Saki on surf ski


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Last updated January 1, 2021


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Show me something that floats and I'll show you a boat. Show me two things that float and I'll show you a race.

Kayaker animation

Here are some pictures from some of my favorite paddling trips.  Kayaking is sort of like joining the Army (not that I would know).  It's not just a hobby, it's an adventure.

Click on one of the below links to see trip reports of previous adventures.
     Kayaking Adventures 2021
     Kayaking Adventures 2020
     Kayaking Adventures 2019
     Kayaking Adventures 2018
     Kayaking Adventures 2017
     Kayaking Adventures 2016
     Kayaking Adventures 2015
     Kayaking Adventures 2014
     Kayaking Adventures 2013
     Kayaking Adventures 2012
     Kayaking Adventures 2011
     Kayaking Adventures 2010
     Kayaking Adventures 2009
     Kayaking Adventures 2008
     Kayaking Adventures 2007
     Kayaking Adventures 2006
     Kayaking Adventures 2005 and Before

Kayaking Facts
Hull speed
Sometimes referred to as displacement speed, is the speed of a boat at which the bow and stern waves interfere constructively, creating relatively large waves, and thus a relatively large value of wave drag. Though the term "hull speed" seems to suggest that it is some sort of "speed limit" for a boat, in fact drag for a displacement hull increases smoothly and at an increasing rate with speed as hull speed is approached and exceeded, with no noticeable inflection at hull speed. Heavy boats with hulls designed for planing generally cannot exceed hull speed without planing. Light, narrow boats with hulls not designed for planing can easily exceed hull speed without planing; indeed, the unfavorable amplification of wave height due to constructive interference diminishes as speed increases above hull speed. For example, world-class racing kayaks can exceed hull speed by 70%, even though they do not plane. Semi-displacement hulls are intermediate between these two extremes.
- from Wikipedia - Hull speed

Maximum hull speed = 1.34 * sqrt(length of the hull at the waterline)

Reduced core body temperature devlops more slowly than the immediate effects of cold water immersion. Survival tables show that an adult dressed in average clothing may remain conscious for 30 minutes at 40 degrees fahrenheit and perhaps one hour in water at 50 degrees fahrenheit. Any movement in the water accelerates heat loss. Without thermal protection, the victim, though conscious, is soon helpless due to swimming failure. Without the life jacket, drowning is unavoidable.

Cold water conducts heat 25 times faster than air. Water removes heat from the body 4 times faster than air at the same temperature. Physical activity such as swimming, or other struggling in the water increases heat loss. Survival time can be reduced to minutes. Strong swimmers have died before swimming 100 yards in cold water. In water under 40 degrees fahrenheit, victims have died before swimming 100 feet.

Shivering occurs as body temperature drops from 97 degrees fahrenheit down to 90 degrees fahrenheit. Muscle rigidity and loss of manual dexterity, physical helplessness, and loss of mental capacity occurs at about 93 degrees fahrenheit. Unconsciousness occurs at a core temperature of about 86 degrees fahrenheit. Death follows at a core temperature of about 80 degrees fahrenheit.

If you are in the water, unable to get back in your boat, wearing a life jacket, but are not dressed for cold water immersion, fold your arms, cross your legs, and float quietly. This is the Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP). If 2 or more people are in the water, put your arms around one another. Stay still and close together (Huddle Posture). Swim only if safety is nearby.
- from "Operation Paddle Smart" flyer (broken link as of 2018)

Operation Paddle Smart Vessel Identification Stickers
Non-power boats such as kayaks, canoes, row boats and small sail boats typically do not provide a way of identifying the owner or allowing them to be contacted. To help address this problem, the USCG and Coast Guard Auxiliary have launched Operation Paddle Smart to create an improvised means of vessel identification for small non-power watercraft. This program, although primarily aimed at paddle craft owners, can benefit all vessel owners, boaters, emergency responders and taxpayers (by reducing the money wasted on unnecessary search and rescue cases).

Tide Terminology
  • Flood tide:
  • High tide:
  • King tide:
  • Low tide:
  • Neap tide:
  • Perigean spring tide:
  • Slack tide:

    Yolo Prowler
    After kayaking and owning kayaks for over 13 years, I decided to take up a slightly different sport...stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). This is still a relatively new sport here on the east coast but it is catching on quickly.
    ...according to a 2011 Outdoor Industry Association report, more people tried stand-up paddleboarding for the first time in 2010 than tried any other outdoor activity.
    - from "Manhattan Standing" in the March/April 2012 issue of "AMC Outdoors" magazine

    SUP is more popular in California and much more popular in Hawaii, where it has its origins.
    By most accounts, stand-up paddleboarding, or "Hoe he'e nalu" in the Hawaiian language, is a derivation of stand-up paddle surfing, also known as "Beach Boy Surfing," which originated in Hawaii some 50 years ago. In the early 1960s the so-called "Beach Boys of Waikiki" would stand on their long boards and paddle offshore using outrigger paddles to take pictures of tourists learning to surf.
    - from "Manhattan Standing" in the March/April 2012 issue of "AMC Outdoors" magazine

    I'm guessing the first time I tried SUP was 2009 with Neil. Neil has paddled sea kayaks, surf skis, and outrigger canoes. But he enjoys SUP the most. He says it gives him a better workout.
    ...paddleboarding provides a more natural position for exercise and recreation, incorporating the entire body and engaging core muscles to sustain balance and stability.
    - from "Manhattan Standing" in the March/April 2012 issue of "AMC Outdoors" magazine

    While I love kayaking, I find that my hip flexors get uncomfortably tight when kayaking. Perhaps standing on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) will give my hips a rest and work some of the other muscles I've been neglecting. According to "Oh, flat water" in the "Health and Fitness Living Here" section of the Sacramento Bee, July 12, 2012,
    For people who might have problems with their feet, knees and ankles, I will prescribe a fitness program where they can sit in kayaks," says Biondi. "For others, with lower-back issues like a herniated disc, standing up to paddle on the SUP board is better."
    Maybe tight hip flexors should be added as a list of reasons to take up the SUP-ing rather than kayaking. Or maybe I should just do more stretching.

    The second time I tried SUP was June 3, 2011. I really liked how having a vantage point a few feet higher than a kayak allowed me to see things in the water that I would have otherwise missed.

    The third time I took out an SUP was March 18, 2012 with Ben B. of SUP Annapolis. I tried out a couple of boards by Yolo and a 13 pound Infinity Aviso. At first, my goal was to find a 12'6" long board made for someone my size (petite). But when I tried out Denny G.'s 14' long Yolo, I thought to myself that maybe a 14' board would be better. I loved the speed and how well it tracked. I'm more of a long distance explorer than a racer but to cover long distances in a reasonable amount of time, I need a board or a boat that is streamlined and efficient. The 14 footer did that well. The only problem is that as of 2012, nobody makes them for little people. It seems like they would all work just fine if I was 100 pounds heavier.

    After giving it lots of thought and discussing things with Ben, I decided to get the 14' Yolo Prowler Race Board and an Riviera Expedition paddle. Originally, I thought these boards were made in Yolo County, California, which is near where I grew up. But they are actually made in Florida. Yolo is an acronym for "You Only Live Once."

    If you are wondering why I put SUP information on a kayak page, the answer is quite simply because the two are so similar and I don't feel that starting a separate page just for SUP makes sense. Many of the places I SUP are places that I could just as easily take a kayak and vice versa. If I had a a canoe, I'd also put that information on this page.
    Brom-Designed "Prowler" Race Board specs and features:

    Length: 14 feet
    Width: 27 inches
    Weight: 29 pounds
    Thickness: 6 inches
    Fin: 10 inches
    Construction: Carbon fiber/fiberglass and epoxy composite construction, covering an Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam core

    I was told this SUP uses an FCS style keel fin. I prefer a large, low profile hatchet fin. A good fin is hard to find. As of 2017, I use a Sup ATX fin that is about 7.5" deep and 14.5" long (front to back). It has a surface area of about 60 square inches. My backup is about 43 square inches. This Sup ATX fin is the best I have found yet but the customer service at Sup ATX leaves much to be desired.

    14'-long Yolo Prowler

    14'-long Yolo Prowler

    Sassafras River, August 12, 2012

    Sassafras River, August 12, 2012

    SUP maintenance

    SUP maintenance

    SUP maintenance

    Ben got me a sweet deal on this 2011 Prowler. In the first photo, I am using boat tape to mark the center of gravity...something I do with all my boats. For kayaks, it helps me position the boat properly on the roof rack of my car and for the SUP, it helps me decide where to stand when paddling.

    The second photo shows the ad at the time I bought the SUP.

    The third and fourth photos show me on the SUP on the Sassafras River on August 12, 2012.

    One thing I don't like about this SUP is that it tends to pull to the left. I inspected it thoroughly and can see no manufacturing defects. But the tendency to pull to the port side is not trivial and despite several attempts to modify my stroke, this imperfection still exists. Perhaps the flaw is in the paddler and not the paddleboard...I'm not denying that. If I could get more people to try out the SUP, then perhaps I can get their opinion but as it stands, the kayakers I know have no interest in trying out a SUP. In the meantime, I've been experimenting with fin attachments to create more drag on the right side.

    I don't know many SUP people so much of what I'm learning is through trial and error. Also by watching videos:
         Quick Blade (QB): The Very Important Paddle Stroke For SUP
         Nikki Gregg: Cross bow turn
         The Golden Rules of Stand Up Paddling

    How fast do I go on this SUP? On June 25, 2015, I did 10.2 miles in one hour and 58 minutes (5.186 mph) between the Harbor Hospital in Baltimore and the Inner Harbor and back. There was almost no wind. That's about my max speed over this distance.

    I'm not very good at rinsing off my SUP after every use. But in the late autumn or winter, I do a thorough cleaning and maintenance job. See fifth photo. In early 2016, I did fiberglass work and mini-cell foam replacement. In January 2017, I did a little more mini-cell foam work. In this photo, I am finishing off a wax job. I just use Turtle Wax for cars.

    In 2017 and 2018, I attached NRS SUP board D-ring PVC patches (1" D-ring, 3" patch) to my SUP. These are actually made for inflatables but I chose them because the E-Z Plugs that I've used in the past for fastening stuff was not suitable for such a curved surface. These were attached using West System G/Flex 650-8 toughened epoxy. The reason for this is so I could carry more gear. Maybe even do a SUP camping trip. To get the patches to form to the shape of the SUP, I put 40 pound bags heating pellets on the parts being glued. See sixth photo. Here is the result...seventh photo.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Prijon Catalina
    After buying fast boats and paddling longer distances on open water, I was starting to find the narrow creeks a bit more interesting and scenic. These are the rivers such as the Catoctin, Antietam, Conococheague, Monococy, and Middle Patuxent. Some are a bit rocky in parts. Others have a tiny bit of easy whitewater in a few places that could damage a fragile carbon fiber surf ski. But overall, these creeks are mostly flat so a whitewater boat isn't necessary...but a long fragile sea kayak isn't quite right either. Unfortunately, I didn't have a non-tandem boat designed for such places. The ideal boat for me to venture in such waters would be short, plastic (hence durable), and made for a small person. I checked out a few (see October 21, 2009) and occassionally looked on-line for sales.

    On May 8, 2010, opportunity knocked. Brad at Starrk Moon Kayaks, 497 Cold Cabin Road, Delta, Pennsylvania, phone: 717-456-7720 was selling a used Prijon Catalina. New, this boat sells for $1529. But the boat Brad was selling was owned by the Canton Kayak Club then by a man who bought it for his son but the son didn't like the color. It was an older Catalina with some wear. The bottom was a little sun bleached. The seat hardware wasn't secured properly. But with a half day of work and inspection, it would be seaworthy. Cost? A mere $350 plus tax. On May 9, I bought it.

