Elie Sport

Starting Out

Shopping for a Kayak or Canoe

Photo by FG Collman

By Peter Zwagerman
Canoe Photo

It's not easy buying a boat given three-quarters of the Earth's surface is covered with water. According to Encyclopedia Britannica that's roughly 326 million cubic miles making water the most abundant substance on the planet. That's a lot of wet potential. So how do you know which type of kayak or canoe is right for you? The answer depends on where you want paddle and your skill level because kayaks and canoes are not designed to do it all.

To help put shopping for a boat into perspective simply ask, "Where do I see myself paddling?" Do you want to float a local lake or easygoing river? Can you imagine traveling the Big Deep Blue among the whales and swells? How about sliding over waterfalls or carving your kayak down the face of a 20-foot wave? Chances are good there's a kayak or canoe best suited for you and the water you plan to paddle, ranging from user-friendly to user-skilled craft. The trick is to match the boat to the water. And with all the water in the world, you'll be hard pressed not to find a place to go or a boat to take with you.

Once you've got a rough outline of places to paddle and a boat in mind, it is important to develop your paddling skill to match the boat and water you're planning to travel. More than one eager adventurer has bought a boat in the morning only to leave it broached on a river rock in the middle of the afternoon simply because he or she failed to take time to learn how to control it. Take lessons. Learn how to exit an overturned boat, strokes, launches, outfitting and self-rescue. Plus, taking lessons is a great way to test paddle several different boat types. It's a sort of "try before you buy" approach to ownership. It's simple. If you don't like it, don't buy it. With solid instruction and sound judgment you will decrease risk, increase fun and avoid dreaded buyer's remorse.

Shopping for a kayak or canoe is rarely a one-shot deal. With so many boat on the market finding one boat to do it all is hopeless. There's simply a lot of water. Take time to ask questions, find appropriate water, increase skills and try out several boats. Its fun to have a boat and paddle so make sure you have the appropriate craft for you and the water you want to explore.

Copyright 2001 Peter Zwagerman - Permagrin River Adventures. All rights reserved.


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