sea kayaking

Published on by neal rosenthal.




Contemporary sea kayaks trace their origin to the native boats of Alaska, northern Canada, and Southwest Greenland. Eskimo hunters developed a fast  seagoing craft to hunt seals and walrus. The ancient Aleut name for a sea kayak is Iqyak, and earliest models were constructed from a light wooden frame (tied together with sinew or baleen) and covered with sea mammal (sea lion or seal) hides. Archaeologists have found evidence indicating that kayaks are at least 4000 years old. Wooden kayaks and fabric kayaks on wooden frames (such as the Klepper) were dominating the market up until 1950s, when fiberglass boats were first introduced. Rotomolded plastic kayaks first appeared in 1984.


There is a strong culture of self-sufficiency amongst sea kayakers and extensive safety equipment such as compass, towing lines, manual pumps, repair kits including wet application repair tape, flares, paddle leash, spare paddles, and survival gear are routinely carried; along with supplies of food and a flask of hot beverage for non-emergency use. GPS, charts, lights, radios and cell phones, and radar reflectors are also sometimes carried.

Although some kayakers consider a well-practiced self-righting move such as an Eskimo roll to be essential to safe open-water kayaking, it is the technique of bracing that every well-trained, experienced kayaker practices to maintain an upright position in their kayak. Practice in bracing is often neglected by inexperienced kayakers once they have learned the Eskimo roll. However, the reality is that having to roll really means having to recover from a failed brace.

Most paddlers consider it safest to paddle with one or more others, as assistance is useful if attempting to roll up solo fails. Even if the assistance fails to get you righted, it's a lot easier to climb back into a boat in the open sea if you've got another boat and paddler to help and your boat's been emptied of water first. Nonetheless, experienced paddlers do attempt open water crossings unaccompanied, and several major long-distance kayak expeditions have been carried out solo.

Island Kayaking:

The area of the park that is most popular for sea kayaking is centered around Scorpion Beach on East Santa Cruz Island. This location is a world class destination for sea kayaking because of easy beach access, clear ocean waters, nearby camping, readily available concessionaire boat transportation service and a spectacular shoreline with beautiful sea cave and cliffs to explore. During an excursion one is likely to encounter a variety of bird life, sea creatures, and unbelievable vistas. It is not uncommon to see dolphin and whales during the crossing. There are shoals of fish in the islands many kelp forests. Aquatic bird life, like Pelicans can be witnessed displaying their aerial antics. One might even catch a glimpse of the newly repopulated Bald Eagles.  

Sea kayaking at San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands is recommended to only the most highly experienced (expert), skilled, conditioned kayakers with all necessary safety equipment due to the consistently extreme weather and sea conditions that regularly dominate these areas. Of course the rewards for you will be visiting a truly wild, rustic, and beautiful location.


Sea Caves:
There are numerous sea caves to explore along the shores of both the main land and our off shore islands. Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island is the World's Longest Sea Cave. Imagine yourself paddling deep into a sea cave with the bellows of the side chambers making your ears pop from the pressure change. You are still 40 feet from the ceiling of the cave and you can see the sun bouncing off of rocks just below you in the crystal clear water. Now imagine where you are... 30 miles due South from Santa Barbara on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Sea caves can be dangerous-large waves or swells can fill a cave unexpectedly. Always observe and evaluate sea conditions before entering any sea cave. Be extremely careful and wear a helmet at all times when exploring sea caves.

May we suggest taking the opportunity to book a guided tour and enjoy one of the world finest sea kayaking experiences just a short boat ride away. Fall is the perfect time of year to plan an outing. The weather is still warm there is a ton of sea life both in the channel and around our islands.  Channel Islands Outfitters can arrange all the details for you And of course we can pack a great breakfast and lunch for your enjoyment.