Get Out on the Water

Find the right kayak for you this summer.

Summer is the perfect time to get out on the water. But this year, instead of boarding a friend’s boat or renting one for the day, consider getting a watercraft of your own. You just need to decide what kind is right for you.

One of the most accessible kinds of boats for everyone is a kayak. Whether you’re an angler or just looking for a relaxing day on the water, there are kayaks out there for you. You can choose a model that you sit on or one that you sit inside. There are also kayaks made for two people and pedal-drive kayaks for hands-free movement.

“Kayaking is a great activity for almost anyone. You don’t need to be extremely athletic or have previous experience to go enjoy a paddle on a nice calm body of water,” said Matt Yablonowski of Perception Kayaks.

Your most important consideration should be where you’ll do the majority of your kayaking. Yablonowski suggests that new paddlers start off slow to get themselves acquainted not only with kayaking in the water but also with handling a new boat.

“Practice getting your boat on and off your vehicle. Practice entering and exiting your boat, launching your boat, etc.—all in a protected environment, potentially with friends to help—so you can learn what it feels like and what it takes to get paddling,” he said.

Mark Palinsky of Old Town Canoe and Kayak Company said that many people find they eventually need more than one kayak as their interests grow, so don’t limit yourself based on your first kayak.

“You never outgrow your first kayak purchase; you only outgrow where you choose to paddle it,” said Palinsky. “This sounds peculiar but is highly true in that you may have wanted your first kayak to work well on small ponds, lakes and creeks that you want to explore. The 10-foot kayak that you bought is ideally suited to these environments and is a great choice. But then the adventurer in you sets in, and you now want to do bigger waters, go out onto the Great Lakes and cover more miles of shoreline in a day.”

Maybe you’re already an experienced kayaker or you’re interested in longer-distance paddling. In that case, kayaks that are 12 feet or longer might be best for you as they track better and develop a better glide per stroke.

“If you end up loving this sport as much as we do, you will own more than one kayak suited to what you are doing and where you are going that day,” Palinsky said, “and relative to the cost, kayaking is quite inexpensive.”

When you’re thinking about your first (or second, or third) kayak, comfort should be one of the top features you are concerned with. Many Old Town kayaks are made with the Comfort Flex Seat System, which moves with you as you paddle. And its large size offers plenty of support.

“When you grab the seat, you may be left with the first impression that it seems awfully flimsy. That is not the case at all,” Palinsky said. “We developed this flex to make the kayak perform better for you when you are in it. If you were to sit on a park bench with your kayak paddle and go through the motions of paddling, you would easily see that a rigid, solid seat is not what you want at all!”

Comfort is key with Perception Kayaks as well. All of their kayaks are outfitted with padded, adjustable seating systems that allow the paddler to customize the fit for better connection, control and have an overall more enjoyable boating experience.

If you’re a fisherman, there are features for you, too! Yablonowski suggests that shoppers think about features such as storage capacity and mounting options for your accessories. There are even a large variety of color options available.

“Both the Perception Pescador Pilot Pedal Drive kayak and Pescador PRO 10 and 12 come with large stadium-style seats for all-day comfort as well as gear tracks for mounting accessories without having to drill holes in your brand-new boat,” said Yablonowski. “Both models also have mounting and storage solutions for electronics, including a large scupper and pre-set mounting inserts for a fish-finder transducer.”

Once you have your boat, you can start exploring accessories, such as the perfect paddle. You can also look into other accessories, like a boat sponge, dry box, paddle leash or rack to transport the kayak on your vehicle. And as always, don’t forget your safety gear! A Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is a must when you’re out on the water. There are PFDs that are designed specially for kayaking. They’re shorter in length than general boating PFDs to accommodate sitting in or on a kayak and some feature a high or mesh back so they don’t interfere as much with the seatback. In any case, make sure they’re properly fitted.

Stay safe, and have fun in your new boat this summer!

-Paddle Bum

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A Century of Celebrating America’s Beauty

Enjoy our nation’s wonder by camping at a National Park.
 
This upcoming August 25th marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service, an organization devoted to maintaining our nation’s natural splendor. The idea of conserving and enjoying natural spaces is actually even older. An Act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 established Yellowstone as our nation’s first national park and the first national park in the world. Last year, over 307 million people visited a national park. From battlefields to recreation areas, scenic waterways and trails, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And there’s no better way to experience all the splendor that a national park has to offer than camping. So consider pitching a tent at any of the following national parks this summer.
 
Michigan/Ohio/Pennsylvania
 
There’s something for everyone at the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. Camping, historic sites, wildlife watching and kayaking are available at this national park in Monroe, Michigan. The site was the scene of a major battle in the War of 1812. The loss by the United States’ forces here was a major turning point in our eventual victory. The trail provides visitors with an outstanding opportunity to step back in time and experience the marshes and wetlands that the early French settlers first explored.
 
Head north to Upper Michigan and explore Isle Royale National Park. This island park in Lake Superior offers canoeing, kayaking, fishing and scuba diving adventures. Backpacking and camping are especially popular, with 36 campgrounds located across the island. Campsites are accessible only by foot or watercraft. Typically, campers backpack from one campground to another, traveling six to eight miles per day. Several campgrounds on the Lake Superior shoreline have docks for power and sail boaters. Other campgrounds, located inland, are only accessible by non-motorized boats such as canoes and kayaks. For those who enjoy tranquility, you must check out this park.
 
Illinois/Indiana/Minnesota/Wisconsin
 
Just as rugged and just as awe-inspiring is Voyageurs National Park in International Falls, Minnesota. It was established in 1975 and named after the fur traders, called voyageurs (voyagers or travelers) who paddled the waterways over 200 years ago. Here you can see and touch rocks half as old as the world, experience the life of a voyageur, immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of a boreal forest, view the dark skies right from your campsite, or ply the interconnected water routes. With one-third of the parks 215,000-plus acres consisting of water, be sure to take in one of the two boat tours available June through September.
 
