Kayaking Accessories for Your
Cape Cod Kayak Trip
There are a number of kayaking accessories visiting couples will need for their Cape Cod Kayak trip. Of course, if you're kayaking as part of a guided tour, then these items will be provided for you. But if you are starting to get more serious about kayaking, and you've already sunk several hundred dollars into rentals, you may just be ready to take the plunge and become proud owners of your own boats and gear.
Here are some of the kayaking accessories you'll want to consider.
There are three broad styles of kayaks - day touring kayaks, recreational kayaks and sit on top kayaks. Couples venturing out into open water should opt for day touring boats, which tend to be long and narrow with a small cockpit.
For couples planning to stay closer to the shore in calmer waters, recreational kayaks are wider with large cockpit openings. Beginners might prefer sit on top kayaks which have an air core and scupper holes so that water doesn't sink the boat
Within these three broad styles, there are three additional factors you should consider when making your purchasing decision – the length of the boat, the shape of the bottom, and outfitting. The type of kayaking you expect to be doing and how good a kayaker you are will greatly influence which kayak you should choose.
Any kayak longer than 16 feet, for example, will find it difficult to negotiate many of Cape Cod's narrow winding creeks, unless it's being handled by a real expert. An open vessel shorter than 10 feet, on the other hand, may have difficulty in choppy ocean waters.
Unless you're a serious ocean kayaker with strong kayaking technique, a shorter flat bottomed boat is likely to be better, since it will be more maneuverable. Some couples may opt for a tandem kayak but, while that may work for a one-day rental situation, we're happier with two solos. We don't always go kayaking together, and we don't want to be joined at the hip.
There are plenty of places either on Cape or online to purchase a comfortable, durable, stable and inexpensive boat that can perform just as well on a lake as it does on a calm sea.
Choosing the right paddle is a very personal matter, but a few universal truths abound. You should pick a paddle that is both durable and light, bearing in mind, though, that typically the lighter and more durable the paddle, the more expensive it is likely to be.
Bear in mind also that a paddle's “swing weight” (its weight when held horizontally as you would when actually paddling) and its absolute weight are not necessarily the same. The cheaper paddle may actually weight the same as the more expensive one, but your shoulders will certainly know the difference after a few hours of paddling.
Paddle length and blade style are also important factors that are determined by your height, the length and width of your kayak, your paddling speed and the type of area you're likely to be paddling. Recreational kayakers will do best with a longer narrower blade with rounded edges at the tip and a pear-shaped grip for comfort. Most important is to make sure you're comfortable getting the blade under the surface of the water while sitting up straight and without hitting your knuckles on the edge of the boat
The Personal Floatation Device (PFD)
Among the most important of kayaking accessories is the personal floatation device (PFD) which is a n absolute must have item both by law and by common sense. Both the US Coast Guard and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have laws that govern the use of PFDs. Without going into all the statutory details, let's just say that you have to have one, and you have to actually wear it, not keep it stowed it in the hatch or under the seat. It really is that simple. They really do save lives.
One important factor that often gets overlooked is the need to buy a PFD that fits properly. A common mistake is to assume that a lifejacket should come down to the waist. The trouble with this thinking is that, when you sit inside a kayak's cockpit, the shoulder strap will be pushed up around your ears.
So it's important to sit down when judging the fit of your lifejacket. One that comes midway down your abdomen when you're standing will likely fit better and be more comfortable when you're in a sitting position.
Once you have these three most basic kayaking accessories, you will, of course, find that lots of other equipment and gadgets are available. Depending on how serious you are, how often you go out, and what kinds of conditions you''re likely to find yourself in, some of these might be considered necessary while others are just nice to have, particularly if you're the type that loves gadgets.
A bilge pump and a paddle float may be essential if ever you need to do a self-rescue. Strobe lights for nighttime trips, a car-rack for transporting your boat, and a good pair of crocs, because a lot of the Cape's best launch points can be rough on bare feet.
Whatever time of year you're kayaking, it's important to dress according to the water temperature, not the air temperature. A beautiful spring day (and in these parts spring lasts well into June) can give you an air temperature of 70° but water temperatures in the mid- 40s.
Even in high summer, you'd be surprised how chilly the water can be. We've jumped off the bridge at Scorton Creek on many a hot day in July and still have to catch our breath as we plunge into the cold water there.
So the best way to dress is in several layers of lightweight clothing that can easily be removed as your body temperature increases with the exercise of paddling. Other necessities include a hat with a brim, which is critical to prevent sunstroke, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Graduating from novice renters to experienced kayakers with their own gear is a nice rite of passage. If you're looking for more information about buying a kayak, there's a terrific website we found at www.kayakingjournal.com. Check it out and maybe the next time to come to Cape Cod, you'll already have all the kayaking accessories you need.
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