    The seaworthy Catalina brings out the best in all smaller framed touring paddlers. Its stability and grace coupled with ample storage space provide the essentials for any touring paddler. This 15' 3" frame with lower deck and Trihedral hull allows this boat to glide, edge and maneuver at your command. The Catalina features an adjustable seat, thighbrace and backbrace for comfortable extended expeditions. Hatches, bow & stern, combine neoprene, polyethylene plastic and quick-release webbing straps for dry, easy use. Deck pack nets organize those small cumbersome items and the well placed deck lines aid in the event of a self-rescue. The ergonomic grabloops make car-topping this lightweight a snap. Day and or multi-day trips the Catalina is sure to please.
    - from "The Paddle Shack"

    Prijon Catalina specs and features:

    Length: 15' 3" / 465 cm
    Width: 21 3/4" / 55cm
    Volume: 93 gal/ 360 l
    Weight: 49 lbs / 22 kg
    Cockpit: 32x18" / 81x45cm
    Dry capacity: 7900
    Hull design: Trihedral
    Paddler Level: Beginner-Advanced
    Paddler Weight: 90 - 180lbs / 40-80 kg

    HTP Polyethylene: High Performance Thermoplast
    Trim Adjustable Seat w/Full Coverage Pad
    In Seat Adjustable Backrest w/Air Flow Cover
    Adjustable Padded Thighbraces
    Adjustable Pedal - Style Footbraces
    Spacious Storage Compartments
    Cable Lock Loop
    Bow & Stern Flotation Bulkheads
    Thermoformed Plastic & Neoprene Hatch Covers
    Ergonomic Carrying Handles
    Pack/Rescue Nets Fore and Aft
    Full Perimeter Safety Deck Lines
    Bow Painter Line
    Rudder Ready (mine came without rudder)

    Prijon Catalinas

    Guess which one is mine? Here my boat sits alongside Lisa's. Hers has the gray seat while mine has the black seat. I paddled her kayak for a few months so I knew the Prijon Catalina quite well. It is responsive, fairly fast, and fits me.

    Here's the story with this boat. Lisa first became interested in the Prijon Catalina when she tried out a similar boat at the Canton Kayak Club. After taking it out a few times, she decided to buy her own. Then when I was looking for a cockpit boat, she loaned me hers. I tried it out a few times and liked it too. I gave hers back and eventually found Starrk Moon Kayaks selling a used one. I bought it. When I got it home, I opened up the rear hatch and found that "Caton Kayak Club" was written inside. The boat I bought was the same one that Lisa tried out several years prior!
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Improvised sea

    Improvised sea

    Improvised sea

    Improvised sea

    Improvised sea

    In 2017, the effects of piriformis syndrome made paddling this boat quite painful. The other boats aren't extremely comfortable but this one is by far the least, even with a half inch thick closed mini-cell foam pad. So I decided to make a new seat. I first considered carving out some thick mini-cell foam to fit my butt. I ordered the foam and the tools to do this and watched Make a Custom Kayak Seat and How to Make a Foam Kayak Seat. I was very impressed with the results obtained by the builders in these videos but I was a little intimidated by the amount of work and skill required to do the job right. So I tried a simpler approach.

    I ordered the Beard Buster Jumbo Seat. It cost just over $22 in 2018. It is often used in tree stands and canoes. Features include

  • Seat dimensions 12"x15"x3". 3" thick
  • PVC coated waterproof bottom
  • Closed cell foam top and bottom, won't soak up water
  • Soft open cell center foam panel for added comfort
  • Snap hook allows for attachment to packs, bags, or vests
  • Closed cell foam on top
  • Open cell foam below

  • After testing the cushion out in the living room floor over a few nights of watching television and reading, I determined it to be very comfortable.

    I removed my kayak seat (first photo) and cut a hole out of it that is the same size as the cushion (second photo). Then I replaced the seat and positioned the cushion inside (third and fourth photos). It is a much nicer than the hard plastic seat that came with the kayak. The only drawback is it positions me slightly higher than the factory seat. See fifth photo. So getting my legs under the thigh braces is a little more difficult now. For my friend Sara, it was much more difficult but I figure it is because I weight a lot more than her and hence, I sit lower on the cushion.

    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Futura/Huki S1-A
    In my opinion, the S1-A is the fastest surf ski on the water at the time I purchased it. But it isn't for everyone. It is unstable and only made for experienced paddlers weighing 160 pounds or less. But these are the things that help make it fast. No waste.

    I've been interested in the S1-A for a few years now. I first tried it back on August 2, 2006. I knew then that this was the boat for me. On December 12, 2007, I ordered it from Futura. It was custom made to my specifications by Huki. It finally arrived almost 4 months later on April 7, 2008.

    On April 11, 2008, I took it out on its maiden voyage. I paddled 13 miles on Stoney Creek in Anne Arundel County. I chose this location because it is fairly sheltered. While I didn't fall, I found beam waves a bit challenging. I easily maintained 5-6 mph.

    The following was said about the S1-A in an interview with Jude Turczynski of Huki
    Your first surfski was the John Dixon designed S1-A that premiered in 2003. Can you tell me how that came about and what you learned from John and that experience?
    John wanted a surfski that really fit him well and I offered to build the first skis from his new mold at a reasonable price if he would allow me to manufacture and market the skis commercially. His hull design taught me and Jerry Montgommery that a nearly flat surfski hull could be a fast hull if you controlled issues, such as wetted surface area, prismatic co-efficient, beam, and rocker. We started to analyze design in a whole new way.

    S1-A specs:

    Length: 18 feet
    Width: 16 inches
    Weight: 22.5 pounds
    Maximum Weight Capacity: 160 pounds
    Material: Fiberglass interior, carbon fiber exterior







    The first photo was taken on April 17, 2008. I paddled near the mouth of the Severn River, launching at a community beach. I saw two fairly large fish mating. It looked like a wrestling match.

    I'm amazed that I still haven't fallen out of the boat (as of April 17, 2008) though I have yet to take it on challenging water. See second photo. Getting back in one of my other boats is easy. But for this torpedo, I sometimes carry a paddle float...just in case. In late 2009 I finally fell out on a windy day near Turkey Point on the South River. Getting back in was no problem. Just had to time it right with the waves.

    For me, kayaking and paddleboarding season typically goes from the beginning of April to the end of October. I might get in a little paddling between November and March but not much. Having this off-season time allows me to catch up on my honey-do list and fix up the boats. In early 2016, I made a console for my surf ski so I could mount my GPS and stereo. In the third and fourth photos, I just finished waxing them on January 2, 2017. Bags of wood pellets stacked up make a great working platform that conform to the shape of the boat.

    I've had a few dings including one that made a small hole just behind the rudder. But it was nothing that a little fiberglass and gel coat couldn't fix in 2018. See fifth and sixth photos.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Futura C4 surf ski

    I started paddling back in 1999.  My first boat was an Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro TW.  Since then I have owned four boats, all sit-on-tops.  Not exactly sure why I like sit-on-tops so much but I do.  In 2001, I decided that I wanted to cover more distance.  I think up to then, the furthest I’d paddled was only about 12 miles.  I checked out the Ocean Kayak Sprinter but couldn’t find a dealer who had any in stock.  I would have to pay for it up front and then they would order it from New Zealand.  If I didn’t like it, I was stuck with it.  I then checked out the Current Designs Speedster.  It is 20 feet long, 18 inches wide, has a skeg, and is made of kevlar.  I found out the Jersey Paddler had one so I drove out there to try it out.  I tried it out on perfectly flat water and fell out every few seconds.  I might as well have been riding a unicycle!  They had a used Futura C-4 in stock so I tried it out.  I was 20 feet long, 18.5 inches wide, had a gas pedal style rudder, and is made of fiberglass.  While it was very challenging, I managed to stay in.  I purchased it that day on May 22, 2002.

    The first year I had the C4, I tried to stick to calm water.  I fell out often but getting back in was simple.  I just kept practicing and the next year, I took it on some choppy waters.  Now, I can handle up to four foot waves.

    In 2004, I also did some racing.  I did the Lankford Bay Paddle Race at the Rock Hall Yacht Club, 22700 McKinleyville Road, Rock Hall, Maryland 21661-2141.  Not much of a turnout so it was an easy win.  Then I purchased a wing paddle and entered the Potomac River Paddle Rally at the Washington Canoe Club in Washington D.C.   There were some very good paddlers from many states.  I did about average in a tough crowd, finishing in 51:50 for a five mile race.  Since it was the day after Hurricane Ivan, the water was really moving and there were times when I had to give it everything I had just to keep from moving backwards when paddling upstream.  The fellow who beat me was paddling a Fenn surf ski.  His boat was 21 feet long, 17 inches wide, and weighted about 30 pounds.  The winner for the 10 mile course was also paddling a surf ski but his was a TwoGood.  TwoGood has a surf ski training camp in Hawaii that I plan to attend someday, maybe in 2006.  Both these fellows were the overall winners which says something about the speed of surf skis since there were many types of boats entered.  Both used wing paddles too.  I signed up and trained for the 2004 Susquehanna River Triathlon which encompasses paddling, bicycling, and running but it ended up getting canceled.

    The C4 seat is rather cup-shaped and makes one want to lean back. While it is comfortable, it doesn't allow one to achieve maximum paddling power. Hence, in 2005, I added some foam to the seat to enable me to sit more upright when paddling. I also added foam to the sides of the seat to accomodate a narrow hip person. Without this padding, rougher seas will make my butt slide left and right, throwing off my balance.

    In 2007, I found that the places where the adjustable aluminum footrests attach into the boat were leaking water into the boat. It originally started out only being a little bit but over the years, it became substantial enough so that I was hesitant to do a Chesapeake Bay crossing for fear of my boat sinking. I wasn't able to get into these small crevices which were made only large enough for the footrests to slide. Hence, I used Great Stuff Insulating Foam Sealant to fill the gaps. There was a small hole in the boat where the aluminum footrest presses against the fiberglass of the boat. I fixed this with a regular fiberglass repair kit (buy at any boat store). I also fixed some small cracks with BoatLife Life Seal.

    The footrests form a nearly 90 degree angle to the boat. My feet rest against it at more of a 75 degree angle. Hence, after a long trip or a fast pace, my feet will hurt (even with sandals). I cut some foam and attached it to the footrests so that my feet could press against them with the flat of my feet. More comfort means I'll spend more time on the water!

    My maximum flatwater speed (no wind or waves) is 9.1 mph for just long enough for the global positioning system (GPS) to register it. This occurred on June 21, 2005 while trying to keep up with a rowing shell.

    Futura C4 specs (mostly from
    Length: 20 feet
    Width: 18.5 inches
    Weight: 40 pounds
    Height: 11 inches
    Material: Fiberglass Rudder: Aluminum stern mounted flip-up

    Year made: 1996


    Saki on surf ski, July 17, 2004

    On July 17, 2004, I launched from the Harbour Cove Marina in Deale, Maryland and paddled to the town of Friendship.  The photo at the top of the page was taken on the same day.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    After purchasing my S1-A, I paddled my C4 less and less. I decided it was time to find a new home for it. I wanted to sell it to a young person with exceptional balance that might not have enough disposable income to purchase a new $2500+ surf ski. So on June 9, 2012, I sold it to my co-worker, Bishop for $300. He will share this boat with his twin. Both are twenty-something year-olds that can juggle while riding a unicycle.

    Cobra Expedition
    The Cobra Expedition is a sit-on-top kayak with dimensions more like that of a regular sea kayak.  One of the problems with sit-on-tops is that most are very slow and a few are very fast (surf skis).  There aren't many that are in the middle ground.  Many sea kayakers dread the idea of a sit-on-top paddling with them because such boats will frequently slow them down and for the most part, they are right.  But if you like stable sit-on-tops and still want to keep up with the big dogs, then you might want to check out the Cobra Expedition.

    I purchased mine used at Shank's Mare on September 29, 2002.  It is a good boat but it does have some drawbacks.
    • The rudder isn't as smooth and responsive as my C4.  Waxing the cords that control the rudder seem to reduce friction but it could be a lot smoother.  Still, it is satisfactory.
    • The round center hatch that rests just in front of or under your crotch when you sit in the boat is worthless.  It just lets water leak in.  I've since used silicone sealant to make this hatch non-functional.  I recommend you order an Expedition without this hatch.
    • The rudder pedals (gas pedal style) are adjustable for leg length but the boat clearly favors a shorter person.  My 6'2" friend can't possibly sit comfortably in the boat even with the rudder pedals set for the longest leg length.
    • The hatches on top use a locking mechanism comprised of several flip and twist handles.  Unfortunately, these hatches are not as watertight as the Ocean Kayak hatches I've encountered. I found that using 3/8 inch wide and 3/16 inch thick rubber foam weatherseal self stick tape can greatly reduce the amount of water that leaks in. A 10 foot long strip is more than enough to do both hatches. I think the more conventional hatches of the Australian Cobra Expedition keep out water better.
    • I'm not sure why, but the Expedition is not as comfortable as my other boats.  I've tried various adjustments with the seat and the rudder pedals but this boat is much more likely to make my hips sore than my other boats.  I seem to be prone to this problem so don't weight this too heavily if you are considering purchasing an Expedition.  People with big butts never seem to have this complaint. I have since made a foam seat insert out of an exercise mat. This makes the boat considerably more comfortable.
    • The venturi is large and does a rather poor job of sucking water out of the boat unless you are maintaining a pretty good that most people probably won't keep up for long. And it is so big that once you stop, the area in which you sit will quickly fill up with water.
    Cobra Expedition specs:
    Length: 18 feet
    Width: 23.5 inches
    Weight: 48 pounds
    Material: Super Linear Polyethylene (fancy word for a special type of plastic)

    Shark face on Cobra Expedition, August 2002

    Shark face
    In August 2002, I put a shark face on my Cobra Expedition.  I did this by cutting various pieces of adhesive boat tape.

