Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Advice: 5 Tips for What to Do With Your Kayaking Off Season

Happy 2018! In 2017, I started this blog, as well as some other online content channels (Facebook, Twitter,), and embarked on the exciting journey of digital publishing. In 2018, I will continue to refine the content I offer, and to add some other options for my readers - stay tuned.

It's been a frigid couple of weeks here in New England, as well as in much of the continental U.S., and the last thing on most people's minds is heading to the water (unless it's some idyllic Caribbean white sand beach 😎). We have been under attack by a dip of the jet stream drawing Arctic air south, and it looks like there is more to come in the near future. This is a time in New England when many paddlers hang their paddles on a rack and instead opt for a set of snowshoes or skis. Some of us just stay inside writing blog posts - hunkered down until the Spring brings us some relief. That said, all is not lost for the kayaker during these months (this is "Cold Water Kayaker" after all 😋), and here are a few suggestions for how to use your down time to improve your paddling experiences:
It was 90F degrees here in August 

1. Fix Your Gear. You inevitably dinged, scratched, tore, or otherwise maligned some piece(s) of equipment over this past paddling season. Why not use the down time to fix what you can? Re-seal hull penetrations, stitch up fabric tears, replace worn-out hardware, put new O-rings on drain plugs - whatever needs doing. When the paddling season starts up again, you'll be ready. Use online videos that show you how, and check out my post Kayak Repairs That Last

2. Research, Research, Research. The winter months can provide a great opportunity to spend that time you can never seem to spare in the warm weather to research where to paddle, what equipment you might want to purchase, what techniques you need to improve upon and how to do that, online resources for advice (like this blog, for instance 😉), paddling groups you might want to join - really anything you didn't get around to investigating during the paddling season. Do your homework now, reap the rewards later. For some suggestions on planning kayaking trips, read my post Where Should I Paddle?.

3. Take Advantage of Off Season Deals. I've mentioned in previous posts and on my ABOUT me page that I don't like to spend a lot of money on gear (at least when I don't have to). I've purchased plenty of used gear, including kayaks from places like Craigslist and hardware from eBay. I've also purchased a kayak from a paddle touring company a season old, used it for several seasons, then sold it again for half of what I paid. People who are selling items when the market is not at it's highest demand for them (snowmobiles in the spring, motorcycles in the fall, etc.) are advertising that they might be flexible with pricing. Otherwise, they'd wait until they had a better chance of getting top dollar. The same can be said for kayaking gear in the winter. If it's on Craigslist in December and January, you should negotiate steadfastly - and maybe pick up a deal. If they won't negotiate, look elsewhere. Also keep an eye out for retailers who are looking to move off season water gear at a discount, if any is left over and they need to liquidate inventory.

4. Exercise. There is nothing that will mimic the exact movement of drawing a paddle through water, bracing, lifting your boat to a car roof, etc. You just have to do it to get better at it, and more fit for it in the process. However, you can still keep up your general fitness to make your return to extended paddle condition quicker when you get back on the water. Keep your grip strong, work on your balance, keep your shoulders and back strong and flexible, and try to work on any nagging areas where an injury has lingered. Eat healthy food and don't put on too many "hibernation" pounds. Use a winter pass time like hiking, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing to keep your endurance. Work on your range of motion. All of these activities will set you on the right path for your return to paddling.

5. Dream. I've heard it said the anticipation of an event or activity can greatly impact the overall enjoyment of it. So, why not let your mind wander to that paddle trip you have planned for a new destination on some sun drenched summer day? Just make sure to actually schedule it, so it doesn't remain only a dream. Let your mind's eye gaze over the places you have only seen on a map, or on a blog, or a paddler's forum. Relish the preparation and talk about it with whomever will accompany you. Then, when it finally arrives, let it unfold like a flower from the seed you planted in your mind, and nurtured until it blossomed in reality. That will surely help keep the winter chill off your mind.

The snow may fall, the wind may blow, and old man winter may knock at your door. Tell him to take a hike - you're busy working on your gear and dreaming about that paddle trip you've meant to do for years. Make 2018 the year .

TB on the Water 





No comments: