Sea Kayaking Guide
The main characteristic of sea kayaking is the silent movement of the boat through the water, propelled only by the paddler, who is careful not to disturb the peaceful, natural environment of the places he or she visits.
The exact origin of the kayak is unknown, but we do know that the first people to use it were the Eskimos. It is thought to be¬†the oldest type of vessel that is still used today, since it is over¬†3000 years old.
The British were the first to discover the Eskimo kayak, taking it¬†to Europe towards the end of the XIXth century. Since then, the kayak's shape, size and material have¬†continued to evolve up to its current¬†form and appearance.
All the current models are variations and improvements on the original kayak used by the Eskimos. Thanks to the¬†new materials and designs, faster and more secure kayaks are being made.
Types of Kayak
There are two types¬†of sea kayaks:
- Sit-on-top or "recreational"¬†kayaks have an open¬†cockpit, for which the kayaker sits "on top" of it, making it possible for him\her to¬†jump from¬†the vessel¬†if needed. This feature makes it the ideal choice for beginners.
- Sit-inside or "touring" kayaks have a narrower cockpit, leaving the kayaker "inside" the vessel. It allows him to stay safe and dry, with no risk of falling, but they are really dangerous if the kaya overturns.¬†¬†
Parts of a¬†Kayak
- Cockpit: the¬†cavity where the kayaker sits.
- Hull: the area that is in contact with the water, and that defines the main characteristics of the kayak, such as stability, speed, and maneuverability.
- Deck: upper part of the kayak, that covers the hull and protects the kayaker.
- Drop Skeg: lower part of the kayak and its symmetry axis, it gives direction to the vessel.
- Bulkheads:¬†a composite wall in fibreglass & Kevlar kayaks or a foam wall in polyethylene kayaks to separate the storage area from the cockpit area, and to limit water access.
- Forward and rear hatches: dry areas for storing and giving flotation to the kayak.
- Bungee Shock Chords: are used to¬†store a map, water bottle or attach a low-slung deck bag to house small pack items in an easily accessible area.
- Rudders:¬†provides paddlers the ability to control direction (steer) using their feet via a rudder system with cables attached to sliding or pivoting foot peddles.
- Retractable Skeg: the skeg is deployed from the hull and can be lowered up, down or anywhere in between using a hand controlled lever or dial for use as a tracking aid, and stabilize the kayak against winds and tides¬†¬†
- Fiberglass: it is the ideal material for building kayaks, for it is durable, lightweight, rigid and resistant against impacts. It is also much easier to repair than plastic.
- Composite: composite or kevlar, is¬†synthetic fiber that is used for making bulletproof vests and shields. It is ligther than fiberglass, but much more expensive. Kayaks made of composite are used¬†in competitions where more acceleration is required.
- Poly carbonate: this material is very similar to that which is used for making lenses and eyeglasses. It is more resistant to the possible damage caused by ultraviolet light than a polyethylene kayak and moreover, it is recyclable.
- Plastic: plastic kayaks are much cheaper and resistant than fiberglass kayaks. Even though plastic kayaks are more popular, they can become deformed in hot climates¬†or if stored and transported incorrectly, without the proper protection.
- Folding: these kayaks are ideal for storing in small spaces when traveling. They¬†require more¬†maintenance and time to assemble.
- Wooden: building a kayak out of wood is the best way to get started in this sport. You can find kits with pre-cut pieces in stores.
- Inflatable: the major concern with this type of kayak is that it may deflate. However, contrary to the appearance of the material, it is amazingly resistant in aggressive areas such as reefs or rough sand.
Kayaking in Chile
Paddling in calmer waters is becoming the popular choice for a more relaxing trip that allows you to admire and enjoy the wonders of nature. Chile boasts many destinations for practicing sea kayaking, such as¬†the Pacific coast and its countless fjords, and the hundreds of lakes and lagoons that abound in our¬†territory, from the central region to the southern extreme.