    Fixing broken rudder pedals

    Rudder pedals
    One weakness of my Cobra Expedition is the rudder pedals. They are made of plastic and both have broken. In 2010, I replaced the broken part with an aluminum crossbar. I've been told that Cobra now makes pedals out of aluminum. They sell for about $30 a pair and can be ordered by calling 888-412-6272.

    Ready for camping

    Ready for camping
    In 2010, I decided to get serious about primitive kayak camping. My Cobra Expedition was the best boat I owned for this job. But even though it is spacious, I still needed to put some thought into how to pack overnight gear efficiently. Like backpacking, I want the heaviest gear nearest my center of gravity. For kayaking, this center is roughly at the boat's center. Heavy gear high up makes the boat less stable. Hence, I put my almost weightless sleeping pads up top. Heavy water bottles would go in mesh bags tied to the boat in front of my rudder pedals (see previous photo). The cooler (shown in photo at left) actually sits in a deep recess low in the boat. I made a spare paddle blade bag which not only helps protect the paddle but also keeps it secure. Things are arranged so that if my boat were to ever flip over while loaded to the gills with camping gear, I would not lose anything. As of 2012, I still haven't taken it camping.

    Inner Harbor paddling

    USS Torsk
    On June 30, 2011, I took my Cobra out in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Here I am posing with the USS Torsk, a Tench Class fleet type submarine commissioned in 1944 that saw service in World War II. Clearly, the shark face theme has been around for some time, both on boats and planes. It may not make me any faster but one can argue that it makes me look a little cooler...and Lord knows I can use all the coolness I can get.

    Venturi closed

    Venturi open

    Plastic weld work

    On January 12, 2019, I decided to do away with the venturi. What is a venturi?
    The venturi (self bailer)...drains water from the cockpit while you are paddling. When the venturi door is open/down a low pressure differential is created that sucks the water out. Remember to close the door if stationary or paddling slowly to stop water flowing back into the boat.
    - from Star Kayaks - FAQ

    In some boats (like my S1-A), the venturi works great. It is easy to get it up to speed where it sucks water out and when it isn't moving, it doesn't fill up with a lot of water. But the Cobra Expedition is not so fortunate. The venturi (first and second photos) is very large and even when it isn't open, it still lets water in. Maybe this isn't the case in a brand new boat but I bought mine used so that's an issue. The amount of water that gets in is pretty significant. It isn't a safety issue...just an inconvenience and discomfort...who wants to have their legs wet all the time? I'm not the only one who complains about this. I've read several blogs of kayakers who hate the venturi on this kayak.

    I consider this Norma's boat. In 2018, she told me she was tired of sitting in a puddle of water and asked me to seal up the venturi. I did this on January 12, 2019. I purchased the following:
         Top Kayaker - Plastic welding patch
         Poly Welder Pro Polyethylene Welding Strips - 5-feet (Blue)

    Then I reviewed YouTube - Boat Welding and Ocean Kayak - Welding.

    The plan was to cut the welding patch to the right size and then use the welding strips to use it to cover the venturi. Using plastic epoxy would be plan B. But in the end, I just used the welding patch for everything. I used quite a bit of it to cover the seam of where the venturi pops out of the bottom of the boat. It extends out from this in all direction about a third of an inch. I also used it to cover the entire venturi. I used a wide crow bar to smooth things out as best I could while the weld was still hot. I think my work is sufficient but I won't know for sure until after it has been on the water several times. It isn't pretty but I believe it is functional. See third photo.

    If I had to do things differently, I would have scored the kayak where the welding strips are melted to the boat. I used a heat gun but I wonder if a butane torch would have been better at gettings things more precise and only heating up the part I was working on.

    When I tested things out on the water, I was surprised that my plastic welding was not sufficient. Water still got through the venturi. Not sure what I can try next.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Ocean Kayak Cabo tandem
    One great thing about a tandem kayak is that is you paddle with someone slower or faster than yourself, you can always stay together.  I purchased the Cabo on August 15, 1999 from SpringRiver Corporation for $700 new. This store no longer exists but in its spot is Annapolis Canoe and Kayak.  It's a great boat to bring a date on.  It is stable and rugged and if your date accidentally crashes the boat into some rocks, you won't be quite so inclined to throw her overboard.  One great thing about the boat is that you are spaced far enough from each other so that you don't need to maintain perfect tempo to prevent hitting paddles together though some resemblance of unison is required.  The Cabo is somewhat stereotypical of sit-on-tops.  It is heavy, slow, extremely difficult to flip, and darn near indestructible.

    Ocean Kayak Cabo specs:
    Length: 16 feet 3 inches
    Width: 30 inches
    Weight: 76 pounds (don't even think of putting it on your car by yourself)
    Maximum Weight Capacity: 500-600 pounds depending on water conditions

    Sande with Ocean Kayak Cabo, September 1, 2001

    Merritt Point Park
    On September 20, 2001, Sande and I launched from Merritt Point Park in Baltimore.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro TW
    My first kayak was the Scupper Pro TW.  The "TW" stands for "tank well" since the boat is make to hold a scuba tank.  If you don't scuba, a beer keg will also fit nicely.  I purchased it on March 24, 1999 from SpringRiver Corporation for $690 new. This store no longer exists but in its spot is Annapolis Canoe and Kayak.  The Scupper Pro was a great first boat for me.  It is fun, stable, rugged, and inexpensive.  It is still on the slow side but compared with most sit-on-tops, it isn't bad.  If you buy one, I suggest spending the extra money and getting one with a rudder.  You can add one later but I've heard it's a real bitch to install.

    Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro TW specs:
    Length: 14’9”
    Width: 26”
    Depth: 12”
    Weight: 55 pounds
    Maximum capacity: 350-400 pounds (depending on conditions and hatch selection)

    Saki paddling by Sandy Point light house, June 20, 1999

    Sandy Point Lighthouse
    On June 20, 1999, I launched from Sandy Point State Park and paddled out to one of the lighthouses.  I just happened to run into Sean and Lisa from the gym who were out boating and Lisa took my picture.  Thanx Lisa!
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Kayak Land Trainer

    Here's something I made in December 2016. I call it a kayak land trainer (KLT). I built it using scraps to simulate the fit of my S1A Futura/Huki surf ski. It didn't take long at all to make using my sliding compound miter saw. The base is a 2.5" wide piece of wood to make it a little unstable and thus force me to work on my balance. The seat and foot rest are just the right distance from each other to ensure I can pump my legs and get good torso rotation. The "land paddle" I use (a chain link fence post) is long enough so I can grip it at the same width as my actual paddle but short enough so it doesn't scrape the ground. Using the KLT will help ensure I don't lose my kayaking muscle memory and core flexibility over the winter. It's a lot cheaper than buying a dry suit.

    In the first photo is the KLT. Notice the foam backpad, the backrest and footwells cut from 4"x4" lumber at 15 degrees, and the 2"x3" base. You'll want to make sure the bottom of the base is smooth so you don't tear up your floor when it rubs against it.

    In the second and third photos are me using the KLT. Notice that the arm forward and the knee raised are on the same side. The facilitates torso rotation. You shouldn't have to think about should come naturally. Some people paddle with straight arms or a high angle aggressive stroke. This is great for racing. I find keeping my arms slightly bent with a lower angle stroke is easier on my shoulders in the long run. But never bend your arms more than 90 degrees.

    In the video, you can see how I use the KLT in slow motion.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Storage Rack
    It isn't enough to just have the boats. You have to be able to transport them and store them. I use a Yakima roof rack to move my boats on land and I keep them in a home made storage rack when I'm not using them.

    Kayak storage rack

    Around 2004, I built a storage racks for my boats. I wanted a stand-alone rack that would store the boats vertically and be able to protect them from ultra-violet light. I normally keep the rack covered with a heavy duty marine grade tarp. The rack is made of wood, mostly 2x4s and 4x4s. It weighs about 150 pounds and is about 20'x6.5'x6'. Rubber extension cord hiders (not sure what they are really called) are screwed to the arms of the rack to prevent the boats from being scratched.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Kayak storage rack

    I gave away my stand-alone rack in January 2007. Since then, I built a rack that attaches to the support beams under my deck at my townhouse. I used pressure treated pine with a coat of water seal, metal corner reinforcements, and astro-turf stapled to the arms to protect the finish of the boats. While it doesn't appear in the photo, I also added a clothes line and hanging rods for drying wet gear. When working on this project, I learned just how easily pressure treated wood splits. So if I had to do it all over again, I would drill holes all the way through the wood and use bolts and nuts rather than wood screws.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Kayak storage rack

    In December 2009, I moved out of my townhouse and into a single family home. While the house is much smaller than the townhouse, the garage is much larger. So the garage became my gym, workshop, bicycle storage area, and kayak storage area. I made a freestanding kayak storage rack on wheels. It holds 6 boats but here I use it to hold 5 boats and my extension ladder. I have some room at the bottom for storing long building materials.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    How to Make a Tow Rope
    -by Brian Blankinship of Bay Kayaking, June 2006

    You can make a tow rig for about $10 bucks or so. The price will mostly depend on the hardware.

    If you are making a tow rig, think of it as four parts:
  • Belt with quick release
  • Caribiner
  • Rope
  • Bag

  • BELT
    Go to Recreational Equipment, Incorporated (REI) and buy a 2 inch cam buckle. While you are there, buy some 2 inch webbing (make sure it fits through the buckle and through the cam. Buy enough to go around your waist, the waist of anyone you anticipate loaning it to, and has at least eight spare inches. I suggest if you buy 46 inches you would be safe. It's not so expensive you can't just cut it off later if you decide it's too long. Ask them to burn it at a bit of an angle to make it easier to feed through the cam. The burn has to be flat enough to fit through.

    Then go to West Marine (or somewhere else) and buy a small ball. The type I'm talking about is used for the end of a bungie. It has a hole drilled through the middle, but one end of the hole is small so line won't pull thorough. You will also need about 6 inches of small cord and a small nut or washer that will fit in the ball.

    Drill a small hole near the end of the lever (flap) of the cam buckle. Tie the nut to the string, run it through the ball and tie the bitter end to the hole you drilled. You now have an emergency release that, when pulled, will open the cam. Sew the flat (not angled) end of the webbing to the buckle so that the angled end will feed through the cam.

    The caribiner needs to be strong enough to hold about 50 pounds and not rust or corrode closed when you are not paying attention to it. Northwest River Supplies (NRS) uses a strong, plastic biner. If I could find one, that is what I would use. They don't seem to sell them separately, but I didn't check the website, just the catalog. The next best answer for long term use would be buy a stainless biner at West Marine. Get the kind with the eye so once you tie the line through it, you don't have to worry about it coming off the biner. Unfortunately they are expensive, about 8 dollars. It will be the most expensive part of the rig. If you use this, you will have to think about some kind of float to hold that much weight up. I cut off a piece of a pool noodle, but that is very bulky. I would ask for suggestions at West Marine or wherever you bought it. The other option would be to buy a climbing biner at REI (or Eastern Mountain Sports or Hudson Trail Outfitters) with a wire gate. They only cost 2-3 dollars, but you will have to check it regularly to make sure the gate still works in salt water. Much lighter and easier to get something to float it.

    Why a float? You don't want the biner to sink. If someone releases it for you and you don't have control of it, you don't want it sinking where it could snag something and potentially anchor you to the bottom. That would be really bad in a situation where you could get pulled over, like waves.

    The rope needs to be 30-50 feet for your primary tow rig. If you are towing in waves, you don't want the boat to surf into the back of you. You want them one or two waves behind you.

    Three choices here. You can get a pre-made throw rope much cheaper than a tow rig. It will already have a bag and you simply loop your belt through the bag handle and attach your caribiner to the end of the throw rope. You are then done.

    You can buy Spectra or some other strong rope at a marine store. Again, I think probably 150 pounds strength is probably enough and any rope you find will be much stronger. You don't want the line on your primary tow rig to be too thin, you want to be able to handle it without hurting you hands even if it is being pulled hard. I say your primary rig because I just made a couple "emergency" tow rigs with those cheap caribiners that are trade-show give aways, and some really thin but strong line. That gives me a 30 feet tow about the size of my palm.

    Final choice. Go to K-Mart or WalMart and get the cheap line that looks like a commercial tow rig but only costs a couple bucks for 50 feet. It will be strong enough, thick enough, and looks pretty good.

