Ocean Kayaking in Acadia
Maine kayaking, an added adventure for your vacation in Bar Harbor. Getting out on the water gives you a very special perspective of the ocean. You are part of it. You see what those gulls see, you feel the ocean tides and currents, get followed by a curious seal. It’s not to be missed. The smells, the sounds, the feelings all are unique in a small quiet boat. No motor, no fumes, no noise. Just the quiet splash as your paddle enters and exits the water.
It took me years to get excited about going out in a kayak. I remember that my mother had a friend that was always bringing her kayak with her to the lake, and inviting everyone to try it. Having experienced canoeing at a young age, I remembered the “tippiness”; I didn’t like it much. I always felt that the canoe was going to tip over and dunk me in the cold water. So I didn’t want to try kayaking.
Boy was I wrong. Kayaks are nothing like canoes. You are sitting just at the water’s surface, down low and right at the water’s interface with the sky. While the kayak moves a bit as you shift your weight, it’s not going to flip as easily as a canoe. Don’t get me wrong, you can flip a kayak, it just isn’t very easy to do. You need high waves, or reaching way beyond your center of gravity to tip the kayak. If that scares you, start your experience in a warm pond (Blunt’s Pond is just up the road from us), not a cold body of water. Always wear a life jacket – we offer 4 sizes here at SeaCat’s Rest – and I mean wear it, not just have it in the boat.
Kayaks are also for all ages – at least if kids can follow directions – I would say from 6 years old to 80 years young. You do need to be flexible – that is, able to get up and out of the boat. Other than that – it’s a sport for those who need not be very fit. Of course, you start slow and go slow, but you can paddle without much effort having little arm strength (I know from experience); I can paddle 3 miles without any issues.
You do need a boat that fits you. We have two sizes of boats, one for light weight folks (weight limit under 130 pounds) or 65 kgs. If you are a taller person, you need a long kayak for lake or ocean adventures. Ocean kayaks are long and lean, they don’t turn fast, but they go straight easily and can accommodate 6 foot 5 inches tall folks. Of course they are not good at stream and river riding, so stay in open water. If you have waves in a kayak, you will get wet. So don’t go out among whitecaps. Here at Frenchman Bay, we only get wind generated waves on our bay, no big ocean swells. This makes kayaking possible most days in the spring, summer and fall.
Also there is a big difference between paddling a canoe and a kayak. With a canoe, you are sitting high and paddle goes low into the water, after a while, you might switch to the other side because your arms and back ache. With a kayak, you have a different situation. First of all, you are just paddling your own weight, the kayak is supported by the water and becomes weightless. Second, you are working both sides of your body at the same time, alternating sides that you paddle. Third, you can go fast, rest or go slow, your choice. And fourth, you have your back braced in a triangle with your knees up against the sides of the kayak – making a strong supported base to paddle from.
Kayaking on a large calm bay or lake is the way to start. No current to manage, no obstacles to avoid. It’s easy, it’s exercise without the sweat. Now, if you want it can be an exertion, you can go out in demanding weather, or waves, or in a spring fed stream and rush along with the water in a whitewater situation. In fact, it can be quite challenging. Kayaks have built-in floatation for edgy uses. The point is, the challenge is your choice, and here at Frenchman Bay it’s your choice and your decision.
You have a range of choices when it comes to kayaking. A guided tour in Bar Harbor, rent kayaks on your own, bring your own or borrow our kayaks for free while you rent from us.