Choice of Craft
Canoe or Kayak? / Sit in or Sit on? / stand up paddle?
Choices are varied and often it will be a compromise. To help with this many manufacturers make boats that are able to cross over and be used in multiple environments. You first need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do you want to go?
- How many people out at a time?
- For travel / fitness / fun?
By asking yourself these you start to shape what your choices will be and ultimately what boat you will choose.
These are craft that can be enjoyed by many and be used in multiple environments. They are generally open top and paddled using a single blade paddle. Typically they can be paddled:
- Three persons ~ Two adults plus one child / three adults
- Four persons ~ Two adults plus two small (under 10) children
They come in many sizes but in the UK typically you will find the following readily available:
- 12 foot solo canoes
- 14 foot solo / tandem canoes
- 15 foot solo / tandem canoes
- 16 foot solo / tandem / three or four person canoes
- 17 foot tandem / three or four person canoes
Once you have decided where you want to go and how many of you there are then you can make an informed choice what you need to get.
The canoe is only the start of it. You will need to consider whether you add additional buoyancy to the canoe. Canoes are generally inherently buoyant but additional buoyancy added allows for the canoe to be paddled swamped and form part of your what if it goes wrong plan. This is an easy addition to make where airbags / blocks can be added to the inside ends of the canoe.
The only other addition would be that of a swim line. This in essence is a length of rope tied to an end and tucked out the way until needed.
These are sit in or on and are propelled using a double bladed paddled. You will be sitting either inside where you will have a foot rest and knee / thigh grips to help you control the kayak or on top of it and have areas for your feet to press against. Depending on where you want to go will be dependent on what type of kayak you choose.
Sea ~ Sea or Touring Kayak
Rivers ~ Touring Kayak / White Water Kayak / Sit on Top
Canals ~ Sea Kayak / Touring Kayak / General purpose kayak / Sit on Top / Open cockpit kayak
Lochs ~ Sea Kayak / Touring Kayak / General purpose kayak / Sit on Top / Open cockpit kayak
Some of these you have options of either solo or tandem. There are sit on tops and open cockpit kayaks where you can take up to three people which is usually maximum two adults and one child.
Again the kayak is only the start of it. You will need to consider whether your craft should have additional buoyancy in it. This is as easy as putting some airbags in the empty space. Most of the kayaks will have inherent buoyancy built in already but as with canoes having additional will aid if anything were to happen.
You may also need to consider whether you need a spraydeck or not. These are covers which go over the cockpit area. These will keep you warmer and drier. However, they also need to be known about as if you do capsize you will need to do something else to get out of the kayak. These would be advisable in general purpose / white water / sea kayaks and some of the touring kayaks.
Sit On Tops / Stand Up Paddleboards
These craft are becoming increasingly popular as time goes on. If you are going to get into these craft then there are some important things that you will want to ask about.
Do I need to add additional buoyancy?
Some of the sit on tops need the addition of extra buoyancy if you are going to take them out onto the sea or rivers. You would want to check at time of purchase.
Do I need a leash for either me or the paddle?
When paddling on the sit on tops or stand up paddle boards. You may need to consider the use of either a paddle leash or boat leash. These ensure that if you fall in you have a means of not loosing your paddle or boat. Consideration needs to be of how long and where to attach it to. This is something that you should be asking before going afloat.
These again are becoming more available and are a great way to get you or your family out on the water. If choosing these ensure that they will be able to support the weight you intend to use. They are very susceptible to the wind and therefore consideration as to where to use them should be high on the agenda. With these you should be aware of where you are going and have a plan to be able to deal with a puncture.