    As mentioned you can use a commercial throw bag. If you make your own, there are two basic designs: tubes and pouches. Mine are tubes but if I made another I would make a pouch. A tube is just a sleeve with a draw cord and cord clip on one end. The other can be sewn closed. My homemade one has belt loops to hold it to the belt, but the rope is tied to the belt, not counting on stitching to hold up to towing.

    If you make a bag, either use a premade buttpack or make something like it. I would not use a zipper and would cut if off of an existing bag if I could. Instead use either velcro or a buckle you can quickly release to hold it closed.

    Paddle Grip

    Like a lot of people, I use heat shrink for electrical projects. In the first photo, I'm holding GLE2016 Black Duall Wall Heat Shrink Roll Tube Adhesive-Lined 3: 1 Shrinking Ratio Cable Wire Sleeving Wrap (30mm/1.25 inch diameter).

    I also use heat shrink for other stuff like patching a garden hose. In the second photo, I am applying it using the Genesis GHG1500A Dual Temperature Heat Gun on low setting. A match will work too but not as good. One unconventional use is for kayak paddles.

    Gripping onto a kayak paddle is more like holding a tennis racket than a barbell in that you want to be sure the blade of the paddle is facing a specific direction so you have a consistent stroke. A round grip doesn't offer this "natural point of aim." To change this, I attached two pieces of bicycle handle wrap on opposite sides of the paddle shaft where I place each hand. This makes the grip more oval-shaped. I've tried taping it in place but after spending a lot of time on the water, the tape starts coming off. Heat shrink works much better and provides a much neater finish. See third photo. Using different colors of heat shrink helps identify different paddles. Norma's Epic paddle has the red grip while my Futura paddle has the black grip. Twice now, I was in a rush and grabbed two male or two female ends of different, but similar looking, paddles. That hasn't happened since I started marking my paddles.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Dog Kayaking

    Norma and I plan to take Daphne on the water with us once in awhile. I am currently in the process of looking for dog personal floatation devices (PFDs). I am considering Kurgo Surf N Turf Dog Life Jacket and Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat. I ended up going with the former. Even at 29 pounds, a small still fits her.

    I expect that when she is on the kayak, she will want to stay warm and dry. To help enable this, I made a dog kayak cushion.
    1. It is black to help absorb heat.
    2. It floats.
    3. It is non-absorbent. Water passes through so there is no puddling.
    I hope this will help make Daphne's experiences on the water be as enjoyable as possible.

    I started by making a closed mini-cell foam core grid, using 4 inch thick foam (first photo). Each 4"x4"x3" piece (held together with parachute cord) is separated by a one inch gap to allow the cushion to be somewhat flexible and for water to pass through. It also makes this cushion extremely buoyant. See second photo. To the left of the core grid is a roll of BOEN Privacy Netting Black 6' x 50', w/ Reinforced Grommets that provides 90% blockage. I used this privacy netting to create a multi-layer case for the core grid. This is made to hold up against the elements. Most importantly, it allows water to pass through. It is totally non-absorbent.

    I need to add some corner loops so it can be secured to the boat. I might also add something reflective and light in color so I can easily find it at night or if it falls overboard.

    In the third photo, Daphne tests out her kayak cushion on dry land.

    We ended up buying Daphne the Kurgo Surf N Turf Dog Life Jacket. See fourth photo. On April 13, 2018, she tests out both her cushion and her PFD.

    Eventually, I decided that my dog kayak cushion was not such a great idea. Daphne prefers to stand. A cushion doesn't give her secure footing.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    GPS Sock

    On May 8, 2020, I made something I call a "GPS sock."

    When I'm on the water, I carry my Garmin 64st GPS in a Pelican 1040 waterproof box, first photo. I know these GPSs are supposed to be waterproof but I've lost a few older models to water damage so I prefer to keep them dry.

    The problem is that in the Pelican box, it gets pretty hot because it doesn't ventilate. A GPS is basically a computer and we all know how bad it is for electronic components to overheat. So I took a white cotton handkerchief, cut it up, and sewed it back together in a way that I could easily slide it over my GPS to protect it from sunlight. I used thin cloth because the GPS already fits pretty snug in the box. See second and third photos.

    Here is the finished product, ready to go into operational mode, fourth photo. Note how the antenna sticks out the top so it can still pick up signals.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Other Equipment

    My Gear Recommendations

    Aquapac sells waterproof bags for a wide variety of things you want to keep dry. Don't rely on the claims of your waterproof global positioning system (GPS) manufacturer. I've already lost one to water damage. Keep it dry and keep it working!. The Aquapac Small Electronics Case 348 works for the Garmin GPSmap 76CSx though after time it wears out and leaks. Instead, I found the Pelican micro case 1040 to be more durable. It fits the length perfectly and is only slightly wider than it needs to be. The only problem is that with a hard case, you have to open it up to operate the buttons on the GPS.

    Abus 1.5" Resettable Combination Padlock has heavy chrome plating for weather resistance and permits the user to set his/her own combination so you never need to worry about losing a key. This is a great lock for securing your kayak if you store it outside.

    Use BoatLife Life Seal to prevent small cracks in fiberglass from getting bigger. I don't recommend it to fix structural damage.

    I had a Garmin GPSmap 76S global positioning system (GPS) unit. That worked pretty good and withstood years of abuse. It even got run over by a car and still kept on working! I used to own a Magellan but I had problems with both that and the folks in customer service. In 2009, I purchased the color upgrade to the 76S, the Garmin GPSmap 76CSx. After that died, I bought a refurbished one because Garmin quit making them and I hate having to learn new technology. But the refurbished one didn't last all that long. So in November 2019, I purchased a new Garmin GPSMAP 64st which received great reviews. One of the big criticisms was how fast it goes through AA batteries. Then I found a website that recommended using Panasonic BK-3HCCA8BA eneloop pro AA High Capacity Ni-MH rechargeable batteries. They are a little expensive but well worth it. Using this type of battery made all the difference.

    I use Great Stuff Insulating Foam Sealant to fill gaps I can't reach when my boat has a leak. It is very messy and I highly recommend you wear gloves when using it. It is hard to get off what you don't want but when it is dry, it can easily be cut with a knife.

    KwikTwist is an industrial size twist tie able to hold up to 100 lbs. of weight. The interior components consist of a heavy gauge steel alloy wire covered with two (2) millimeters of plastic shielding. The exterior foam is soft and easy for customers to wrap or tie around various objects. KwikTwist will float in water and will withstand UV sunlight. Too many uses to describe.

    3M TM Marine (duo-lock) reclosable attachment system 06539 is stronger than conventional hook-and-loop fasteners. Great for attaching things to kayaks. Purchase at Boater's World. They usually sell the 3 inch strips but some stores have it in a roll where you can pay by the foot. If you use lots like me, you might want to just buy the roll, 3Mô Dual Lockô Reclosable Fastener System MP3560. I use it to secure hip and seat padding to my boats. The stuff secures well to smooth hard surfaces but for foam, use Weldwood Contact Cement. I don't recommend you use the contact cement on your boat; use it to secure the reclosable attachment system to the foam. Also, don't use a plastic stirring stick, it may get dissolved in the cement.

    Speaking of foam, don't use just any foam. Use minicell foam. It is flexible, fairly firm, won't soak up water like a sponge, and best of all, it is sandable so you can get it just the shape you want. I purchase sheets of various thicknesses and colors at Minicel Foam.

    If you're like me, you have plenty of wet gloves and booties after paddling in cold water. To avoid the wet neoprene/body odor smell, I suggest drying things ASAP. I made my own boot drying rack based on plans I found at free boot rack plans.

    I generally paddle kayaks with either a Futura carbon fiber wing paddle (purchased September 2004) length 210-220cm; an Epic Large Sprint Wing (eXcalibur III) Paddle, carbon fiber with length-lock length 210-220cm (purchased July 2005); or an Epic Mid Wing (eXcalibur Mid) Paddle, carbon fiber with length-lock length 212-222cm (purchased November 2004). The Futura paddle is similar to the Epic Mid Wing but with a round instead of oval shaft, a bit heavier, and without the markings for length and feature adjustment. The large sprint wing has about 13% greater surface area than the Epic Mid Wing. Though it isn't generally recommended for racing over 1000m, the eXcalibur III can be handled quite well by strong paddlers over longer distances. I set my paddles to 215-217cm, a 72-75 degree right hand twist, and grip width set to 26.5 inches when measured from the inboard side of one index finger to the other. He prefers the eXcalibur III for calm water conditions up to 10 miles. The Mid Wing and the Futura paddle seem to offer more control for rougher water. Over longer distances, these smaller blade paddles are less taxing on the body.

    For awhile, I wrapped the grip area of the paddle shafts with bicycle tape. Eventually, however, this idea was abandoned after hand fatigue was noticed during interval training. My hands are about 7 inches from the tip of the middle finger to the base of the palm...too small for grip padding. Now, two layers of double sided tape (only about 1 millimeter thick) are added to the sides of the paddle grip area to make the oval shape more distinct on the Epic paddles. For the Futura paddle, bicycle grip tape is added to the sides of the grip area to make the round shaft oval shaped; basically doing the same thing as with the Epic paddles but adding more thickness to the sides. I then wrapped this in boat tape, the same stuff used for decorative markings on power boats.

    While I was able to make the shafts of the paddle more contoured to what felt like a more natural grip, I found the boat tape to be quite slick and hard to grip easily, especially if my hands got oily (such as getting sunscreen on my hands). I wanted gloves that gave excellent grip, would hold up when soaked, and were thin. I ended up purchasing Under Armour Heatgear Z1 football receiver gloves. I wore then a little and then quit. I like being able to feel the contour of the paddle. Instead, I now just wear good waterproof sunscreen on the backs of my hands and the tops of my feet if I'm on the SUP. I recommend BullFrog Water Armor Sport Quik Gel SPF 50 Sunscreen.

    If you have large hands and feel you can benefit from shaft padding, consider using Bontrager bar tape, black synthetic cork with gel back and b-dot design. If you can't find this brand, use some other form of synthetic bicycle grip tape. The synthetic stuff should withstand the wet world of kayaking better than the natural stuff (supposedly). You should be able to find this at a good bicycle store. If you don't see it, ask and they might be able to order it for you.

    If you find your paddle shaft to be too slippery, I've found athletic tape to be helpful. Stay away from hockey tape. That is too sticky and will rip your calouses off (I know). Another good option is RsPro hex paddle grip.

    For my SUP, I use a 74.75" Riviera Expedition Danny Ching Carbon Fiber SUP Paddle which I purchased from SUP Annapolis on April 13, 2012.
         Blade Length: 17.5"
         Blade Width: 8.5"
         Blade Surface Area: 118 square inches / 761.3 square centimeters
         Total Paddle Weight: 20 oz. (approx.- uncut w/ handle)
         Angle of Blade: 10 degrees

    I found a few different sources that describe how to cut the shaft of your SUP paddle to the desired length and attach the handle:
         Cutting your Stand Up Paddle to the right size
         How to cut your paddle to the right length
         How to cut your SUP paddle
    What is interesting is that I got lots of conflicting information as to how long the paddle should be. Some say it should be 6-8 inches greater than your height with 6 inches for shorter folk and 8 inches for taller. Some say 10 inches greater than your height. Some say to use the shorter length if you are surfing and use the longer length if you are touring. A couple of sources say the length is correct if when you hold the paddle upside down with the handle on the ground, the flare of the paddle begins at eye level. With my paddle, it is a little hard to tell where exactly this flare begins so I don't like this method. Ben B. of SUP Annapolis told me the ideal paddle length is one where I can reach up with one arm and place my hand over the handle when the paddle is vertical. But this varies depending on the tilt of my shoulders. So I took the average of Ben's method and the "8 inches greater than my height" method. This gave me a length that was 9.75 inches greater than my height. Hence, my paddle is 74.75 inches long.

    In 2018, my Riviera paddle fell apart. The blade basically split apart. It lasted over six years and I put it through a lot. I started looking for a replacement. I remembered doing a race on August 2, 2014 where my palms sweat a lot and I had a hard time holding onto the shaft of my paddle. After that, I put athletic tape on my shaft which helped a lot. But I remember Neil showing me his Kenalu paddle which had indentations in the shaft, making it "grippy." I swore that my next paddle would also have a grippy shaft. On September 27, 2018, I went to Capital SUP and East of Maui (both in Annapolis) to see what they had in stock. They had no paddles with the kind of grippy shaft I was interested in. I contacted the folks at Kenalu and got recommendations. Then I read reviews on-line (Neverbored - Ke Nalu Konihi and Neverbored - Ke Nalu Mana). In the end, I ordered the Konihi 95 with the Ergo T handle and xTuf(S) Stiffer shaft. After shipping, the cost was $335. Based on what I read, it sounds like Kenalu is as good a paddle as any. The Konihi is their gold standard with the Mana being their platinum standard. But as of September 28, 2018, the Konihi is $130 cheaper. The weight is about a pound (453 grams) for both the Konihi and the Mana. I also considered the xTuf Maliko 95 which would have been heavier but more durable. However, the technology in the Konihi (winglets) had me sold. Hopefully, it will last at least six more years.

