"I've been kayaking for several years but I am having a hard time placing my experience level. Am I a novice or still a beginner? Please explain the different levels of kayaking experience."
Experience depends on your overall level of control of the kayak and, more so, based on this control and previous paddling experience, the ability for rational decision making when in a crisis or under stress.
Here is a breakdown:
Beginner - Needs to learn the basic paddling strokes and terminology. Little or no previous experience.
Novice - Basic strokes have been learned but still working on proper form and linking strokes together.**"Aren't aware of what they don't know. Can't make decisions based on judgment. Need to learn general patterns and guidelines of the sport, and to use them in making decisions".
Intermediate - Basic stokes have become second nature. Now working on advanced technique and maneuvers. **"Competent, but correct actions are still deliberate. Need help with occasional decisions. Still learning some exceptions to the general guidelines".
Advanced - Advanced maneuvers and technique have been learned and applied. **"Can perform well without much conscious thought and make seemingly spontaneous decisions. Continue to learn through experience and exposure to others. Remain clam, methodical in dealing with complex problems".
In a nut shell; if you have not learned your basic strokes you would be a beginner. If you have learned the basic strokes and think that's all there is to learn, you are a novice.
**"Decision Making in a Crisis" - Michael Pardy, Wave Length Magazine
"I did some sea kayaking while on vacation in Hawaii. I know we were sea kayaking because it said "Ocean Kayak" on the side of the boat I was paddling. Am I ready for one of your tours?"
Yes. We offer tours for all levels of kayaking experience, from the beginner to the advanced paddler. But, don't confuse sea kayaking from what was written on the side of the kayak you paddled. Ocean Kayak is a manufacturer of kayaks - mainly sit-on-top, recreational kayaks.
We do use sit-on-top, "Greenland style", touring kayaks for our beginner classes but our main focus is the art of sea kayaking, using British style touring hulls.
We offer easy lake and Delta tours for our clients who are beginners. We would love to teach you the skills to enjoy the sport of sea kayaking.
"Does sea kayaking require a lot of upper body strength?"
No. This is a sport more of endurance and finesse. It's all in the hips and abs. Good upper body core strength is always an added benefit for any sport but anyone can learn to sea kayak.
Depending on how far you wish to take the sport is up to you. If your goal is to explore more remote, distant, areas in your kayak you will need endurance. Strength and endurance training would aid in achieving your goals.
Check out our page: Get in Shape for Kayaking for a good exercise routine if you feel you may be too out of shape for the sport.
"If I get into sea kayaking, will I need to learn to roll?"
This just depends on how far you wish to take the sport. A lot of kayakers enjoy sea kayaking and never master their roll.
Lazy summer days on the lake or river, staying close to the shoreline, are times when, if you capsize, you can swim to safety. No roll needed!
Or, if you have mastered your deep water re-entry back into the kayak in the quickest time possible.
Learning how to roll a sea kayak is just another step in learning the art. Most of my students find that once they learn to roll, they experience a new level of confidence. This newly found confidence has a way of showing up in every day life as well!
"I can't swim! Would I enjoy sea kayaking or just be scared silly?"
If you enjoy the water and have a spirit for exploring and adventure, you will love the sport! The Eskimos couldn't swim either and they lived by the sea kayak.
In our Intro to Sea Kayaking class we will teach you how to get back into your kayak from a capsize in deep water using a paddle float. You will also be wearing a P.F.D - Personal Floatation Device - to keep your head above the water line.
All of this is done under the watchfull eyes of the instructor. If there is a problem, you will be in safe hands.
"I see your company is in Atlanta, Georgia. How can you "sea kayak" if there is no ocean?"
No oceans are needed! In the sport of kayaking there is a broad range of kayak types and styles. On one end of the spectrum, you have whitewater kayaking, which, in itself, has a wide range of boat types and styles. On the other end is sea kayaking. Somewhere in the middle is "recreational kayaking".
White water and sea kayaking share commonness; in both sports you wear the kayak. Hip pads are often installed to aid in, over all, control of the kayak. As well, both sports can be taken to an extreme, "steep creeking" and "play boating" in the sport of white water and "rock hopping", "high sea paddling" and "long distance expedition touring" in sea kayaking.
Over all, sea kayaking is just a reference to the type of boat you would be paddling. Most sea kayaks are built for speed, to go the distance with the least amount of effort. As well, most sea kayaks are designed to handle rough "open water" conditions.
Sea kayaks are very versatile and can go just about anywhere! Some of our most popular tours are on the mountain lakes of the Carolinas and North Georgia.