Kentucky/Maryland/Virginia/West Virginia
 
Explore the world’s longest known cave system (over 400 miles of caves have been explored so far) at Mammoth Cave National Park in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Cave tours have been offered since 1816, which makes Mammoth Cave one of the oldest tour attractions in North America. Mammoth Cave offers a number of tours of various duration and physical ability; be sure to pick one that suits you and all of your family members. Dress accordingly, since even on the hottest August days a sweatshirt or jacket is recommended within the cave. In addition to cave tours, hiking, camping, horseback riding, fishing and kayaking are available.
 
North Carolina/Tennessee
 
Situated on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park. It offers an unparalleled diversity of plant and animal life. Part of the Appalachian mountain chain, the “Smokies” get their name from the fog that tends to hang over the mountains in the morning and after rains. In addition to the natural beauty of these ancient mountains, this park offers views of Southern Appalachian mountain culture. One of the most popular destinations within the park is Cades Cove. It offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Large numbers of white-tailed deer are frequently seen and sightings of black bear, coyote, ground hog, turkey, raccoon, skunk, and other animals are also possible.
In addition to camping, plenty of other activities are available, including biking, hiking, fishing and horse riding. Thanks to its’ ample rainfall and elevation gradient, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an ideal destination for those who want to experience waterfalls. Over 100 prominent ones are featured within the park.
 
Kansas/Nebraska/Oklahoma/South Dakota
 
The rugged beauty of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Take in the 45-minute geology walk, visit the paleontology lab or attend the fossil talk to learn more about the ancient mammals––such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat––that once roamed here. Today, bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets reside within the park’s 244,000 acres. Have your cameras ready to capture their majestic beauty. For those who have never truly experienced the magnificence of the night sky, be sure to take in the Night Sky Program. It offers views of more than 7,500 stars and clear views of our Milky Way.
 
Every state in our nation offers a national treasure, be it a wilderness area, historical monument, trail or recreation area, with many offering onsite camping. The list is much too long to include in any article, so please visit www.nps.gov for more information and discover for yourself why we call it America the Beautiful.
 
-Happy Camper
 
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Got two Paddles… Where’s the Creek?

Summer is all about getting physical activity while enjoying the beauty and pleasure of the outdoors. One great way to get your exercise and experience the beauty of Mother Nature is to go canoeing.
 
Mark Palinsky, of Old Town Canoe and Kayak Co., said that families should consider what kind of canoe trip they want before they head out. Does your family want a long trip or short one? He said that making a decision about how long the trip will be is probably the most important decision to make. If your family is new to canoeing and not used to camping, start with a day trip and work your way toward weekend adventures.
 
You should also consider how experienced everyone in your family or travel party is when it comes to canoeing. It is important to look for bodies of water that will match up with the skill level of everyone involved. That way, no one gets left out of the fun! Palinsky suggests that beginners and families stay away from rivers that have class-numbered rapids, as the weather and other factors can increase a river’s class at any time. Canoeing a river that is out of your skill level could be very dangerous.
 
One other word of advice from Palinsky—buy an extra paddle. It’s a $20 investment that could save your whole trip!
 
Noel Basque of Pelican International Inc., also said families should consider the skill level of their group. Trips of just a few hours would be more appropriate for beginners. The proper equipment, including life vests, an extra paddle, water, food, and rain gear, is also a must. Camping gear and waterproof bags should be brought as well if you are in for a longer trip.
 
“Paddling is a great family adventure,” Basque said. “Beginners should always do short paddles first to get used to the canoe and to assure that they are comfortable in their abilities.”
 
There are guides you can check out to see what to expect from certain rivers. Check a bookstore or look online for guides related to your travel destination’s canoeing opportunities. You certainly will not have to travel far to find a suitable canoeing spot. There are popular canoe destinations in every corner of the country!
 
“Rivers don’t have to be big or long to be pleasurable for an afternoon,” Palinsky said. “Almost all states have some good water.”
 
Basque suggests www.americancanoe.org to find more information on rivers and lakes in your area. He says there are spots to canoe all over the U.S.A. You just have to go out and find them!
 
You could also go to travel sites such as TripAdvisor to seek out canoeing destinations. Senior Public Relations Specialist at TripAdvisor Julie Cassetina suggests looking at TripAdvisor’s Inspiration page where you can filter your destination with keywords such as “adventure.” Get just what you want out of your canoeing trip.
 
Cassetina also suggests looking for the TripAdvisor Forums. There you can find Destination Experts. These Destination Experts are well versed in the areas they represent and they can help guide you to the best canoeing wherever you are headed.
 
What better way to make the most of a canoe trip this summer than to get some new equipment? Or perhaps you are buying an additional canoe to add to your fleet. Either way, you’re in luck! Old Town and Pelican canoes are available at Dunham’s.
 
The Saranac 146 is one of Old Town’s most popular canoes and made in the United States. It features seats with high backrests, has a center seat that can fit one adult or two small children and offers molded-in rod, drink holders and storage compartments. Molded-in carrying handles are located on the bow and stern of the canoe. To top it all off, the Saranac 146 is available for an affordable price.
 
“The Saranac is a light, affordable and, most importantly, comfortable stable canoe for recreational paddling,” Palinsky said.
 
You can find the Pelican 15.5 at Dunham’s, which features three molded bench seats, vertical rod holders and drink holders. It even offers the convenience of hull and stern carrying handles.
 
Don’t get stuck up a creek without a paddle. Head to your local Dunham’s Sports, and find canoe equipment that works great for you and your entire family!
 
-Paddle Bum
 
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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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