    There are various waterproof map cases available on the market such as the Omniseal Waterproof Map/Chart Holder. However, if you have much larger maps that need waterproof protection, try using Con-Tact Brand Clear Self Adhesive Laminate. An 18 inch wide 24 foot roll can be purchased at Rite-Aid, Home Depot and other do-it-yourself stores for about $15. This can be a bitch to work with and I've found the best way to use it is to lay it down on a rigid flat surface, sticky side up, then lay the object you want it stuck to on it.

    Pack~Mate Packing System enables one to store items efficiently while keeping them dry. I recommend you take fluffy items such as sleeping bags and clothes and put them in a Pack~Mate. Close it part way then put your weight on it to squeeze out as much air as possible. Then close the bag all the way. Pack~Mate is like a heavy duty giant Ziplock bag but big enough for a sleeping bag. It greatly reduces bulk. If kayaking, put the Pack~Mate stored it a dry bag. The bag is waterproof but if you really want to keep things dry while kayaking, you'd better keep them double wrapped.

    The Platypus Kayak Hydrator carries 60 fluid ounces and mounts on kayak decks or inside the cockpit. I carry mine on the back of my personal floation device (PFD) because my surf ski is not well suited for mounting a water carrier.

    I use Plexi-Bond glue for kayak repairs. I've found this glue to be easy to use, good on plastics, reliable, and water tight. Unfortunately, it is hard to find. But Devcon High Strength 2 Ton Epoxy is much easier to find. I used this for attaching my Futura/Huki S1-A kelp cutter and for attaching my Riviera Expedition paddle handle to the shaft. I buy this glue at Bass Pro Shop at Arundel Mills Mall. For plastic, I've had good luck with J-B Weld Plastic Bonder.

    The Roleez kayak/canoe cart RZ1-KCC has a heavy duty aluminum frame, kick stand, and large detachable wheels with pneumatic tires to help you move your kayak or canoe easily over all terrain.

    If you need to drill holes in your boat to attach a drain plug, deck loops, foot wells, etc., you should consider using wellnuts. I found these at Kayak Fishing Stuff.

    Having a comfortable, reliable personal floatation device (PFD) that fits well is important. So I use the Kokatat Sea O2 Life Vest in cobalt blue, small/medium which I purchased from on October 30, 2008 for $151.96. I like this because it is inflatable via CO2 cartridge so it isn't bulky. If the CO2 cartridge were to fail (unlikely), then I can inflate it manually. It also provides some floatation without inflation, though not much. It has a zippered and unzippered pocket and a compartment for my very high frequency (VHF) radio.

    I have a different PFD for my SUP. This is because a regular kayak PFD restricts the type of movement that SUP paddlers need. So I purchased the Onyx M-24 Inflatable Belt Pack SUP Lifejacket model 3045M for $111.95 in 2012. Like my kayak PFD, it is inflatable via CO2 cartridge and can also be inflated manually. It is Coast Guard approved type 5 with type 3 performance approved when worn. It also has a small zippered pocket. I ordered what I thought was a dark colored PFD with a plastic loop for clipping things onto but instead I received a light grey one with no loop. It still seems fine and isn't worth me mailing back so I kept it. But I don't recommend buying it from the place I did (Outdoorplay via I think you can get a better and more truthfully advertised deal elsewhere. After three years, the Velcro wouldn't stay locked after a full day of paddling so I sewed on more Velcro. This helped for another year but by the end of 2016, it was time to purchase a new SUP PFD.

    In the autumn of 2016, I bought an NRS Zephyr (model MB100M1001S) USCG approved type 5 user assisted inflatable SUP PFD with type 3 performance. This provides 16 pounds (minimum) buoyancy after CO2 inflation and 23.5 pounds after full inflation.

    For protecting the front and bottom of your kayak, SUP, or canoe, you might want to apply transparent aqua safe grip tape. I bought a sheet of four 1"x10" strips for $2.70 plus tax. This will protect your boat from wearing out when rubbing against sand, rocks, etc. It is flexible, clear, and thick enough to protect. But it isn't sandpapery like the grip tape on your old skateboard.

    I usually don't care to wear sunglasses. For kayaking, I never have because I get too much water spashed on them. But stand up paddleboarding is different. I'm high up enough so they can stay dry. Just need to remember to wear straps so they don't fall off my head. The pair I own is the Native Hardtop XP polarized sunglasses in charcoal grey. They are lightweight and fit well. They aren't cheap but at Tackle This Shoot That you can save a bundle. The first time I wore them in 2013, I saw 14 rays/skates in the water! Supposedly, polarized sunglasses are good for seeing critters in the water and now I believe it!

    I bought the Grace Eco Extreme waterproof speaker case for my iPod. It helps keep me entertained and motivated when I'm out paddling alone. It floats and does good even after big waves get water in the speakers. The sound quality is good for its size and price. It keeps my iPod dry. My only complaint is the hinges which are easily breakable. They are made of plastic but really should be metal. Their customer service people are very responsive. Unfortunately, as of 2017, this product is no longer supported and they do not carry the spare parts I need.

    Surfco Hawaii makes something called E-Z Plug which is a peel and stick surface mounted leash plug. This is great for attaching things to your kayak such as deck riggings. It works great for boats with gel coat. I'm not so sure how it would do for plastic boats. Just a will have to lightly sand the surface of your boat before making it stick. Also, it is only for flat surfaces. If the place you want to stick it to your boat has some curvature to it, then it may not lie perfectly flat.

    Even though I carry a global positioning system (GPS) when I paddle, I still like having a compass. My choice is the Brunton 58-Kayak Marine Compass. I attach it to my surf ski and SUP using the E-Z Plug (see previous paragraph).

    After Norma and I did our July 29 to August 4, 2013 trip to the Adirondacks, I knew it was time to make our kayak car camping and road trips more efficient. When I originally bought my 2008 Subaru Impreza, I only had the factory roof rack which only ran across the top of the car and not an inch further. That is, it didn't stick out over the side. This wasn't sufficient for hauling two kayaks. I hoped I could replace the factory rack with an aftermarket brand but the car was so new that none had been made. So I made my own. This worked fine for a few years but I knew I could do better and be able to haul more stuff with a commercial product. So in August 2013, I bought Yakima Control Towers, Yakima Control Tower Landing Pads, and Yakima 78 inch round bars, all from REI at their Labor Day sale. Total cost was $283.20. The control towers fit in special roof rack holes built into the top of the car. Now I know my car isn't 78 inches wide but the bars don't come in the size I want so I got the next size larger then cut it to the maximum width of the car (with the side view mirrors folded in).

    At this same time, I also bought the Thule 682 Side Kick Roof Box for $260.95 from ORS Racks Direct. This allows me to carry more gear but still be able to carry boats.

    One thing I hate about my car is the way the bike rack fits in the hitch. Imprezas are low to the ground, unlike Outbacks. Hence, most bike racks that fit in the hitch will bottom out on speed bumps or when driving over a not-so-smooth road. To fix all this, in August 2013, I bought the Swagman Trailhead 3 Bike Carrier from for $153. This bike carrier doesn't stick out as far and it curves upward, thereby reducing the chance of it scraping bottom.

    A very important piece of gear is what you wear on your head. It helps keep you from getting sunburnt and hopefully doesn't make you overheat. If it isn't windy, I like to wear a straw cowboy hat. There are lots of holes for ventilation and it covers my ears and the back of my neck if I tie my hair back. Plus, I think it looks cool. I wear a Broner RN41517 hat. If it is windy, then I don't want as much air resistance so I wear a cap. The Sacramento Workflex Cap by Carhartt is moisture wicking and fast drying to handle the hot, 100+ degree summer days in Sacramento. For this, I have an elastic loop that tucks under my hair to keep it from blowing away and to keep my hair out of my face.

    In August 2015, I stepped into the 21st century and purchased a smart phone. It has a Window operating system. I figured it would be useful for finding tide information when I'm out and about. I looked at various apps and after a pretty exhaustive search, I decided that Tides Watch was the best. It is similar to the TideSpy website but it allows me to save my favorite sites. It only presents info in easy to read labeled side waves. No tabular layout. The zoom and unzoom buttons are a little hard to press with a small display. Otherwise, I have no complaints. It would use TideSpy but it doesn't display properly on my smartphone. This app costs $1.99 as of the time of purchase.

    One piece of non-kayaking gear that I use quite a bit when kayaking and paddleboarding is my camera. As of 2016, I've gone through three digital cameras: Olympus, Panasonic Lumix, and now a FujiFilm Finepix F850EXR. The latter is by far my favorite with the Olympus second best. I found the Panasonic Lumix unreliable and their customer support slow to make repairs. At the time of this writing, the FujiFilm Finepix F-series cameras are no longer being made so I don't know what I'll do when this camera dies. It is not waterproof. None of my cameras have ever been because I want maximum zoom for taking wildlife photos. Thus, I carry them in a waterproof case. For my Fujifilm, I use a Witz Sports Case - DPS Locker.

    In March 2017, I bought a Canon Powershot SX720 HS compact digital camera. I still love my FujiFilm camera but after getting a lot of use over a few years, it isn't the same camera it once was. No fault of FujiFilm...I've certainly gotten my moneys worth out of it. But now the Canon is my primary. You can see my initial reviews in my March 25, 2017 blog. I think it will be a very good camera but unfortunately, the DPS Locker dry box I used for my FujiFilm is too small for the Canon. So for now I am using the Otterbox 8000 series dry box (discontinued) with foam padding. It works fine but the plastic clip is fragile and has broken so I sewed on a belt loop. Also, it is much bulkier than I'd like but I haven't found anything better for giving my holster style access while on the SUP for this camera. I think the S3 Dry Box T4000 is almost the same thing but with a clasp on the front rather than the side. If I'm not on the water and want quick and easy access to my camera, the Fujifilm F Series Camera Case works for both my FujiFilm and Canon cameras. It is minimalist, simple, effective, and inexpensive.

    Footwear is very important to me. On the surfski and SUP, I don't wear shoes unless it is cold. But otherwise, I prefer Teva Tanza sandals. I like the simplicity and the fact that it provides a nice, firm sole that is sufficient for walking on rocks. I don't like sandals that provide a lot of closure because then pebbles get in but they don't get out so easily. I prefer the openness of the Tanza. The straps are secure enough so I know they will stay on even if I sink down to my hips in mud.

    In warm weather I prefer to wear long sleeve Under Armour compression shirts with synthetic shorts that dry quickly. If kayaking, don't wear shorts that have a zipper in the back because that will wear against the seat and rub you raw. For the SUP, it doesn't matter.

    For night or low light paddling, I carry a See-Me 1.0 waterproof LED light on my PFD. It uses two AAA batteries. Very inexpensive, small, and lightweight.

    As of 2021, I don't have a drysuit. They are just too expensive and I don't much care to paddle in the late autumn and winter. But I do have a wetsuit for mid-autumn and early spring paddling. I use a 3mm NeoSport farmer john wetsuit, sold by Leisure Pro (via Amazon). The quality is adequate but the price is less than half of what most similar wetsuits sell for, and the reviews are good.


    It's easy to forget things when you're packing. That's why I like to keep a checklist for various occassions. These are just ideas to keep you from forgetting things you might need. Don't think I'm suggesting you need to bring everything I list.

    Day Paddle: Anywhere from a trip around the Inner Harbor to a 30+ mile Rich Stevens marathon paddle. Be sure to let someone know where you are going, when you will return, a description of the car that takes you to your embarkation point, any special medical conditions of you and people in your group (e.g. epileptic, asthmatic, or diabetic), and any other important information. This is called a float plan.

