By John Gibb
Though having a pleasure boat means being able to take fun little cruises, partake in some exciting ocean fishing, or spend the day water skiing, there are limits to where you can take a regular boat. For those who love the pleasure of being on the water and who also want to get as close to nature as possible, kayaking an intimate boating experience can be just the thing that they are looking for. The slim designs and relative small size of kayaks means that you can get into places where larger boats may not be able to fit – or are not even allowed to go.
Kayaks are small, streamlined boats that have tapered ends and slightly thicker centers. There are openings in the middle that are just large enough to fit one person. Kayaks are never motorized…they are propelled manually, using one oar that has a paddle on either side. The kayaker uses the oar alternately from one side to the other to move the kayak forward or backward. Although all kayaks have the same basic design, they are not all the same size. When you purchase a kayak, you need to choose one that is the right size for you. The salesperson where you purchase your kayak can help you find one that is the right fit.
People purchase kayaks for several reasons, such as racing, white water rafting, or leisurely trips along rivers, streams, lakes, or in the ocean. Being able to venture into small tributaries, narrow canyons, or rocky places where larger boats can’t go is one of the greatest benefits of kayaking. With no motor and just a quiet paddle, kayakers can enter into places without disturbing the local wildlife. The serenity of paddling your kayak along a glassy lake in the early morning, or along a river through a small canyon at sunset can be an incomparable experience. The way kayaks are designed, they seem to blend in with the natural surroundings instead of disturbing them. Paddle down a creek in a kayak through an area where most people can’t go, and you will be able to see nature at its best. When most people experience something like this, they talk later about how time seemed to stop for them; they were on the water for hours when it seemed like much less time.
Though communing alone with nature is a wonderful experience, it should be noted that it is much safer for kayakers to travel with someone else – at least one other kayaker. Very experienced kayakers can usually get away with kayaking alone, because they know where they can go and all the safety measures to take, but even they won’t usually tackle any white water alone. Kayakers who are just learning or don’t have a lot of experience are better off traveling with buddies. This doesn’t have to take away from the pleasure and intimacy of communing with nature, and it can be comforting to know that if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, someone else is there to help.
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