Training 2017 - A Peek Into Sunny Cove's Training Program

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a professional sea kayaking guide with Sunny Cove? The list of skills needed to make it as a guide with Sunny Cove is long!  Before guides even arrive in Seward they have already been through an extensive application process and have obtained a Wilderness First Responder certification.  They also have a huge study guide they need to review before arriving. 

When they arrive in Seward the hands on training begins! The first 12 days are filled with sessions covering hard-skills, soft-skills, interpretation and team building.

Our hard-skills sessions begin at the Seward High School pool and then progress to practicing in Resurrection Bay. We cover self-rescue, assisted-rescue, strokes and much, much drysuits of course!

We also spend a lot of time going over trip routes, naturalist information, interpretation, communication skills, team building and getting familiar with our local areas. And of course we paddle...a lot!

One of our most anticipated sessions is our visit into Kenai Fjords National Park! Our guides absolutely love kayaking near tidewater glaciers...and we had an absolutely glorious weather to kayak!

This is just a short summary of 3+ week long training program. What do you you have what it takes to be a part of the Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking family?

Take Your Cat Kayaking With Sunny Cove!

One of the biggest pieces of feedback we get from clients is that they wish they could have brought their pet with them. Well, Sunny Cove has heard your pleas and starting this summer, 2017, pet cats will be allowed on all 3-hour Lowell Point trips!!!

 Barbie the Beach Cat

Barbie the Beach Cat

You will have two options of where to put your favorite feline. If you decide to purchase an additional seat, your cat will have a cockpit all to itself (see below). Keep in mind you will be paddling a tandem kayak by yourself so make sure you are up for the challenge!

Or for just $20 extra, you can purchase our Cat Carry On option where your cat can sit anywhere on the deck of your kayak near your seat (see below). This option is best for those owners who are inseparable from their cats so we always recommend the Cat Carry On option for all crazy cat ladies.

Worried about the safety of your cat? Don’t be! We found 13 random stray cats around Seward and took them kayaking to see how it would work. We found that since cats have such a hatred of water, they stayed in or on the boat in every single test scenario. They also meowed the entire time so clearly they were all having a hoot! You can rest assured knowing your cat will be safe and protected during your entire expedition while having an adventure with you they will never forget.

Unfortunately for you dog lovers out there, we aren’t quite ready to offer the same package with your favorite canine. In our trial runs with 11 different dogs, six of them jumped in the water at the first sign of wildlife and we were only able to convince 3 of them to get back in the boat while the other 3 chased after a pack of Steller sea lions. We have our fingers crossed they eventually swam back to shore and found their owners. We will be doing more tests this summer to hopefully figure out a way to allow dogs on board next year so stay tuned!

From all of us at Sunny Cove, have a great April Fools’ Day and we hope to see you and your feline friend on the water.


~ Danny

Overcoming Your Kayaking Fears

As we get ready to launch many of our trips, we often get asked, "What body of water is this?" to which we excitedly reply, "You are about to kayak in the Pacific Ocean!" Paddling in the largest body of water on the planet, especially in the Gulf of Alaska, can be very intimidating to some people. Fear starts to creep in...Is it safe? Will I flip over? Are there sharks? etc. etc.

If you are one of those people, this blog is for you! Don't let fear stop you from paddling in one of the most beautiful places this planet has to offer. Here are some common fears we hear from potential guests and hopefully we can help answer them for you ahead of time to put to rest any fears you may have.

 Don't let your fears make you miss out on views like this!

Don't let your fears make you miss out on views like this!

Will my kayak flip over? Everybody who paddles with us will be put in a tandem kayak with another guest or guide. Tandem kayaks are extremely stable and it would take a lot to flip one over. We take out thousands of people every summer and on average have one capsize per summer with some summer having none. Usually if a kayak capsizes, somebody in the boat was doing something they should not have been doing which is why we do a detailed safety talk before any trip gets on the water.

How cold is the water and will I freeze to death if I do capsize? Water temperature typically ranges from 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the summer. If you did happen to capsize your kayak, typically the worse thing that will happen is you will be cold for a little bit. There are lots of rumors of how people die within 5 minutes of these Alaskan cold waters and that is not true at takes about 6 minutes for that to happen. Just kidding! After an initial 60-90 cold water shock, your body will actually adjust to the water temperature and our guides will have you back in your kayak long before we would have to worry about hypothermia. 

Will I get stuck in my kayak? Again, if you are the very rare person that finds themselves upside down in a kayak, water will flood your cockpit and displace you out of your boat. Your personal flotation device (PFD) will also be working to bring you to the surface of the water so you will be out and breathing within seconds.

Are there sharks? Will the whales eat me? The two main sharks we have are the salmon shark and sleeper shark. Both are extremely rare to see and do not interact with humans. And one of the most incredible things to see from a kayak is one of our local humpback whales or orca pods. Whales have a great sense of their surroundings and are not interested in eating you.

It's Alaska...won't it be super cold? It is over 80 degrees Fahrenheit as I currently write this so Alaska does have its hot days. Typically summer temperatures range from the 50s-60s degrees Fahrenheit. While that may seem chilly to many people, it is actually a great temperature to be on the water and the physical activity you will be doing helps warm you up even more. We always recommend wearing synthetic layers and water proof/resistant jacket and pants to retain your body heat and we even supply paddling poagies for your hands if you are worried about your hands getting cold. 

Do I need experience to go on a trip? We love teaching people to kayak who have never done it before! We would recommend doing our shorter 3 hour trip if you are new to kayaking, but we take out guests every day who have never kayaked. We supply all the gear you need and spend roughly 30 minutes talking about paddling technique, the kayaks, and important safety information before we even get in the boats. You gotta learn sometime so why not with a professionally trained guide?!

What safety gear do guides bring along with them? All of our guides are medically trained Wilderness First Responders and carry first aid kits with them on all trips. They also carry a boat repair kit in case any issues arise with your kayak. A bilge pump and sponge are carried to get any large or small amounts of water out of your kayak. Guides carry a large dry bag of spare clothes for any guests that would capsize. If a guest is in the water and is having trouble getting back into the kayak, our guides carry a stirrup strap that serves as a stepping stool to climb back into the boat. And if that does not work, a paddle float is used to create an outrigger which makes it much easier to climb back in. Each guide wears a tow rope and has the ability to tow boats if guests get tired, injured, or are having trouble maneuvering their kayak safely. And each guide straps a spare paddle to the deck of their kayak in case a guest loses or breaks their paddle. 

Will I regret not kayaking with Sunny Cove? Absolutely! Put those fears behind you and sign up today. Alaska is an incredible place to kayak and all your friends will be super impressed and jealous when you get back home and tell them of your Alaskan kayaking adventure. We hope to see you on the water!

~ Danny