Updated: Apr 28, 2021
Kayakers – with their insanely gorgeous Instagram posts riddled with hashtags about adventure and wanderlust – may have you believing that they belong to an elite class of travelers, but the secret is out that anybody can kayak. This guide includes a list of safety considerations, what equipment you will need, a step-by-step guide to kayaking, and a couple of easily-accessible and fun kayaking routes in Baytown.
So, you want to be the captain of your own kayak? Well, any good skipper knows that safety comes first. Before you embark on your first kayaking journey, it’s important to recognize that you are now a part of the maritime community. As part of that community, the U.S. Coast Guard is your friend and guide for safety. Here are some things that the U.S. Coast Guard recommends for kayakers:
• Have an “If found” label with your name and contact information on the kayak
The Coast Guard treats every kayak adrift as a person in the water, deploying extensive resources for a Search and Rescue mission every time a kayak adrift is found. Therefore, the Coast Guard strongly encourages kayakers to put a label with their contact info on their kayaks. Imagine if a kayak adrift belonged to someone who was fine, but just couldn’t get their kayak out of the water – it could lead to a very expensive and time-consuming misunderstanding!
• Make a float plan and share it with someone before you get out on the water
In addition to labeling your kayak, it’s important to have a float plan. A “float plan” is the route you intend to take and how long you expect to be gone. Always write out a float plan and leave it somewhere easily accessible, or better yet, text it to a friend or family member!
• Wear a USCG-approved life-jacket. A USCG-approved life-jacket is a must for all kayakers – veteran or green. A vest style life-jacket with a zipper in the front is good for kayaking. You want to make sure you have a comfortable life-jacket for kayaking because you’ll be moving your arms to paddle! A good vest-style, USCG-approved life-jacket starts at around $30.
• Carry a whistle with you. Use it when you have a safety concern and need to communicate with other boaters or need rescuing.
What should I take with me?
Kayak- There are several types of kayaks, but this guide will focus on the two that are the easiest for those testing the water or just getting started: sit-on-top or recreational kayaks. What you need to know is that sit-on-top kayaks offer more stability. For this reason and because gear is more easily accessible, sit-on-top kayaks are commonly recommended for fishing. Recreational kayaks have a cockpit, so the kayaker’s feet are covered by the top of the kayak. Recreational kayaks are favorable for maneuverability and speed. Either of these kayaks can be purchased online or in-store from Academy, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and other sports retailers from $200-$900. Another option for prospective kayakers not ready to commit to buying a kayak outright is to rent one.
Transporting your kayak:
We interviewed local Baytown kayaking enthusiast, Chuck Chandler about his kayaking routine. Mr. Chandler said that he throws his 12-foot kayak in the back of his hatchback without an issue; he said he doesn’t have a fancy roof rack or anything like that. He also mentioned that the kayak is only 40 to 50 pounds and not difficult to pick up. If you follow Mr. Chandler’s lead, consider laying a tarp down and firmly securing the kayak in the vehicle as not to put your back windshield at risk. With that being said, if you have a truck or a roof rack to tie the kayak down, that’ll be the easiest and safest way to transport.
Water- Bring A LOT of water! Local, Chuck Chandler, could not stress this enough! “Bring more than you think you’ll need, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll go through.” Bring several canteens with you.
SPF- Wear a hat, wear sunscreen, wear sunglasses. Don’t let a sunburn get in between you and a great day on the water.
Bug spray- Keep those beasties off.
Waterproof phone bag- Take a waterproof bag for your phone and valuables. These types of bags can be purchased for a modest price from Walmart or Amazon and will save you a lot of heartache if you happen to capsize!
Water shoes- Water shoes are great if you think you might end up in the water or plan to park the kayak on a bank somewhere to walk around. It’s also nice to have that option to get your feet wet!
Binoculars- Baytown is an incredible birding and water wildlife destination. Even if you don’t consider yourself a birder, you might change your mind as you meander through Baytown’s waterways.
Line- This is another tip from Mr. Chandler. He said it’s a good idea to tie everything down to your kayak with line. It’s far less expensive than replacing things that drift away and far less of a hassle than diving for your items in the event that your kayak flips!
Snacks- Snacks rule. Bring snacks.
To learn about where to kayak in Baytown, follow this link to part two of this blog!
Check out our Outdoor Activities page to learn more about Baytown's opportunities to explore nature.
For more information on lodging for your next trip, visit our Stay Page!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marissa Skidmore is a student at the University of Houston – Clear Lake, a Public Affairs Intern for the City of Baytown and an active duty Coastie; after graduation, she will attend Officer Candidate School to earn her commission as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. She loves learning, problem-solving, and spending time on the water.