direction of a structure. Put away your paddle and use a rudder to steer.
Side Saddle — From a sit-on-top kayak, this is an excellent technique in shallow water where you can see bottom. You can control the kayak without a paddle, using your feet to “walk” across the bottom.
Poling and Standing — Standing lets you see down in the water for excellent sight-casting. Obviously, this takes a very stable craft in calm waters. You can use a pole to propel yourself.
Fly Fishing — Easier in a sit-inside kayak, because you’ve got a perfect place to store a stripped fly line.
Wade Fishing — You can anchor the kayak, or you can tie yourself to it with a bowline.
Once you’ve fished from a kayak, you may never go back to the “old” way. And you may also find you spend plenty of time in your kayak without a fishing rod, simply enjoying nature.
Choosing the right paddle is very important — you’re going to be using that paddle virtually every moment you’re in the kayak. Lucian Gazel’s advice is simple: “Buy the most expensive paddle you can afford.”
3 Paddle Characteristics
Blade Length and Shape
A wider blade has more surface area and can provide more acceleration, but will also require more effort. Feathered blades have the blades turned at an angle to one another (rather than parallel). This allows a more efficient stroke as the blade that is not in the water is leading into the wind with its narrow edge instead of the flat side, for less wind resistance. However, additional wrist turning is required, so a compromise for novice paddlers is a collapsible paddle that can be adjusted for feathered or unfeathered use.
A spooned paddle has a curled or cupped face that increases the power of a stroke, while a dihedral paddle has a type of tapered nose in the middle of the face that helps direct water around the paddle.
Shaft Length and Shape
Length is important based on your size, the size of the kayak and the paddle effort desired. While most paddle shafts are straight, there are several bent-shaft models that may increase a paddler’s comfort as well as provide for a stronger, more efficient stroke.
The materials used to construct the paddle will determine its weight, durability and flexibility. Paddles may be made of fiberglass, plastic, aluminum, graphite, Kevlar, carbon or good-old-fashioned wood. Each type has its own feel as to weight and flex. Where you kayak is also important. If you primarily use rivers, streams and small lakes, you are more likely to run into rocks, trees and other debris, so durability is more important than if you primarily kayak in open water.
-Paddle Bum
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Four Thousand Years Old, Getting Better Every Day

The kayak may be one of the world’s oldest watercrafts, but the latest designs show a lot of fresh thinking.
Kayaking is one of today’s fastest growing recreational activities, but the kayak is not a new concept. The first kayaks were built over 4,000 years ago by some of the first inhabitants of North America — indigenous residents of the Arctic region. Made of animal skins and driftwood, these early boats were ideal transportation for a hunter who wished to navigate frigid waterways in search of dinner.
A wide variety of kayaks are available today, and thanks to many years of development and advanced design techniques, the venerable watercraft is now a superb way for one or more adventurers to explore the world’s waters.
Recreational Kayaking
While kayaks are still used for fishing or hunting, recreational paddling has become the most popular activity of kayak enthusiasts, and boats designed specifically for that role are widely available. Recreational kayaks provide go-anywhere freedom, and because they move almost silently, they are a comfortable fit in a wilderness environment.
According to Mark Palinsky of Old Town Kayaks, today’s recreational kayaks are engineered with plenty of stability and gear capacity. Made of tough space-age plastics and easy to control, recreational kayaks are well suited to leisurely exploration of lakes and rivers. Because modern kayaks are roomy and provide easy entry and exit, the sport imposes no boundaries. Kayaking is enjoyed by young and old alike, and unlike most recreational activities, men and women participate in equal numbers.
The most common type of recreational kayak is the 10- to 14-foot sit-in design, where a single occupant sits in a comfortable padded seat that is positioned below the kayak’s deck. According to Lisa Senecal of Pelican International, sit-in kayaks are more popular than sit-on-top designs, because the paddler is better protected from spray. That makes a difference when the water is uncomfortably cold.
Today’s better recreational kayaks are equipped with a number of hatches for stowing equipment,  bulkheads that can help keep compartments dry, handles for carrying the kayak, adjustable foot braces, thigh pads, and perhaps even a cup holder for your favorite beverage.
Variations on a Theme
While recreational kayaks are today’s best sellers, other types are available as well.
Whitewater kayaks are specialized watercraft, and you’ve probably seen them shooting the rapids on television.Short and maneuverable, they work best when pushed by a fast-moving stream. Because whitewater kayaking can be challenging, it requires training and preparation.
Touring kayaks are another configuration. Very long and less maneuverable than a recreational kayak, they are capable of higher speed on open water. Touring kayaks are usually about 16 feet or more in length and can rapidly cover a lot of water, so they’re a great choice for a long trip across a bay or large lake. Many are designed for two or three occupants and include plenty of gear-stowage room. Some touring kayaks have rudders to assist in control and an upturned bow to deflect waves. At rest, they are generally not as stable as recreational kayaks.