    Water: This is just a rule of thumb for me only. It will of course vary for individuals. Better to carry more than needed if uncertain.
    • One quart for 5 miles or less with moderate temperatures, paddling at a comfortable pace.
    • One additional quart for each additional 5 miles under the same conditions (e.g. 2 quarts for 5.1-10 miles, 3 quarts for 10.1-15 miles).
    • One additional quart in very hot weather or if paddling with a considerable amount of effort (fast pace, against a strong wind, upstream, etc.).
    • An efficient means of carrying the water. A Camelback or Platypus hydration system works fine and permits you to drink while on the move. Hooking the drink valve to a retractable badge holder keeps the valve accessible and avoids fumbling to reattach the clip. Standard canteens or water bottles are fine too if you can find a place on your boat you can access them easily.
    Food: Another rule of thumb.
    • 500 calories for every 2 hours with moderate temperatures, paddling at a comfortable pace.
    • Be sure to include complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat. A large percentage of the calories consumed should be in the form of complex carbohydrates. A few simple carbohydrates are fine but the bulk of the carbs should come from the complex.
    • 200 additional calories if paddling with a considerable amount of effort (fast pace, against a strong wind, upstream, etc.).
    • Leave bulky food with few calories at home. Instead, pack calorie dense, low maintenance foods if space is of concern. Nuts, jerky, and trail mix are perfect for this. Tortillas are better than bagels. Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are calorie dense, well balanced, and last for years if unopened. After shipping, MREs cost $6.58 each if ordered by the case (as of 2004).
    If you paddle a cockpit kayak (not sit-on-top), you may need a few extra items:
    • Paddle float.
    • Bilge pump.
    • Spray skirt.
    • Floatation devices for your boat.
    • Sponge for soaking up water the bilge pump doesn't get.
    • Ping pong paddle (as an emergency roll device) in case you are stuck upside down without a paddle.
    • Nose clip.
    Cold weather gear, depending on the season. Remember to consider both the air temperature and the water temperature. Don't assume you will remain upright on your boat at all times.
    • Wet suit in spring or late fall. I wear a farmer john wetsuit and I also have a HydroSkin G2 neoprene long sleeve pullover. If wearing a neoprene top with sleeves, consider wearing something such as Under Armour underneathe to reduce friction in your upper arms.
    • Dry suit in the winter.
    • Insulated footwear. I prefer neoprene diving footwear with sandals two sizes too big on top of them. The neoprene footwear keeps my feet warm but offers little protection from rocks when I go ashore. That's where the sandals come in.
    • Heargear. In really cold conditions, you might want a drysuit hood or a neoprene hood but be careful you don't overheat.
    • Gloves or mittens. The dry suit or neoprene gloves work fine. There are also special handwarmers called poggies that cover both the hand and the paddle.
    Personal floatation device (PFD).


    Paddle leash if the water starts getting rough.

    Kayak seats/cushions.

    Saw, if you plan on paddling through areas where there might be fallen trees.

    Cable and lock for securing your boat if left unattended.

    Tow line if you are leading a group or your are paddling with people whose physical abilities are questionable.




    Tie down straps and/or bungee cords.

    White light if there even a remote chance you will be paddling at night. Also strobe light or flares in certain areas.

    Under Armour during jellyfish season. Supposedly, a very thin layer of clothing such as Under Armour will prevent jellyfish stings. It will also provide sun protection while providing minimal wind resistance and weight, even when wet.

    Though I haven't tried it myself, I've heard that Nidaria and Safe Sea will prevent jellyfish stings. If you get stung, you can use After Sting to reduce the pain. I've also been told that applying shaving cream to the affected area then shaving works. For more hints, see Jellyfish Sting Treatment.

    Ivy Block to create a barrier between your skin and poison ivy/oak/sumac. Be sure to bring this if there is any chance you will be bushwhacking. Also bring appropriate protective clothing. Be sure to wash off with Zanfel, Tecnu Extreme, or at least a strong detergent (e.g. dish soap) immediately after. And clean anything that might have come in contact with the poison ivy/oak/sumac.

    Something to break ice if you are a hardcore winter paddler.

    Any boater or safety certification cards that might be required by law in the location you will be paddling.

    A hat keeps the sun out of our eyes, provides sun protection to our face, and helps retain heat. It is especially valuable on the water where there is no shade and the glare from the water (especially when the sun is low) can make paddling uncomfortable.

    Sunscreen. Doctors recommend at least SPF 30. Don't forget the tops of your ears and the part in your hair if you don't wear a hat. For kayaking, I prefer Banana Boat Surf AquaShield which provides 8 hour waterproof protection.

    Insect repellant. In Maryland, you should at least bring this during daylight savings time. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. If you don't want to bring a whole bottle, bring Off Deep Woods Towelettes. If paddling in area such as Jane's Island, deer flies are a big problem, especially near the shore.

    Other waterproof bags as needed.

    A Marine Very High Frequency (VHF) radio, if you have one. If not, be sure to check the weather report at the latest possible moment before launching.

    Two way radio if you expect the groups might start to split up.

    Tide charts.

    Sunglasses. Keep in mind that you will almost certainly get water on your sunglasses while paddling. If you want clear vision at all times, consider going without and wearing a hat instead.

    Bandana to keep the sweat out of your eyes and to look cool (required for me but optional for everyone else).

    Snot rag (handkerchief).

    Hair ties if you have enough to tie back. Always bring a spare.

    Photo identification.

    Map of area you are paddling and a waterproof map case if it might rain.


    Notepad and pen for taking notes.

    Global Positioning System (GPS) and spare batteries (optional). Don't let having one substitute for basic map and compass knowledge.

    Keys to your car if you drove to get where you are. DON'T forget these.

    Money to make an emergency phone call, a cell phone, or a calling card.

    A first aid kit if you are leading the trip.

    Camera. Bring a waterproof bag/box or other suitable storage device. Don't trust non-waterproof objects to stay dry in your storage compartments. Anything that MUST stay dry should be double sealed. Don't forget spare film and batteries too.


    Toilet paper in waterproof bag.

    Small shovel to bury your toilet paper and number 2. A plastic shovel is fine sometimes but in many climates, the soil will be dense with roots and rocks, making digging with a plastic shovel impossible. Buy a metal one instead.

    Trash bag. Don't even think of littering.

    Binoculars if you think there might be something interesting to look at from afar.

    Also keep in mind the journey home. If you're smelly, sticky, and sweaty, you may not want your skin or clothes touching your car's upholstery. Bring a clean towel and/or a change of clothes for the ride home, especially if you caught a ride with someone else. Doing so will increase your chances of being invited back. If it is a long drive, consider bringing a pillow and snacks.

    If you caught a ride with someone else, be sure to compensate them for gasoline plus a little extra for auto maintenance/repair. Or, at least offer to pay for their meal if stopping to dine.

    Oh yeah...don't forget your kayak.

    Afterwards, be sure to wash/rinse/dry or air out your wetsuit, drysuit, and anything that came in contact with salt water, brackish water, or polluted water...including yourself.

    Car Shuttle: This assumes a car is waiting for you at the take out to take you (and possibly your boat) back to your car. Include everything from the Day Paddle checklist plus the following.

    Lock and chain to secure your boat to an immovable object.

    Straps to secure your boat to the car.

    Car keys (worth mentioning twice).

    Drivers license (also worth mentioning twice).

    Option 1
  • Change of clothes.
  • Towel to offer privacy while you change clothes covering your private areas. You can wrap the towel around your waist, remove your undergarments, then put on dry undergarments while the towel provides privacy the whole time.
  • Bag in which to place wet clothes.

  • Option 2
  • Plastic sheet on which to sit so you don't get the car all wet if you don't change clothes.

  • Bicycle Shuttle: This assumes a bicycle is waiting for you at the take out so you can ride back to your car. Include everything from the Day Paddle checklist plus the following.

    Lock and chain to secure your boat to an immovable object.

    Bike helmet.

    Bicycle repair kit.

    Change of clothes.

    Towel to offer privacy while you change clothes covering your private areas. You can wrap the towel around your waist, remove your undergarments, then put on dry undergarments while the towel provides privacy the whole time.

    Map of roads.

    Be sure your car has a bicycle rack and tie down straps.

    Option 1: This assumes you do NOT have a hatch that can be secured or other means to secure items at the take out.
  • Large bag in which to place items to carry back to car. Must be able to carry PFD and paddle. Be sure paddle can be broken down. It should either be a backpack or able to fit on your bicycle without affecting your ability to steer.

  • Option 2: This assumes you DO have a hatch that can be secured or other means to secure items at the take out.
  • Lock or twisty ties (cable ties) to secure hatch if necessary.

  • Hike Shuttle: This assumes you will be walking back to your car. Include everyting from the Day Paddle checklist plus the following.

    Lock and chain to secure your boat to an immovable object.

    Change of clothes to include walking shoes.

    Towel to offer privacy while you change clothes covering your private areas. You can wrap the towel around your waist, remove your undergarments, then put on dry undergarments while the towel provides privacy the whole time.

    Map of roads/trail.

    Option 1: This assumes you do NOT have a hatch that can be secured or other means to secure items at the take out.
  • Large bag (preferrably a backpack) in which to place items to carry back to car. Must be able to carry PFD and paddle. Be sure paddle can be broken down.

  • Option 2: This assumes you DO have a hatch that can be secured or other means to secure items at the take out.
  • Lock or twisty ties (cable ties) to secure hatch if necessary.

  • Car/Kayak Camping Trip: This assumes you will be camping a short distance from your car and hiking during the day. Plan to pack your food, trash, and toothpaste in your car if you are in bear country. Sleep with a long sleeve shirt and long trousers during warm weather to prevent that uncomfortable sticky feeling. Don't operate zippers near and insect net. An insect net gets easily caught in and ripped by a zipper. Include everything from the Day Paddle checklist plus the following.

    Change of clothes: Check the weather and plan for at least 15 degrees colder than the coldest prediction and 15 degrees warmer than the hottest prediction. If there is any chance of rain or snow, expect it. Also don't forget to check the water temperature.
    • Shower shoes: If there is a public shower available, don't expect it to be clean.
    • Socks: One pair for each day.
    • Trousers: Wear one and bring another and plan to rotate them every day. If bringing shorts, make sure to have at least one pair of long trousers. If gone for more than 4 days, bring extra trousers or plan to do laundry.
    • Underwear: One for each day.
    • Shirts: One for each day. If wearing sleeveless, make sure to have at least one shirt with short sleeves. If wearing short sleeves, make sure to bring at least one shirt with long sleeves. If wearing long sleeves, make sure to bring an insulated shirt.
    • Belt: If you're not wearing one when you leave, will you need one later?
    • Swim suit and goggles: If you plan on swimming.
    Food and food preparation: The calorie consumption guidelines from the Day Paddle checklist holds true if you are on the move but you might want regular morning and evening meals too. I won't go into details as far as what foods to bring but just keep in mind things like space, storage requirements, and preparation. If you're bringing the ice chest and the grill, then these things may not matter much but if you've got a small car already full of gear and other people, then space will be an issue. Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are great because they require no thinking as far as what to pack and they require no preparation. They're also great for the last minute camper.
    • Utensils.
    • Cookware.
    • Stove.
    • Fuel.
    • Wind shield to prevent minimize heat loss from your stove.
    • Something to clean your cookware and utensils.
    • Things to clean your stove if necessary.
    Tent or covered hammock. If you are certain it will not rain, you can sleep under the stars but I recommend using a mosquito net.

    Tarp roof covering for the common area. This provides shade and a dry area in very light rain.

    Tent stakes.

    Hammer for tent stakes.

    Tent footprint; that's the plastic sheet that creates a waterproof barrier between the bottom of your tent and the ground. Make sure this does not extend beyond the edge of your tent. If it does, it will only draw water to rest under your tent when it rains.

    Sewing/repair kit. Keeps small problems from becoming big ones.

    Sleeping bag.

    Extra blankets if the nights will be colder than your sleeping bag rating.

    Pillow. I don't bring one if I will have enough extra clothes that I can just ball it up and stick it under my head.

    Chair, optional.

    Isomat, therm-a-rest, or foam cushion to place between your sleeping bag and your tent.

    Clothes line, clothes pins, and hangars so you can let your clothes air/dry out.

    Laundry soap, brush, and/or coins if you plan to wash your clothes.

    Towel and washcloth.

    Flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries.

    Lighter or matches.

    Firestarter (such as magnesium) to get a stubborn fire going.


    Light stick (e.g. Cyalume) or at least something reflective so you can mark your tent and get back to it easily in the dark.


    Toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss.

    Wet wipes or other way to keep yourself clean if bathing isn't an option. Just don't use wet wipes and then take out or put in your contact lenses as the chemical in the wipes will burn your eyes.

    Shaving cream and razor (optional). Bring a fresh razor and possibly a spare if you expect to be gone for several days.

    Proof of auto insurance. On a long trip, you may be asked to drive someone else's car for awhile. Be prepared.

    Alarm clock if you're on an early morning schedule.

