Kayaking in Southeast Alaska: From a Kayak Guide

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Photo By: Brittany Slick

Brittany Slick
Staff Writer

Last summer I guided over 100 tourists on assorted kayak adventures. My tour is scripted but genuine and my goal is to come back safe, but also have a good experience.
It’s easy to have a good time because it’s kayaking in Alaska, but there are some basics that can’t be looked over.
If guided:
Bring water
Kayaking can be relaxing, but also vigorous and exhausting depending on your effort. In either levels of activity, I highly suggest bringing water. You are using your muscles to fight the tide or waves so your body needs to hydrate.
Wear layers
You never know what the weather is gonna be like, especially in Southeast Alaska. It could be super sunny one hour and then pouring down rain the next. I would definitely wear multiple layers that are easily removable. You may get hot and sweaty while paddling, but it might also be raining and blowing sideways. Just always be prepared.
Waterproof everything- NO COTTON
This one is especially geared to outer garments. While paddling, water comes up in your lap, you might even find yourself dipping your arm in, let me tell you, you will definitely get a little wet no matter what. The most important thing is wearing and bringing things that you can waterproof as much as possible. Any gloves that are not neoprene material are the worst things you could ever bring kayaking. Once they get wet, they will never dry and your hands will slowly become numb leaving you miserable the entire trip. Same with sweatshirts or pants, NEVER WEAR COTTON. I recommend a fleece material for warmth and a rain jacket and rain pants over.
Dry Bag: The Ultimate Alaskan Purse
Waterproof camera, waterproof phone case, waterproof GoPro– all these things are great, but they won’t be so great at the bottom of the ocean with the whales. A dry bag is a great solution to bringing what you want on a kayak without having to worry about waterproofing everything and making it float. The handy dandy little floating neoprene bag of goodness can fit anything and everything you would need: phone, camera, sunglasses, extra layers, snacks, water, etc.
https://www.seallinegear.com/
If unguided:
Bring a radio
You never know what will happen out on the water, so you always want to be prepared with a communication device. When crossing major traffic areas, especially cruise ship paths, you need to do a “securite” call to make other boats aware of your crossing. They can call back on the main channel and tell you to wait for them to pass or go through.
If you can’t go with me, always go with a buddy
Kayaking is even more enjoyable when you have someone alongside you. But, bringing a buddy isn’t just for enjoyment purposes. You never know what is gonna happen out on the water, and it is crucial to have at least one other person with you in case of an emergency.

 

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