Kayaking in Chenango County

Myranda Davis

Mayhood’s Sporting Goods

CHENANGO COUNTY – With sunny days and warm weather finally here, many of us will at some point head to the water to play.

There are many watercraft options available for the recreationist. Kayaking especially is becoming an activity of choice. I enjoy watching the sunset over a tranquil pond or lake from my kayak. With so many options on the market, it can be difficult choosing a boat that is best for you.

For those who are searching for a kayak for recreational use rather than white water rafting or competitions, there are a few main types of kayaks. Recreational kayaks in general are easy to maneuver and more stable than other kayaks.

Many of them have a larger cockpit as well to ease exit and entry of the boat. These boats are best for use on calm waters. There are both sit-on-top recreational kayaks and recreational kayaks that you sit inside.

Sit-on-top kayaks have an open deck, which makes them very easy to exit and enter. Those with limited flexibility may feel more comfortable in this type of boat. It is best for those who want to jump out of the boat to cool off in the water as well.

With sit-on-top kayaks you don’t need to worry about the cockpit filling up with water, which makes them great for this type of use. A sit-on-top kayak will allow you to get back in the kayak from the water, but this is not possible with a sit inside kayak.

Sit inside kayaks have an open cockpit where you sit inside the hull with your legs under the deck. This style allows you to brace your knees against the inside wall of the hull for more efficient paddle strokes. There are several other features available as well, such as storage compartments, rod holders for fishing, a storage space for your cell phone and more.

One of the other main differences between kayaks will be the overall length of the boat. Most recreational kayaks tend to be between 9’6” to 12’ in length. The smaller kayaks – 9’6” -10’ in length – are easier to make quick maneuvers with and turn. Longer kayaks – those that are 11’-12’ in length – stay on course better. They are easier to paddle over long distances.

For those who have never kayaked before, one of the more difficult tasks as a beginner is simply getting in and out of your kayak. To get in, I find it easiest to put the kayak in the water parallel to shore. I slide the paddle temporarily inside the cockpit to have use of both hands. The key is to get your body weight low over the boat when climbing inside to prevent tipping the boat over or falling in the water.

I like to put one hand on either side of the cockpit and place one foot inside the boat while crouching low. Then I slide my other foot inside the cockpit and slowly lower myself completely into the boat until I am sitting. It may take a few tries to get the hang of but once you figure out how to do it properly it’s not too difficult.

When holding the paddle your hands should be spaced about shoulder width apart. A test to ensure proper hand placement is to see if you can make a ninety-degree angle with your arms when you lift the paddle on top of your head. When gripping the paddle your knuckles should be pointed up.

Many people start out with paddles that have flat blades. After some experience most will find that they prefer feathered blades, which have a slight curve to them to reduce wind resistance and give better propulsion. When paddling you will want to select a control hand. Most people choose to use whichever hand is dominant for this.

The control hand will maintain the same grip at all times when paddling. When the blade is in the water on the side of the control hand, the opposite hand should loosen its grip. When the blade enters the water on the side of the non-control hand the grip is then tightened again. This allows the paddle to rotate in your hands slightly as you switch from one blade to another.

The slight rotation in grip makes it so that the blade that is currently in use is squared with the water surface. While paddling your torso should rotate as well, so that you are not just using your arms. Once this basic stroke is down you are well on your way.

There are so many ponds and lakes to go paddling in, on a hot summer day. Some great local spots to check out include Guilford Lake, Chenango Lake, Bowman Lake, Long Pond, Millbrook Pond, Hunt Pond, and Round Pond.

There are so many places to go. Don’t forget to bring your life jacket, some water, and sunscreen.

If you are lucky enough to get permission to kayak on a private lake, be sure to respect the landowners and remember that if you carry it in, you should carry it out. No matter where you go, try to leave it better than you found it. I hope to see you all out on the water this summer.

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