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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


Fox Island: Your Trip of a Lifetime Awaits

People come to Alaska for a variety of reasons. For the wildlife...for the mountains...for the isolation...for the adventure...for the bucket list...whatever their reason may be, there is one place that encompasses all that and more in my favorite place to spend time; Fox Island.

If it is wildlife you are looking for, Fox Island is a hub of activity for sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, puffin, salmon, humpback whales, and orcas. Being about 12 miles closer to the open ocean than Seward, Fox Island has the benefit of being in the feeding path of many of our marine animals. Fox Island is one of the few places in the world where orcs have been documented rubbing their bellies on the beach...the very same beach we launch our kayaking trips from. I was fortunate enough to be leading a trip on the water when this happened and it was a treat!

If you want mountains, Fox Island sits out in the middle of Resurrection Bay where you are able to glimpse the views of mountain tops created from two different tectonic plates that sit on opposite sides of the bay. Snow capped all summer long, our tallest peaks shoot up around 4,000-5,000 feet straight out of the water in a meeting between mountains and ocean that rivals any vista around the world.

If you like the isolation, a Fox Island trip may be just what you need. An already busy tourist town, Seward was put more in the spotlight by the national parks 100th anniversary celebration and a visit from President Obama last September. With several kayaking companies in town, Sunny Cove is the only one with an established base on the island and you will be sure to experience the peaceful nature of Alaska while on your trip. 

And if you are the adventurous type, there isn't a better place to explore than Fox Island. With trips that run from three hours to full day adventures, Fox Island has many route options depending on the weather, wildlife, and paddler abilities. And since you take a boat to the island, many of our trips and combined with a sightseeing tour of Resurrection Bay after you finish your paddle. 

When I first came to Alaska, I fell in love with this place I now call home. And of all the majestic and wonderful things you can see and do during your time in the Last Frontier State, make sure Fox Island is at the top of your list and check off that bucket list in style. It is a truly magical place and we look forward to seeing you out there on the water!

Looking over the Fox Island sand spit from one of the saddles between the island's mountain peaks.

Looking over the Fox Island sand spit from one of the saddles between the island's mountain peaks.

~ Danny

Staff Spotlight: McKenzie

Meet McKenzie! McKenzie is a fire spinning fermenting wizard that can ski. Or so she tells us. While most of our guides come from all over the lower 48 states looking for adventure, McKenzie is the rare breed that is actually from Alaska! Growing up in Anchorage she was privileged to have spent many years in this great state and decided to move to Seward for the summer and guide with Sunny Cove. McKenzie is a first year guide with tons of Alaskan knowledge and if you are into plants and flowers, she's the guide for you! We were excited to bring McKenzie on board and please continue reading below to learn more about this wonderful new addition to Sunny Cove!

Just off the train!

Just off the train!

Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska!

Favorite Food: It's a tie between salmon and coconut ice cream. (But not combined)

Favorite TV Show: Game of Thrones

Favorite Book: Either the Anarchist's Cookbook or Plants of the Pacific Northwest

Favorite Sport: Besides sea kayaking?! Backcountry skiing!!!

Favorite Animal: Caribou

Certifications/Degrees: Bachelor of Arts Degree in Ethnobotany, Wilderness First Responder, CPR, AIARE 1 (Avalanche Training)

Number one item of bucket list: I want to take an underwater photography/diving course.

Best Life Experience: I had a stint at a tiki bar on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Every night I got to watch the sunset over the bay and during the day I got to go swimming, kayaking, fishing, and ate copious amounts of mangoes and rum. It was really amazing there and I am planning a return trip. 

Best Alaskan Experience: As a child my mom used to take me out in the winter so that we could look for northern lights. I would get all bundled up and curl up in my sleeping bag amidst the snow watching the sky for that magical flickering. I always fell asleep before I saw the lights but getting to stay up late watching the sky with my mom is one of my favorite memories. 

Why I love to guide: I love to show people my home and the amazing wilderness that still exists in the world. Plus I enjoy the dynamic challenge that each day can bring!

Random fact: I love teaching people about edible foods, foraging, and fermentation. 

Personal Statement: Instead of a personal statement, let me tell you my perfect date. Let's go on an adventure, whether that be sea kayaking, skiing, or whatever else we can come up with that is active and that doesn't cost a lot of money. After that let's make food and celebrate being alive. Badda Bing Badda Boom. Party on Wayne. 

~ Danny