    Glasses, glasses case, spare contact lenses (mark left and/or right), contact lens case (mark left and/or right), and contact lens cleaning fluid. Renu Multi-Purpose Solution by Bausch and Lomb with a contact lens case will take up less space and weight than packing saline, contact lens cleaner, disinfectant, and catalyst. If camping someplace cold, be sure to keep solution someplace where it won't freeze. Clean and air out the case once you get home.

    Wet wipes or moist towelettes (same animal).

    Shampoo, conditioner, and detangling comb (optional).

    Dirty laundry bag.

    Dry bag or some other large waterproof bag to keep your dry clothes dry when it rains.

    Book to keep from getting bored.

    Earplugs, so the fellow in the next tent or those drunk college kids don't keep you awake.

    Cash and credit card in case you need supplies, gasoline, or car repairs. Bring auto club card if you have it.

    Prescription medications if you are taking any.

    Feminine hygiene stuff if you're a chick.


    Afterwards, be sure to air out your tent and sleeping bag when you get home.

    Primitive Camping Kayak Trip: This is for camping at those sites where your car will not be accessible. See the Day Paddle and Car/Kayak Camping checklists and add the below.

    Water purifier. Be sure you know if the water in the area can be purified. Salt and brackish water cannot.

    Parachute cord.

    Duct tape.

    To reduce the weight of extra clothes, bring not more than two pairs of trousers/shorts and shirts. You can wear one pair while the other dries at night or on the outside of your pack while on the march. Trousers with zip off legs are great because they double as shorts. On unmaintained trails or trails on which you are unfamiliar, be sure to at least bring a pair of trousers to protect your legs from brush and insects.

    Airtight bag for storing food, trash, toothpaste, and anything else that might attract animals when you are sleeping. Also a rope for tying it up where animals can't get it, a good distance from your tent. We call this a bear bag. When hung, it should be at least 100 feet from your campsite, high enough so a large bear standing upright can't get to it, and hanging from a branch weak enough not to support the weight of a small bear.

    Signaling and survival gear if you are really out in the boondocks.

    Lightweight food. Consider how long you will be gone. While MREs are a great source of energy, they are also heavy. If you will be near a stream and have a water purifier, it will probably be most efficient to bring some dehydrated food and a stove if you will be out for more than a couple of days.

    Afterwards, be sure to check your scalp and body for ticks and have someone check where you can't.

    Some people believe in bringing all kinds of backups and spare this and that. There are two rules I like when it comes to backpacking. Both are military but each has opposing views.
    • Travel light, freeze in the night.
    • If you can hack it, you can pack it.
    I also recommend you consider bringing spare water, socks, pen, lighter, film, food, batteries, toilet paper, earplugs, paddle, tie down strap, an extra water purifier filter, and iodine pills in case the water purifier breaks.

    Car Shuttle

    A one way trip is the best way to see the most scenery and cover the most water. When planning a multi-day "through trip," it is definitely the way to go. If paddling a river that might be narrow in spots, be sure to bring a saw to cut through obstacles. For me, the hardest part about organizing a one way trip is the car shuttle. Here's how I organize such things:

         T = The amount of time it takes to drive from the take out area to the launch area. Assume this time is roughly equal to the amount of time it takes to drive from the launch area to the take out area. Note that this doesn't consider loading and unloading of boats.

    Three trips
    This is the best situation. It requires vehicles that will carry a large number of kayaks, a large number of vehicles, and relatively few people. It is summarized as follows:
  • Trip 1: Drive to the take out area.
  • Leave enough vehicles so that all people and and kayaks can be transported to the launch site.
  • Trip 2: Have all people and all boats transported to the launch area with the remaining vehicles.
  • Everyone launches and paddles to the take out area.
  • Trip 3: Everyone gets transported to the launch area using the vehicles left at the take out area.
  • The vehicles at the launch area are retrieved.
  • Total transport time = 2T.

    Four trips
    This is the next best situation. It is summarized as follows:
  • Trip 1: Drive to the take out area.
  • Leave enough vehicles so that the take out area drivers can transport the launch site drivers.
  • Trip 2: Have all people and all boats transported to the launch area with the remaining vehicles.
  • Everyone launches and paddles to the take out area.
  • Trip 3: Drivers of vehicles left at the launch area get driven to the launch area with the vehicles left at the take out area.
  • The vehicles at the launch area are retrieved.
  • Trip 4: Vehicles are sent to pick up the remaining people and kayaks at the take out area.
  • Total transport time = 3T.

    Five trips
    This is the worst situation. It occurs when all vehicles are needed to transport the boats. It is summarized as follows:
  • Trip 1: Drive to the launch area.
  • Drop off boats and leave at least one person to guard them. Best to leave all people but 2.
  • Trip 2: Drive to the take out area with at least 2 vehicles.
  • Leave enough vehicles so that drivers of vehicles left at the launch area can be driven to the launch area with the vehicles left at the take out area.
  • Trip 3: Drive to the launch area, leaving no people left at the take out area.
  • Everyone launches and paddles to the take out area.
  • Trip 4: Drivers of vehicles left at the launch area get driven to the launch area with the vehicles left at the take out area.
  • The vehicles at the launch area are retrieved.
  • Trip 5: Vehicles are sent to pick up the remaining people and kayaks at the take out area.
  • Note that instead of leaving a guard with the boats, a lock and chain can be used to secure the boats to an immovable object for a short period of time.
    Total transport time = 4T.

    Suppose you have 6 paddlers and 6 boats. You also have 4 vehicles, any of which can transport up to 3 kayaks. Any car can transport up to 3 people. In this case, the three trip shuttle will work.
  • Trip 1: Drive to the take out area.
  • Leave 2 vehicles.
  • Trip 2: Have all people and all boats transported to the launch area with the remaining 2 vehicles.
  • Everyone launches and paddles to the take out area.
  • Trip 3: Everyone gets transported to the launch area using the 2 vehicles left at the take out area.
  • The vehicles at the launch area are retrieved.

  • Suppose you have 4 paddlers and 3 boats (one is a tandem). You also have 3 vehicles, 2 of which can transport up to 2 single kayaks and the third can only transport the tandem. Any car can transport up to 3 people. Only the four trip shuttle will work.
  • Trip 1: Drive to the take out area.
  • Leave 1 vehicle, 1 of the 2 that can't transport the tandem.
  • Trip 2: Have all people and all boats transported to the launch area with the remaining 2 vehicles.
  • Everyone launches and paddles to the take out area.
  • Trip 3: Drivers of vehicles left at the launch area get driven to the launch area with the 1 vehicle left at the take out area. This leaves one person left to guard the boats.
  • The vehicles at the launch area are retrieved.
  • Trip 4: Vehicles are sent to pick up the one person and kayaks at the take out area.

  • Suppose you have 5 paddlers and 5 boats. You also have 3 vehicles, any of which can transport up to 2 kayaks. One car can transport 3 people, 1 can transport 2 people while, and one can only transport 1 person. Only the five trip shuttle will work.
  • Trip 1: Drive to the launch area.
  • Drop off boats and leave at least 3 people to guard them.
  • Trip 2: Leave the vehicle that will only transport 1 person and drive to the take out area with the other 2 vehicles.
  • Trip 3: Leave the vehicle that will transport 3 people. Drive to the launch area, leaving no people left at the take out area. Now there are 2 vehicles and all people at the launch area with 1 vehicle at the take out area.
  • Everyone launches and paddles to the take out area.
  • Trip 4: The 2 drivers of vehicles left at the launch area get driven to the launch area using the 1 vehicle at the take out area. This leaves 2 people to guard the boats.
  • The vehicles at the launch area are retrieved.
  • Trip 5: Vehicles are sent to pick up the remaining people and kayaks at the take out area.

  • Suppose you have 2 paddlers, 2 boats, and 2 vehicles. Both vehicles can transport only 1 kayak and 2 people. Only the five trip shuttle will work.
  • Trip 1: Drive to the launch area.
  • Drop off boats and secure with lock and chain to an immovable object.
  • Trip 2: Drive to the take out area with both people and vehicles, leaving only the boats.
  • Trip 3: Leave one vehicle. Drive to the launch area, leaving no people left at the take out area. Now there is 1 vehicle and both people at the launch area with 1 vehicle at the take out area.
  • After unlocking the boats, everyone launches and paddles to the take out area.
  • Trip 4: Boats are locked up at the take out area. Both people are transported to the launch area with the 1 vehicle at the take out area.
  • The vehicles at the launch area are retrieved.
  • Trip 5: Vehicles are sent to pick up the kayaks at the take out area.


    Adventures, trips, boat rentals, lessons, outfitters, and guided tours
    Atlantic Kayak

    Bay Kayaking, LLC
    Kayak lessons, trips, and demos
    ACA and BCU Certified
    Highly recommended by me
    phone: 443-994-7990

    Cartop Boat Launch Site Guide - Anne Arundel County

    Chester River Kayak Adventures

    Chesapeake Beach Boat Rentals
    This wiii put you near the mouth of Fishing Creek in Chesapeake Beach. This is an excellent place for beginners to explore a quite, scenic, and natural area.

    Kayak Annapolis Tours

    Kayak Training and Tours on the Chesapeake Bay

    Maryland Boat Rentals

    Quiet Waters Boat Rental

    Shank's Mare
         2092 Long Level Road
         Wrightsville, Pennsylvania 17368-9038
         phone: 717-252-1616

    Shore Pedal and Paddle: Kayak, stand up paddleboard (SUP), and bicycle rental and transportation in the Saint Michaels area

    Super Fun Eco Tours - Assateague Island

    Camping links not listed above
    Kayak Camping by Andy Collins

    Articles about kayak camping and touring

    Tall Pines Harbor Campground
    I camped here back in 2004. A very nice campground with waterfront group campsites along the Pocomoke Sound, southeast of Janes Island. Not the best place to be during heavy rains, however.

    Equipment, clothes, boats, paddles, and stores
    AHH Heavy Fabric Webbing
    Order nylon webbing.

    Annapolis Canoe and Kayak

    Aquabound Paddles

    Boat/U.S. Marine Center
         6651-20 Governor Ritchie Highway (route 2), Governor Plaza
         Glen Burnie, Maryland 21061

    Boater’s World
         6711 Governor Ritchie Highway (route 2)
         Glen Burnie, Maryland 21061
         phone: 410-787-2334

    Boater’s World
         Solomon’s Island Road, Annapolis Harborplace
         Annapolis, Maryland 21401
         phone: 410-266-7766

    Boater’s World
         Price Club Plaza
         9991 Pulaski Highway (near Mohr’s Lane; take 95 north to exit 67A)
         Middle River, Maryland 21220
         phone: 410-391-1994

    Clear Blue Hawaii
    Transparent kayaks

    Cobra Kayaks/Glenwa Inc.
         P.O. Box 3134
         Gardena, CA 90247 USA
         phone: 310-327-9216
         fax: 310-327-8952

    Current Designs

    Custom Kayaks
    Makers of surf skis.

    Epic Kayaks
    A serious website for the speed demon in all of us.  Information about surf skis, wing paddles, and perfecting your paddling technique.

    Outrigger canoes, kayaks, and surf skis.

    European inflatable touring kayaks.

    Hungarian canoe kayak paddles.

    Kayak Pro
    For kayakers who want to go really fast.

    An add-on product used to protect the bottom and front of your boat. I've heard good things about it.

    Keystone Kayaks
    If you like fast boats, then you'll like this place.
    Custom made wetsuits

    Maas Boats

    Malone Auto Racks
    Because Thule and Yakima aren't your only choices.

    Mirage Sea Kayaks

    Mountain Surf, Incorporated



    Ocean Kayak

    Ocean Paddle Sports (surf skis)

    Onno Paddles

    Product reviews -

    Roof Racks - The Ten Best Kayak Roof Racks - [2020 Reviews & Guide]

    Royak kayaks
    This is the second kayak I ever tried. The first was a whitewater boat which I hated. But I love the Royak. Interestingly, I've never met anyone on the east coast who has ever heard of this brand.

    Rutabaga kayaks

    Salamander Paddle Gear
    A good source for minicell foam. You can never have too much of that.

    Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayaks

    SealLine Water Sport

    Vitamin Blue
    No, these aren't vitamins but rather roof rack pads. They sell some nice, thick 36" long ones with really cool patterns

    Werner Paddles

    Wilderness Systems

    WindPaddle Sails
    A novel idea...not just a sail but a window to see where you're going

    Also see Hiking Links then scroll down to the "Equipment/stores" section

    General kayak information
    Kayak Info Center - Kayak Dimensions
    Great info for the first time kayak buyer
    This is an awesome site with more information than you can shake a stick at

    Government organizations
    Department of Natural Resources - Maryland
    Phone: 410-260-8019 or 1-800-628-9944
    Call to report a marine mammal sighting, stranding, or death.

