Water Safety

Game Plan

You may notice a few changes to Coastal Kayak. But behind the masks and the plexiglass, we’re still excited to see you! Here is what you can expect when you come to rent a kayak, paddleboard, or sailboat this season: 1) We ask that only one person in your group approach our front door (with a sign that says “Start Here”) wearing a mask. We will give that person the release forms for everyone to fill out. (We also have digital release forms available on our website if you'd prefer to take care of this step without contact.) 2) Everyone in your group will need to sign the forms. You can either take them back to your vehicle to fill out or we will have tables available. If using the tables, please do not go

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The Bare Essentials

One of the most appealing things about kayaking is how low tech it is. You don’t need much to have a great time on the water. But there are a few bare essentials (in addition to a boat and a paddle) that every kayaker should take on every trip, even if it’s only a five minute spin in in the pond you know like the back of your hand. PFD (personal floatation device) No matter where, no matter how long, no matter ANYTHING, you should always, always, always take/wear a PFD. The heart-breaking loss this spring of the mother and son who jumped in a canoe to go after an errant ball reminds all of us how quickly, how unexpectedly things can go bad. Charged Cell Phone in a Dry Bag Good or bad, very

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The Test Before the Lesson “Learning Experiences”—Long-Shore Currents by Mitch Mitchell

Long-shore currents form when the surf hits the beach at an angle, causing the water to move faster and faster along the shore. They aren’t a big deal if you’re aware of them. But it took two experiences—one financially painful, and the other physically exhausting—for me to learn this lesson. My financially painful experience was during my wind-surfing days in the mid-80s. I got into windsurfing early in the sport’s trajectory, at least on the East Coast. I learned in South Carolina, on Lake Hartwell first, and then in the ocean off Folly Beach with a guy who had one of the first one hundred “Windsurfers” ever made. (The term “Windsurfer” was actually the brand name of a sailboard manufacturer.) Being able to jump and surf waves on a sailboard was a blast. When I moved to

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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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Which is More Stable: A Sit-on-Top or a Sit-Inside Kayak?

If all other dimensions are equal, a sit-inside (open-cockpit) kayak is more stable than a sit-on-top kayak. In an open-cockpit kayak you're sitting lower in the boat. Your center of gravity (aka rear-end) is at or near the level of the water. For example, when you're sitting on the floor, unless you've had one too many margaritas, it's hard to get knocked-over. But if you're standing, anything unexpected can make you lose your balance. That's because your center of gravity is higher. Many times kayak manufacturers will mitigate the higher center of gravity of a sit-on-top kayak by making it wider or by changing the bottom shape. However, both of these changes will affect the performance of the kayak. A wider kayak will be slower. And changing the bottom shape will make a larger surface

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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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Weather…Or Not

Knowing the weather is key to enjoying your time out on the water. Whether you are sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, or just going to the beach, having an accurate forecast is always important. I would say that an “accurate forecast” in our area is an oxymoron. But you still want to get the most accurate report possible. First of all, if you are going to be on the water, you want to make sure you check out the marine forecast for nearshore or inshore waters. Because of the openness on the water the wind speed can be quite different than wind speeds that are only a mile inland. Many times we have people tell us that the forecast said this or that only to find out that they were listening to a Baltimore or Philadelphia

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Stay the Course! Using A Range to Determine Position by Mitch Mitchell

In the past two articles we talked about wind - both the effects of fetch, as well as what effect wind has on our kayak. This time we are going to talk about how to tell what the wind or current is doing to our kayak (or paddle board). A lot of times, especially on stand up paddle boards, our renters go out and even thought they are pointed into the wind and paddling forwards, they are actually losing ground and going backwards. Another common scenario is that they are heading out to Point of Cedars Island and even though they think they are going straight towards it they are actually being pushed well to the side making their paddle much longer than expected. So how can you tell, once on the water, exactly what

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