Guide’s Blog

How We Know What We Know: Tidal Changes

Weather forecast, water temperature, air temperature, average tidal change—these are probably four of the most important factors when planning a kayak camping trip in an unfamiliar environment, especially for a trip off the coast of Maine in late September. For our first kayak camping trip (circa 1995) we carefully considered 3 of the 4 factors.  We’d launched late in the day (see previous post) and didn’t have a route in mind. But we didn’t need to. Islands spread across the chart like freckles on the cheeks of a redhead. Our plan was to paddle until we found a hospitable-looking island, pull up, and camp.  Unusually warm daytime temps mixed with seasonally cool waters had resulted in a light fog settling over us and the bay. A lobster boat, engine droning yet invisible in the fog,

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The Hard Way: How we know what we know. Part 1—Dry bags

Circa 1995: We unloaded Mitch’s Sea Lion and my Scimitar from Mitch’s teal Ford Ranger, carried them close enough to the water that it was lapping at their bows, and set them down on the gently sloping, rock-strewn beach with sand the color of brown sugar. Next we unloaded all of our gear into mountainous piles on the pavement beside the pickup. Then we took our brand new roll of garbage bags (we’d sprung for the heavy-duty ones) and began bagging up our gear. In our excitement for our first kayak camping trip, two nights of island hopping off the Maine coast, we’d brought a ton of gear. We filled up bags, shoved them into bows and sterns, pulled them out, burped air bubbles, and jammed them back. More than an hour later, our hatches

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Congrats to Ms. B! Delaware STEM Teacher of the Year!

When Sarah Betlejewski isn’t guiding CK customers through the Delaware and Maryland salt marshes and cypress swamps, she is teaching science to 7th graders at Millsboro Middle School. Recently Sarah (known to her students as Ms. B) won the Delaware Middle School STEM Teacher of the Year Award. She received her award at the Delaware STEM Symposium on Oct. 8th. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. According to Sarah, “STEM focuses on problem-based learning where you take a current, community-based problem and try to create solutions with technology or engineering.” Not resting with just one award, Sarah’s students are also state finalists for the Samsung Solve For Tomorrow award. Open to public middle and high schools nationwide, the goal for the contest is to integrate the student’s learning with community leader’s feedback to

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Neil Baker

The Coastal Kayak family lost a treasured member yesterday. Neil Baker passed away in his home after his nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. I find it so hard to write these words because it was not Neil’s time yet. Neil and his wife, Patty, moved to Ocean City once Neil retired from Ohio State University as a Professor of Microbiology. He started guiding for Coastal Kayak in 2010 doing 5-9 tours per week, always willing to work doubles and pick up shifts when asked. His deep-seated instinct to teach and his eagerness to introduce participants to the natural world made his tours favorites with customers. He bought small, boxed-shaped microscopes to take with him on tours so that kids could get a close-up view of even the tiniest critters in the salt marsh. His

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A Paddler’s Christmas List

If you’re a paddler, all you want for Christmas is to be on the water. But since that might not be a possibility, a stocking full of paddling accessories is the next best thing. We’ve made a list for you to tactfully pass on to your loved-ones to avoid the Christmas-morning-fake-smile-and-the-“Oh, I’ve always wanted a tie-dyed potholder”-lie: For those who love you A LOT: Carbon-fiber Werner paddle (Your arms, wrists, and shoulders are worth it!) Dry Suit (This is the best way to extend your paddling season.) A comfortable PFD (Don't skimp on a life jacket. It might one day save your life!) For those who like you: A mobile solar-charger kit (Who cares if you ever need it; it’s just cool to have!) A kayak cart  (This will save money in the long run

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Winter Paddling Wardrobe by Mitch Mitchell

As we head into late fall the paddling opportunities improve at about the same rate that the weather deteriorates. The fall colors can make for very picturesque paddles, the surf gets better, and the inlets have much less boat traffic and more current (if you like that sort of thing). The question is what to wear? We have posted many articles about hypothermia, cold shock, etc., but I've never talked about what I personally wear and when I wear it. In early fall I usually wear wet suits. I start with a shorty or “spring suit” but, as the water gets colder, I will move to a full wetsuit. The colder the water the thicker the suit. The downside to wet suits is that for them to work properly you have to get wet. As

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A Channel to Avoid

     In this age of cable, Netflix, and Hulu, with 100s of channels to choose from there is one channel you want to avoid - the boat channel! This time of year there are lots of boaters on the water. We are lucky at Coastal Kayak because Little Assawoman Bay is much shallower and smaller than both Assawoman Bay (behind Ocean City) and Rehoboth Bay. This means a lot less boat traffic. The shallow water also means one other thing, and that is that most motor boaters in our bay will stay in the boat channel. The channel is a narrow lane through the bay that typically has deeper water. The important thing for us as paddlers is that we want to avoid the channels when possible. But if we have to cross them, we

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Introducing Coastal Kayak’s Five Newest ACA Certified Kayak Instructors!

The Level 1-2 ACA Kayak Instructor Certification Workshop is not like taking a CPR course - the certification cards are not pre-printed, attendance does not guarantee passing. Candidates have to work hard to pass. These five instructor candidates did four full days of paddling drills, wet exits, self and assisted rescues, towing, bracing, edging, tidal current work, teaching scenarios, presentations, and tests. Now Madison, Justin, Lydia, Jeff, and Tony are ready to guide you and your family through the marshes and cypress trees, show you the wild horses of Assateague, and to teach you the basics of kayaking. Many companies and park systems spend, at most, a couple of hours in one afternoon training their guides. So why do we require so much more? Because your precious vacation time is as important to us as

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Waaaaater Anyone?

Like everyone else these days we are trying to break our addiction to plastic. We now use 100% recycled paper bags for our merchandise instead of plastic bags. We only sell sodas in cans. We provide filtered water to refill your water bottles. But our biggest dilemma in the battle against plastic has always been single-use bottled water. On hot summer days people need to drink water. Staying hydrated is extremely important. We have to have bottled water available. Finally, we found a great alternative! Bottled water in resealable, aluminum cans!! The company is called Green Sheep Water. Why is aluminum so much better than plastic? Aluminum is completely and infinitely recyclable. Aluminum is recycled worldwide – in many places it is actually incentivized. And it has a much higher rate of being recycled than

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A Straw for a Sailing Lesson?

We've all seen the photos—in the middle of pristine, blue oceans a Delaware-sized island of floating garbage, sea turtles munching on plastic bags, dead marine mammals with stomachs full of plastic. It breaks your heart. We all use plastics—it's almost impossible not to. So we are all guilty of the crime. But we CAN do better! Like everything that's worthwhile, it is not easy to give up plastics. You have to haul your reusable grocery and produce bags to the supermarket and then deal with the stink-eye from the bagger. Or, even though you're already late you have to dig around your cabinet for your reusable water bottle, never finding the correct lid. Then you run out during the day so you have to refill it from the faucet with chlorine-flavored water. And the worst—your

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