Kayaks designed for fishing are lightweight and extremely stable. They can include features like rod holders, mounts for electronic gear, a means of securing the paddle, and an anchor system.
Sit-on-top kayaks are exactly what the name suggests. Rather than sitting within the hull, the paddler sits on top of the hull. Because this raises the center of gravity, sit-on-top kayaks are wider than traditional kayaks in order to gain stability. They are popular with scuba divers who want to easily get in and out of the water. They are also the choice of some fishermen, who like the freedom of movement that this kayak provides. The latest designs are almost unsinkable and are a great choice for those who want to play on and in the water.
Inflatable Kayaks are usually made of hypalon, polyvinyl chloride, or polyurethane-coated cloth. Because they can be deflated and folded, they are easily carried to a destination. A pump is required for inflation. Electric pumps that connect to a vehicle’s electrical system are a common choice.
What’s New?
“The kayak market is beginning to see the emergence of recreational kayaks that are slightly modified so that they can be used as touring kayaks for longer trips,” said Pelican’s Lisa Senecal. She added that people are increasingly looking for increased comfort in the way of padded ergonomically designed seats, dry storage and bulkheads that form watertight compartments.
Old Town’s Palinsky said that improved water-resistant hatches are featured on some newer kayaks. For example, his company recently introduced a Quick Seal hatch design on its Dirigo series kayaks. The hatch features gasket technology that is very resistant to water.
Kayaking Paddles
Kayak paddles are made in a variety of styles and of various materials, including aluminum, plastic, fiberglass and carbon fiber. Aluminum paddle shafts with plastic blades are light and inexpensive, and are a popular choice. Carbon fiber paddles are rigid and lightweight, but they are expensive. While not as light or rigid as carbon paddles, fiberglass paddles are also very high quality, and they can be more affordable.
Many paddles offer blade-angle adjustment. Varying the angle can change the amount of effort required to pull the blade through the water.
Kayaking Accessories
As the popularity of kayaking grew, the list of accessories expanded, but some are more necessary than others. For example, a personal flotation device, or PFD, is an absolute requirement. In addition, most kayakers don’t want to be without a dry bag — a watertight sack that protects your cargo if water enters the hatch. Fishing-related accessories are quite popular. Among these are swivel rod holders and anchor kits that will adapt a recreational kayak for angling.  Other available extras include carry straps, seat cushions, tie-down devices, worktables and more.
Paddle to that Special Place
It doesn’t take a large investment or a lot of skill to enjoy kayaking. Perhaps that’s why the sport has grown so rapidly. A kayak on your favorite lake or stream gives you freedom to wander that most other types of watercraft can’t match. So strap those kayaks to the roof of your car and head off to the great outdoors. That special place awaits you.
-Paddle Bum
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Whether you are looking for a new activity to add to your current exercise routine or you simply want to find an enjoyable outdoor activity during the warm summer months, kayaking may be a great option for you. The basic skills of paddling are uncomplicated to learn for recreational needs, but can be perfected over time to increase efficiency for more serious kayakers. Kayaking can also provide many health benefits for both those who appreciate the competition of sport and those who just want a fun, social activity.
The repetitive action of paddling over a long duration of time improves both aerobic and muscular endurance. The continuous paddle stroke and physical effort required to propel the kayak through water should keep the heart rate elevated and the muscles challenged. Because kayaking focuses primarily on the upper body for the basis of the movement, it should affect your cardiovascular system very differently than many standard aerobic activities, such as jogging or biking.
The added variety and emphasis on upper body musculature through hundreds, if not thousands, of repetitions will not only build muscular endurance, but strength as well. Kayaking provides great emphasis on the back, shoulders, arms and torso. Depending on your skills as a kayaker, the lower body can also become very involved. The added difficulty of working in an unstable environment, in addition to the trunk rotation necessary for this activity further increase the significance of core strength in the abdominal and lower back muscles, as well as the hips.
Similar to any aerobic activity, kayaking can also be used as a tool to achieve weight loss. Depending on your physical abilities and intensity of paddling, kayaking at five miles per hour burns roughly 400 calories per hour. Better yet – You are able to enjoy the benefits of creating a significant calorie deficit while appreciating the pure and simple, stress-reducing perks of being outside to enjoy the weather and the scenery. Being with nature will allow you to clear your mind and relax your body without the bothersome interruptions of everyday life.
Before you begin, be sure to invest in the proper safety equipment necessary for most water sports. In addition, finding an appropriate training program that will help you improve your core strength, upper body strength and endurance, aerobic conditioning, flexibility and balance will allow you to enjoy the sport of kayaking for many years.
-Paddle Bum
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