    Fish and Wildlife Service

    Maryland Water Trails
         580 Taylor Avenue, E-2
         Annapolis, Maryland 21401
         phone: 410-260-8778
    Call the phone number above or send e-mail to the below to be added to mailing list.

    The Maryland Natural Resource (magazine)
         580 Taylor Avenue, D4
         Annapolis, Maryland 21401
         phone: 1-877-620-8DNR extention 8009

    Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Free Publications

    Home Pages
    I used to have lots of links but everyone kept changing their site address.

    How not to do a Seal Launch

    Launch information probably not listed in launch sites
    Anacostia River Water Trail Guide

    Beach-Net Delaware and Maryland Boat Ramps

    Canoeing Guide to Western Pennsylvania

    Captain John Smith Water Trail

    Includes water trail information

    Maryland Water Trails

    Northern Forest Canoe Trail
    740 miles from Old Forge, New York to Fort Kent, Maine making it the longest organized water trail in the world! - Canoe and Kayak Launch Site Map

    Paddling in Delaware State Parks

    Paddling in Delaware State Parks - Other Locations

    Patuxent Water Trail

    Pennsylvania Water Trails

    Places to Paddle -

    Potomac River Boat Ramps and Access Points

    Includes whitewater paddling routes. For sea kayakers like me with plastic boats, look for class I-II routes.

    Susquehanna River Trail

    Thoreau Wabanaki Trail
    An over 200 mile circuit water trail through central Maine

    Youghiogheny River Water Trail - Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

    Local kayak/canoe clubs/organizations in the Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington D.C. area
    Baltimore Canoe and Kayak Club

    Baltimore Dragon Boat Club

    Canoe Cruisers Association

    Canton Kayak Club

    Chesapeake Paddlers Association (CPA)
         P.O. Box 341
         Greenbelt, Maryland 20768
    A kayak club based primarily in Maryland and Virginia.

    Canoe Cruisers Association
    The canoe and kayak club of Greater Washington D.C.

    Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association

    Monocacy Canoe Club

    Watersedge Kayak Meetup Group

    Find Latitude and Longitude
    Websites like Google Maps use a latitude and longitude format that doesn't always match what some of the kayak websites use. This website is good for mapping those formats and converting them to something recognizeable by Google Maps.

    Food Storage Chart
    So you'll know how long food will last out of the fridge

    Fort Carroll

    Kayak Info Center - Bioluminescence Kayaking: What Is It?

    Leave No Trace: Center for Outdoor Ethics

    Jim Miller
    I've heard this guy is good at fiberglass repair work. Lives in Maryland.
    phone: 410-268-5337

    Just Canoe It!
    WomenCan is an international group of women and men dedicated to creating race opportunities for women in the sport of canoe.

    Student Who Grew Her Own Canoe Out of Mushroom Thinks Fungus is Our Best Ally in Climate Change

    Swim Guide
    Determine water quality. Note that the numbers indicate the number of beaches. You then have to zoom in to get the info for each.

    Watershed Restoration Action Strategies

    Non-government organizations
    Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

    American Canoe Association (ACA)

    Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF)
         Membership information: 1-888-SAVEBAY
         Philip Merrill Environmental Center
         6 Herndon Avenue
         Annapolis, MD 21403
         phone: 410-268-8816, 410-269-0481 (from Baltimore), 301-261-2350 (from D.C. metro)

    Friends of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

    Team River Runner (TRR): Helping our wounded veterans

    Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Organization
    Phone: 302-737-9543
    Call to report birds in need of rescue.

    Virginia Marine Science Museum
    Call 757-437-6159 to report sightings of dead, injured, netbound, or stranded whales, dolphins, or sea turtles.

    Outrigger canoe information
    Outrigger Canoe Paddling

    Park information probably not listed in launch sites
    Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia
    Supposedly has good kayaking

    False Cape State Park
    Primitive camping in one of the last undisturbed coastal environments on the East Coast

    Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge/Mason Neck State Park
    Good for seeing bald eagles. Kayak and canoe rental available

    Pohick Bay Regional Park
    This website also lists a multitude of links to nearby campsites, parks, and white water paddling sites

    State Forest and Park Trail Guide Order Form (Maryland)
    Also order water trail maps

    Race links
    Kent Island Outrigger Canoe Club

    Wye Island Regatta

    Rafting and tubing
    Harpers Ferry Adventure Center

    Kayak Shack - Harpers Ferry

    River Riders - Harpers Ferry

    River and Trail Outfitters - Harpers Ferry

    Sit-on-top kayak information
    Sit-on-Top Kayaking

    Surf ski information
    Surf Ski Info

    Surfing information
    Assateague Island surfing

    Folly Beach (City), South Carolina
    Folly Beach, South Carolina
    The world kayak surfing championships were held there

    Sunset Beach, North Carolina

    Tybee Island, Georgia surf report
    A recommended place to practice your kayak surfing skills

    Tybee Island Online
    To plan you next trip to Tybee Island

    Wilderness First Aid Classes

    Weather, tide, and navigation
    Chesapeake Bay Weather and Tides

    Coastal Water Temperature Guide

    Free Tide Tables


    Maryland Tide Finder

    Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center

    National Data Buoy Center, Station TPLM2 (Thomas Point)
    Chesapeake Bay water temperatures

    National Data Buoy Center, Station 44009 (Delaware Bay)
    Open ocean water temperatures for 26 nautical miles southeast of Cape May, New Jersey

    National Oceanic and Atomospheric Administration (NOAA)

    NOAA Nautical Charts

    Real Time Data for Maryland (U.S. Geological Survey)

    Salt Water Tides: Maryland
    I use this site alot

    Salt Water Tides: Potomac

    Statute and Nautical Miles Calculator

    TerraServer Satellite Photos, Aerial Photography, and Images

    Tides and Solunar Tables provides tide tables and solunar tables for the United States and US Territories.


    Check the tide anywhere in the world

    This is my absolute FAVORITE site for finding tide information. It lists each tide info point on a map to make things easy to read

    Unit Conversion

    Maryland and Delaware Canoe Trails by Edward Gertler. Published by Seneca Press, 2002.

    Sea Kayaking the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. Area by Michaela Gaaserud. Published by Rainmaker Publishing, 2007.

    Kayaking Notes


    One nautical mile is equal to one minute of latitude.
    1 nautical mile = 1.1507794 statute mile
    1 statute mile = 0.8689762 nautical mile

    Visibility to the horizon on a clear day is about 12 miles.
    One knot is equal to a velocity of one nautical mile per hour.
    For more information on navigation, see hiking/Skills and Knowledge.


    An average of 73 people are killed by lightning every year. Kayakers are particularly at risk when an electrical storm is near. To determine how far away lightning is occurring, count the seconds from the time the bolt is sighted to when the thunder is heard. Divide the seconds by 5 to approximate the number of miles away the lightning is occurring. The National Severe Storms Laboratory suggests that when the flash-to-bang count is 30 seconds (about 6 miles away) or less, all people in the area should look for a safe location. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning or sound of thunder before resuming activities. Note that this rule of thumb was not devised for boaters who might want take extra safety precautions.
    Source: "Flash Dance" by Dwayne N. Jackson which appeared in the September 2004 issue of "Muscle and Fitness."

    The most likely times to be struck by lightning are from late spring to early fall with the highest risk being in the summer from 1500 to 2000.

    If a storm catches you in the open, protect your ears, remain low, and make minimal contact with the ground.

    If you hear thunder 30 seconds or less after you see lightning:
  • Stop outdoor activity
  • Go to a substantial building or get into car
  • Wait 30 minutes before resuming activity
  • Source: Skyline Hospital Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Department

    Lightning Safety - USA Today (a broken link as of 2020)
    I get frustrated very quickly talking to non-technical folk about lightning safety. But it is hard to find any reputable source that will provide quantitative information. But this is one.
  • Only about 10% of people struck by lightning are killed, while the remaining 90% are left with varying levels of disability.
  • According to the National Weather Service, the USA averages 67 reported lightning deaths each year. Due to underreporting, the number is estimated to be closer to 100.
  • Salt water conducts electricity, which means that it can easily travel through the water toward you. The lightning current may spread out in all directions and dissipate within 20 feet or so, but donít bet your life on how close the strike will be. As the highest object on the water, you may be the most likely target.
  • Sound travels around a mile in five seconds at the Earth's surface.
  • Thunder can be heard about 10 miles away in a typical situation. In a noisy place, if the wind is blowing or it is raining, thunder can only be heard for few miles. In very quiet places, thunder can be heard up to around 15 miles. At night, lightning can be seen up to 60 or 80 miles away if there are no other clouds between you and the lightning, and the sky is reasonably dark. During the day, lightning can't be seen more than 10 or 20 miles away.
  • We recommend a 30-minute wait after the last flash or thunder. The two together provide the basis for the '30-30 rule'. The first 30 is for the 30-second flash-to-bang time when a safe place should have been reached. The other 30 is for the 30 minutes' wait after the last lightning or thunder.
  • A car, with its windows up, can protect you from lightning because the lightning will follow the metal of the car to the ground. If the windows are down, the lightning could jump into the car. A car's tires do not insulate it from the ground as you sometimes hear. A lightning bolt that's jumped through a couple of thousand feet of air - which is a good insulator - isn't going to be slowed by a quarter inch of rubber in a tire.

  • Paddle grip

    Round shaft paddles can be hard on the hands. Oval shafts are often easier to grip. If your shaft is round, you can make it oval by applying a layer of bicycle tape at opposite ends of the shaft, parallel to the shaft, then wrapping more tape around the shaft. Don't wrap the whole length of the shaft. Just wrap the area you will grip. This will ensure your grip remains properly spaced. Avoid using gloves unless you have large hands. The thickness of the tape will make the shaft larger, possibly too large for extra small hands. Secure the ends of the bicycle tape with marine grade tape. Also see my paddle description in Equipment.

    Paddle/kayak guard

    Not sure what else to call this. It is something you can make with a little padding and some boat tape. For padding, I use bicycle grip tape. Just stick it to your boat near where your paddle enters the water to prevent your paddle from hitting your kayak. Serious paddlers will often use a high angle aggressive stroke where the catch of the stroke is very close to the side of the boat. It is easy to hit your paddle against your boat if you are not careful. To prevent damage to either your paddle or your boat, this little bit of padding helps. I think of it as a skateboard rail guard except for a kayak.

    Sit-on-top (SIT) kayaks

    SIT kayaks are usually more awkward to carry than sit-in kayaks, especially for those of us with short arms.  When purchasing one, make sure you can carry it around by yourself unless you know without a doubt that you'll have someone else with whom to paddle.  All to often, the salesperson is more than willing to help you load up your newly purchased boat so you won't realize just how awkward it is to carry by yourself.

    After your purchase your SIT, use marine grade tape to mark the center of gravity. Since SIT kayaks are so awkward to carry, you'll want to make sure you lift it so that it is balanced. This is especially true for the long surf skis. Though they may be light, if you don't pick it up at its center of gravity, it could be quite cumbersome.

    When paddling a SIT kayak, your legs will be exposed.  Make sure you stay covered up or wear sunscreen on your legs, feet, and ankles.  Left uncovered, these areas will burn quickly since they will catch the direct rays of the sun at midday.

    Tie down straps

    After tying down my boat, I'd let the ends of the straps hang in the car, sometimes tied around the headrest. This kept the ends from flapping in the wind and whipping the car. Then one day, I was transporting my boat and another during a heavy rain. The ends of the straps hung in the car, as usual. After a few hours, there was a considerable amount of water in my car. The nylon straps soaked up the water and pulled it to the lowest point which was the ends of the straps. Now if there is a remote chance of rain, I make sure the straps remain outside of the car when they secure my boat.

    Night Paddling

    Some kayakers recommend moonlight paddling a few days (3 is good) before the moon is full. That's because the pre-full moon rises earlier, and will be well up in the sky by the time it gets dark.

    Waterway terminology

    The difference between a swamp and marsh is that swamps have an upper tree canopy and marshes do not. An expansive marsh is a wetland that surrounds a small body of water. A fringe marsh is a wetland that lies on the edge of a large body of water.
    - from Find Your Chesapeake Trips & Tips


    Here are some sources of information for improving your technique:

    "The Barton Mold: A Study in Sprint Kayaking" by William T. Endicott. Published by the U.S. Canoe and Kayak Team, 1995.

    "The Kayak Forward Stroke" by Greg Barton and Oscar Chalupsky. A DVD produced by Epic Kayaks, 2003.

    "Paddling Canoes and Kayaks" by Istvan Granek. Written by a Hungarian coach about sprint racing.