How to become reacquainted with your kayak


When my husband and I bought our sleek kayaks, we imagined that some of that sleekness would rub off on us. We didn’t think the purchase of a motorboat would completely reduce our kayaks to background scenery—but we were wrong.

I recently reached out to Michelle Laframboise of ClearWater Design Canoes & Kayaks in Prince Edward County, Ontario, to find out how I could become reacquainted with the joys of kayaking. In the likelihood that you have also been ignoring your kayak, here are a few things that might help you get back on that boat.

Pick up a few basic techniques

When you think about kayaking, perhaps you’re like me and you picture yourself lollygagging on a calm lake in the comfort of your kayak. The problem with this scenario is that if you never learn the fundamentals of paddling, you run the risk of losing interest in the sport. After all, it is a sport known to burn calories and reduce stress, tone muscles, and get the heart pumping.

Most people are not inclined to take lessons because paddling looks rather simple. But your stroke could probably use a little attention, so don’t hesitate to sign up for another lesson. The good news: anyone can learn to kayak.

Thanks to YouTube, there are countless paddling teachers, shops, and organizations willing to share lessons online. But rather than watching four hours of paddling at once, learn one technique at a time.

Groom your family to kayak—or find an ideal kayak mate

For some people, kayaking solo is sublime—especially at sunrise or sunset. But if you’re afraid of getting bored, why not make it a family affair? Ease young kayakers in slowly so as not to discourage them. A good first step is to limit your first voyage to an hour. Before take off, tie a rope to the back of the adults’ kayaks, so when the kids peter out, the adults can start towing. Another important tip: always head upwind first, so that the wind is at your back for the ride home.

If the challenge is to engage a teenager, you may need to up the engagement factor and purchase the latest trends in paddle sports—a standup paddleboard.

If you’ve been given a free pass to steer clear of family engagements, now is the time to seek out the ideal kayak mate. Consider someone who has more experience and good technique. Kayaking with a group of friends is always great, so long as no one is training for the next Olympics.

Check to see if you’ve got the right kayak

Does your kayak offer you enough stability? There’s nothing like a couple of dunks in a cold lake to turn off a potential kayaker. If you’re not super confident about your balance and mobility, avoid the super tippy kayaks and stick with the recreational kayaks, which tend to be more stable.

Does your kayak offer you a good fit? If not, it may be time to trade in your kayak. As we get older, the sit-on-top kayak becomes an appealing choice, offering paddlers a more comfortable ride, lots of leg space, and an easy entry onto the kayak.

How long is your typical paddling excursion? If you normally call it a day after the one or two-hour mark, then a recreational kayak is for you. If you’re looking for a bit of an adventure and a chance to explore rivers and more advanced paddling areas, then the thinner, longer touring kayak makes for easier paddling over long distances.

Find the ideal place to store your kayak

Finally, the best way to fall in love with your kayak again is to be sure to store it as close as possible to your lakefront – and keep it within your sightlines. Storing your kayak on the top of the boathouse is a great use of space, but it might also be the reason you’re not out kayaking.