Regi√≥n de Atacama and Altiplano
Sea kayaking in this area is almost completely limited to the ocean, since neither lakes nor rivers have¬†enough¬†flow¬†to sail.
- Damas Island.
- La Paloma Reservoir.
- Puclaro Reservoir.
- Pichidangui Beach.
- Guanaqueros Beach.
- Tongoy Beach.
- Los Molles Beach.
Almost¬†the entire central coast is apt for sea kayaking. From this region on, rivers are more plentiful¬†and the first lakes and lagoons¬†start to appear. You can navigate in sea kayaks or river kayaks alike.
- Algarrobo, Quintero and Conc√≥n Beaches. Valpara√≠so Region
- Aculeo Lagoon. Metropolitan region.
- Rapel Lake. Metropolitan Region.
- El Yeso Reservoir. Metropolitan region.
- Cachapoal, Maule and Rapel Rivers. Libertador B. O'Higgins Region
- Colb√ļn and Vichuqu√©n Lakes. Maule Region
Araucania and Lakes District
This region of Chile boasts countless lakes and lagoons for kayaking:
- B√≠o-B√≠o River: XVIII Region . Southeast of Los √Āngeles. Class V.
- Trancura River:¬†IX Regiona. 14 km (9 MI) from Pucon. Classes III and IV.
This area also has countless lakes and lagoons.
- Laja Lagoon¬†and¬†Lleu Lleu Lake . B√≠o-B√≠o Region
- Conguill√≠o, Villarrica, Caburgua, and¬†Colico Lakes. Araucan√≠a Region.
- Calafqu√©n, Neltume, Pirihueico, Panguipulli, Ri√Īihue, Ranco, Llanquihue, Todos Los Santos¬†and Chapo lakes. Los Lagos Region.
This region of Chile boasts innumerable rivers¬†and fjords.
- Pumalin fjords, Chilo√© Archipielago, Yelcho lake and river, Futaleuf√ļ river, Palena river and lake. Los Lagos Region
- Ays√©n river, General Carrera Lake, Bertrand Lake, Baker River, fjords and canals in Tortel. Ays√©n Region
- Serrano River. Magellan Region.
For more suggestions, check out¬†our Destinations guide.
- Spray skirt
- Bilge pump
- Whistle or audible signal
- Paddle Float: an inflatable bag that is affixed to one end of the paddle (the blade) and helps the paddle reenter the kayak in case he or she falls out.
- Repair Kit: must have the necessary supplies for repairing the kayak, jackets, cockpit cover, etc.
- Emergency Kit: scissors, tweezers, bandages, disinfectant and antiseptic, a Swiss army knife and it may be necessary to include a first aid manual.
Some suggestions you must consider before venturing out in your kayak:
- You must be a good swimmer.
- Always use the proper equipment, never leaving out any safety elements.
- You should take your time and plan your route carefully. You must know the entrances and exits of the river, weather conditions, the location and availability of rescue teams, etc.
- Do not kayak alone.
- Do not kayak near dams or outlets.
- Design¬†an emergency plan with what to do and where to go in case of emergency.
- Mirrors for reflecting sunlight.
- Strobe lights, they function like mirrors at night.
- VHF marine radio (high frequency radio)
- Rescue flags.
- It is better to carry your cell phone with you, in case you find yourself in an area with a signal.
- Wear flashy clothing, brightly colored life vests, paint paddles with fluorescent colors.
Phone: (56-2) 272 90 95 y 272 42 04
Expeditions and School
El Bosque Sur 65, 2nd floor, of.¬†3, Las Condes
Phone: (56-2) 650 8264
Altue Sea Kayaking
Phone: (56-09) 4196809
The Complete Book of Sea Kayaking, 5th Edition
Author: Derek C. Hutchinson
The Complete Sea Kayaker's Handbook
Author: Shelley Johnson
Fundamental of Kayak Navigantion, 4th: Master the Traditional Skills and the Latest Technologies
Author: David Burch