Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Paddling Equipment
I recently purchased a 12 foot kayak that I needed for a Least Bittern and King Rail study, the study site not being terribly accessible from the land side. I cannot tell you how great this boat is! The company that makes it is called Native and the model is their Ultimate 12, incredibly stable because of a unique pontoon-like hull design. It is a hybrid of sorts, combining the best parts of a kayak, canoe, and sit-on-top. The seat is superb in being like a beach chair; nylon webbing stretched over an aluminum frame. The boat itself is "plastic" so it can take a real beating as you wiggle through the marsh, mud, sticks and rocks. It is 30 inches wide.

There are always at least one or two things that are not so great with any boat, but that is inherent in being a boat. The Ultimate 12 is a bit heavy at 45 pounds but I find it not too bad to handle getting it on and off the car. There is a cup holder that is in the wrong place (right under your paddle possition) and the seat is sometimes tough to install and remove. All-in-all, if you are considering a kayak, you must give this one a try.

The costs of many kayaks are really quite affordable now. On a recent foray into Walmart, I noticed a $230 kayak that looked not-half-bad. Keep in mind, you may need to camouflage the bright blue with some camo decals if you are trying to see birds. Also, when selecting a paddle, purchase an all black model; to be less visible to birds. White, yellow, and brightly colored paddles with scare-off the birds. And always remember to observe from a distance; no loving to death.

CT Audubon and I will be offering some more paddle events before too long. We used to do paddle demos in the past and some trips where you could rent a kayak for the day. Let us know if this interests you by dropping us a note at and give me a call if you want some advice on purchasing a boat. Let us know if you already own a boat or are hoping to rent.