Does the idea of sea kayaking make you or someone you know feel anxious? Anxiety is super common for first time kayakers, but there is no reason to fear joining a guided sea kayaking trip. Most of our nervous kayakers feel a bit better after meeting our experienced guides and going through our pre-trip orientation. Almost all first-timers start with a few kayaking jitters, but find the experience amazing after just a few short minutes on the water.
Do you think you’re alone with your anxiety? You’re not!
Many of our pre-booking conversations start with some (or all!) of these questions:
Will I tip over?
Am I going to become ‘trapped’ in my kayak?
Do I need to know how to ‘eskimo roll’?
Will a whale tip me over?
Will I freeze to death if I end up in the water?
Do I need to have experience kayaking or know how to swim?
Will I regret not kayaking while in Alaska?
Tipping over is extremely uncommon, and is usually caused by folks who are feeling confident and have done something the guides cautioned about avoiding during the pre-trip orientation. We use very stable two-person kayaks and each year we paddle with more than 3,000 people. In a typical year we have 2-3 capsizes over the course of the summer. All of our past capsizes were handled by our professionally trained guides and resulted in the kayakers getting wet, reloading into their kayaks, and going home with an interesting kayaking story. All of our guides carry a full compliment of rescue gear, including a bag of dry clothing to change into should a capsize occur.
2. You might be thinking about those tight spray skirts whitewater kayakers use to help keep a watertight seal between their body and their kayak. Sea kayaking does not require such an aggressive fit, and we use looser fitting recreational spray skirts. These skirts are designed to help keep you dry from rain or splashing. In the unlikely event of a capsize, more often than not, the skirt will just fall off the kayak. Just to be safe, during our pre-trip orientation, we’ll teach you how to remove your skirt easily.
3. Knowing how to roll is a skill learned by advanced kayakers and definitely is not a skill we expect our kayakers to have before joining a trip. Our goal is to give you proper instruction on how to stay upright (it’s easy!) and what to do in the very unlikely event of a capsize. If you do capsize, you’ll help yourself slide out of your kayak, your PFD will bring you to the surface and your guide will assist in getting you back into your seat.
4. If you’ve watched YouTube, you’ve probably seen a sensationalized video of sea kayakers experiencing a very close encounter with whales. While this can happen, it is extremely unlikely. Whales are self aware, curious creatures, however, they also have a strong sense of caution and while they may pass within the vicinity of our tours occasionally, they prefer to give unknown objects (aka kayaks) a bit of space. Most people discover that seeing a whale from a sea kayak is a very special, indescribably beautiful experience.
5. The short answer is ‘no’. Resurrection Bay is influenced by warm water currents flowing through the Gulf of Alaska and the Bay never freezes. That means our water temperatures stay relatively warm, averaging between 49 and 54 degrees during the summer. While ending up in the water may be chilly, there is very little chance of any kind of cold water injury on a professionally guided sea kayaking trip.
6. Absolutely not. We specialize in first-time kayakers, and the vast majority of our paddlers have never set foot in a kayak. We provide personal safety gear, such as a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and a spray skirt. Each tour begins with a pre-trip orientation which covers basic paddling technique, use of the kayak and safety information. In the unlikely event of a capsize, your PFD will bring you to the surface and your guides will assist you in re-entering your kayak.
7. Yes, yes you will regret missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sea kayaking in Alaska is an up-close and personal experience that cannot be duplicated by any other type of tour. Our guides are incredibly good at putting people at ease and providing a safe, fun and memorable experience. Don’t believe us? Read the reviews below to hear the experiences of other trepidacious kayakers who chose to join Sunny Cove for an adventure!