Autumn, that time of the year when you are either relieved the heat of summer is finally over, or you’re dreading the chill approach of winter. When you turn your mind to – do I put my kayak in storage (or for some, do I start taking it out for the season ahead)?
For those new to kayaking, perhaps it seems such an obvious thing – kayaking is on the water and summer is for water sports., so winter is no time to be going kayaking.
There’s certainly no argument that summer is a great time for kayaking. Spending those long summer days at the beach, benefitting from those cooling breezes coming off the water. Not having to worry about getting wet, in fact inviting the opportunities to benefit from the splash of paddle on water, or even the refreshing dip from a (deliberate?) fall into the water.
One of life’s real joys is setting off from Victoria Point, paddling the short distance over to the sandy beaches of Coochiemudlo Island, landing on the beach, jumping in for a refreshing swim, before heading up to the café for an ice-cream. That’s what summer kayaking is all about.
But there are some downsides to summer paddling. The sun is at its strongest for heat, glare, and UV rays – all of which require protection and some forethought – cool and appropriate clothing, sunglasses, hats, and sun-screen. Protection can only go so far though; the other measure is to limit your exposure – which might then limit how far you can adventure on the day. As for that cooling breeze – yes, it’s great when it’s from the front or side, but you won’t feel its cooling properties when it is coming from directly behind you.
Winter on the other hand, has its distinct advantages. Wearing a long-sleeved shirt for sun protection suddenly becomes more comfortable in winter (the trick is to layer your clothing for warmth). That harsh light becomes subtler, the blue sky seems to deepen, the green of the vegetation more verdant. Hydration is always important, but you will need less in winter, and the range of your trips can increase to explore areas normally out of reach.
For me though, to see the biggest benefits of paddling in winter, look down. Notice how the water is clearer, you can see the bottom in more places, and best yet, those sea creatures like dolphins, turtles, rays and dugong are more likely to be observed.
Sure, you need to avoid those bitterly cold, blustery windy days – no-one wants to go out in those conditions, any more than you would go out in a summer thunderstorm.
Winter provides a great incentive to improve your technical skills – for one, staying above the water becomes much more important, for another, mastering your strokes to minimize splashes and drips makes life a lot more comfortable.
Dressing appropriately is never more important than in winter. As mentioned before layers that can be removed as you warm up, or added as you cool down help you to regulate your body temperature. Having dry clothes to change into, either with you or back at your car, is also a good idea.
Fortunately for Redlands Kayak Tours, we are based in beautiful South-East Queensland, so year-round paddling is both possible and enjoyable. The waters of Moreton Bay and around the Redlands coast line are ideal for paddling – just adjust for the conditions.
But even if you are not as fortunate where you live, don’t just reject the thought of paddling in winter – it has its own rewards.
We look forward to seeing you on the water – summer or winter.