Kayarchy - the sea kayaker's online handbook and reference


Table of Contents

Browse all headings and main sub-headings

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Hokusai's The Wave

The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai, 1760-1845



Section summaries


Sea kayaking overview
Compared with other sports

Learn to roll

About Kayarchy

Get in touch
Metric measurements
Legal notice & privacy policy

EQUIPMENT - kayaks, paddles, clothing & other accessories

Equipment for sea kayaking
The cost of sea kayaking equipment
Equipment checklists:

1 - equipment for a short, easy day trip
2 - equipment for an intermediate trip
3 - equipment for an advanced day trip
4 - equipment for a multi-day trip in a wilderness area

Travelling light

The Sea Kayak
Choosing a sea kayak
Classic sea kayak
Intended use
Five styles of classic sea kayak

Will this kayak be stable enough for me?
Sea kayak features (rocker, volume, cockpit size & shape, etc)

Folding & Inflatable Kayaks
Folding kayaks
Inflatable kayaks

Sea Kayak Design
Why a long, narrow kayak?
Kayak stability

Radical designs

Sea Kayak Construction Methods (1)
The basics
A kayak must be light
But not too light
Fiberglass, kevlar & similar composites


Royalex, Duralex, Airalex & Carbonlite

Materials for folding kayaks

Build your own kayak

Sea Kayak Construction Methods (2)
Fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP)

Build your own kayak in fiber-reinforced plastic

Sea Kayak Construction Methods (3)
Build your own wood kayak
Building in wood - plywood

Sea Kayak Construction Methods (4)
Building in wood - strip plank

Building in wood - cold molded

Completing your wood kayak
Protecting your wood kayak

Sea Kayak Construction Methods (5)
Build your own skin-on-frame kayak
Skin-on-frame materials

Books, websites, DVDs & courses
Skin-on-frame kayaks & offshore safety

Building in Birchbark
Birch bark canoe

Sea Kayaks vs. Other Kayaks & Canoes
Kayaks, baidarkas, canoes
Whitewater playboats

General-purpose kayaks

Two-person kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks

Ocean racing skis

Kayaks for surfing

Sea Kayaks vs. Other Small Boats
Seaworthy small craft
Sea kayakers & their other boats

Sailing dinghies for exposed waters

Rowing boats for exposed waters

Rowing-sailing boats

Sailing canoes for exposed waters

Pacific outrigger canoes

Other multihulls for exposed waters

Yachts & sea kayaks

Sailing Rigs For Kayaks & Canoes
Why sail?
Sailing a kayak

Sailing a canoe

Making rudders, leeboards & foils

Kayak Outfitting (1) - accessories which are essential for safety

Hatch covers

Deck rigging
Additional flotation for your kayak

Kayak Outfitting (2) - accessories which are almost essential
Footrest / foot brace
Back support
Skeg or rudder
Deck elastics
Paddle park / tow point

Kayak Outfitting (3) - other accessories
Knee box / knee tube
Cockpit pod

Sea sock

Kayak Outfitting (4) - other accessories continued
Dry bags & float bags

Deck bag

Built-in pump vs. portable pump

Deck compass

Fourth hatch

Towing cleat

Kayak cart

Electrical accessories, built in

Cockpit cover

Other interesting ideas

And some other ideas

Kayak Outfitting (5)
How to add accessories to a kayak

The Paddle (1)
European-style paddles
Paddle length

Paddle feathering / off-set

Materials for paddles

Colors for paddles

Emergency paddle

Paddle float

The Paddle (2)
Greenland-style paddles
Make a Greenland paddle

Using a Greenland paddle

Clothing & Tow-Belt (1)
Waterproof kayaking jacket


Personal buoyancy


Clothing & Tow-Belt (2)
Clothing for summer
Clothing for winter

Technical fabrics:
— Breathable & non breathable fabrics
— Wetsuit material
— Thermal stretch materials

— Base layer materials

— Synthetic fleece materials

Clothing & Tow-Belt (3)
Wetsuit boots


Hat, scarf, mitts
Contact lenses, sunglasses

Distress Signals & Rescue (1)
VHF radio (buying one, safety traffic, distress calls)

Distress Signals & Rescue (2)
Cellular phones

Satellite personal tracker

Personal strobe lights

& smoke
Other distress equipment

Lifeboat & helicopter rescue

Repair, Storage & Maintenance
Repairs & repair kits
Storing your kayak

Maintenance for kayak hulls

Metals & salt water

Storing kayak clothing etc

Transport & Knots
Transporting your kayak
Knots for kayakers


The Tuniit
The Inuit

Today's Greenland

Vikings in kayaks

Ocean-crossing Inuit

SEA KAYAK TECHNIQUE - paddling, rolling, rafting, towing, rescue

Paddling Your Sea Kayak (1)
Starting out
Carrying your kayak

Getting into your kayak

Capsizing, wet exit, emptying your kayak

Basic paddling position

Paddling Your Sea Kayak (2)
How to paddle forwards
Body rotation

More improvements

Staying on course

Coping with wind from the side

Getting technical

Getting really, really technical

Paddling backwards

Paddling Your Sea Kayak (3)
Forwards sweep stroke
Reverse sweep stroke

Stern rudder

Leaning / edging a kayak

Edging to steer your moving kayak

Edging to spin your stationary kayak

Paddling Your Sea Kayak (4)
Draw stroke
Hanging draw stroke

Sculling draw stroke

Paddling Your Sea Kayak (5)
First, learn the hip snap
Instructions for the full hip snap

Common faults

Paddling Your Sea Kayak (6)
"Low recovery" support stroke
Common faults with the low recovery

"High recovery" support stroke

Common faults with the high recovery

Sculling brace

Keeping a moving kayak upright

Low brace

High brace

Stern brace

ADVANCED KAYAKING - fast-moving water & surf

Paddling Your Sea Kayak (7) fast water
Is it a whitewater day?
The shape of fast water

- back eddies

- standing waves

- holes

Paddling Your Sea Kayak (8) fast water
More about holes
Breaking in, breaking out
Ferry glides

Paddling Your Sea Kayak (9)
The nature of surf - spilling or plunging

Paddling Your Sea Kayak (10)
Wind & waves
Punching out through surf

Getting back to the beach

Paddle strokes for surfing

Surfing a sea kayak

Surfing a surf kayak

Rescue in the surf zone

Avoiding conflict with board surfers

Rolling Your Kayak (1)
Rolling is necessary & easy
Where & how to learn

The basics of rolling

Long lever roll

Common mistakes

Try these solutions

Rolling Your Kayak (2)
Short lever rolls
Layback rolls

Steyr roll

Short lever layback rolls

Rafting-up & towing
Rafting up
Towing a kayak

Towing other small boats

Shunting with a kayak ("contact tow")

Deep-Water Rescue & Self-Rescue
Swimmer-to-kayaker rescue
Kayaker-to-swimmer rescue

Kayaker-to-kayaker rescues

Emptying a flooded kayak
Self-rescue for solo sea kayakers


Kayak navigation (1)
Introducing navigation
The nautical mile

Kayak speed

Effect of wind & tide

Navigation marks

Night navigation marks

Kayak navigation (2)
Maritime charts
Chartwork ashore

"North", headings, bearings & reciprocals

Magnetic variation

Distances on a chart

Kayak navigation (3)
Features on a chart
Co-ordinates on a chart

Navigation tools ashore

Navigation tools afloat

First, take your chart...

Adjusting your plot for currents

Kayak navigation (4)
Using tidal streams
Adjusting your plot for wind

Aiming off

Kayak navigation (5)
Navigation checks while afloat
Visual check on the effects of current & wind

Kayak navigation (6)
Plotting your position
Using a compass afloat

GPS satellite navigation

Kayak navigation (7)
Distance to horizon
Check your depth
Night navigation


How to learn
Child-size kayaks

Other issues in children's kayaking


Before planning a trip

Trip planning

Group equipment

Two days before

At the launch point

On the water



Wild camping
Vehicle-based camping
Kayak-based camping

Expedition equipment

Kayak camp cooking

Cooking equipment

Water & food

Stowing equipment in a sea kayak


Safety (1)
A very safe sport
Cold shock, swim failure & hypothermia

Cold shock

Swimming failure

Safety (2)

Getting run over

Heavy lifting

Hand/arm overuse syndromes

Dislocated shoulder

Rockfall & icefall

Safety (3)
Solo kayaking

Mud & quicksand
Unlikely hazards

Safety (4)
First Aid courses
Small First Aid kit

Big First Aid kit


Sea & Weather (1) Wind
Winds & the kayaker
Windward / leeward

The causes of wind

The effect of landscape

Sea & Weather (2) Wind, continued
Beaufort Scale for kayakers


Sea & Weather (3) Waves
Waves at sea
Waves at the coast
Waves at the beach

Waves at a river mouth

Sea & Weather (4) Tides
Tide tables
A visual check on the tide

High / low tide cycle

Tidal range

Rule of Twelfths

Spring / Neap tides

High speed tides
Tides & rivers
Tidal bore waves

Sea & Weather (5) Currents
Tidal stream data
Crossing a strong current

Going against the current

Sea & Weather (6) More about currents
Playing with currents
Some extreme currents

Currents not caused by the tides

Overfalls & tide races

Large back eddies & whirlpools

Sea & Weather (7) Weather forecasting
Prediction from local observations
The origin of wind

Atmospheric pressure

Global circulation
Air masses

Coastal weather in North America

The classic low

The classic anticyclone


Sea & Weather (8)
Professional weather forecasts
Internet weather forecasts

Radio forecasts

Telephone forecasts
Forecasts overseas


Protecting The Environment
Wildlife under stress :
— overpopulation
— terrestrial wildlife

— marine wildlife
— what are we going to do about it?
Implications for sea kayaking
Leave No Trace ethics


Courses & vacations in North America
Courses & vacations elsewhere
Tours, treks, races & raids
Meetings & symposia
Maritime festivals

Retail Outlets

Gifts for sea kayakers

Sea kayaks, kayak kits, paddles

Clothing, accessories, magazine & book publishers, parts & materials, sailing kayaks, sailing canoes

Book list


Sea kayaking organizations by country
Traditional kayaking

Making kayaks & equipment
Other favorite websites
Good sea kayak blogs









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