For $600 buy lessons or kayak?

Hi all!

We are in Tucson, Az. As complete newbies,in order to get kayak lessons, it is necessary for us to put together a group of four persons at $150 each and travel to Phoenix for a half day “intro to paddling” class. My wife and grown kids are all for it, if dad pays!! But for $600, I see that we can pretty much buy a variety of Old Town 12-14 footers(Dirigo and Adventure, which are available locally). I was wondering if we might just buy one of those and teach ourselves. We did it with canoes and sailboards. I would certainly feel more comfortable if I were more familiar with the instructor( and what we would learn in a half day. Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks!


money well spent if the instructor is GOOD. that I don’t know if this company IS.( I got a C in English!)

A good lesson MAY just convince you that the REC boats you are thinking of may NOT be the proper boats to take you where you MAY wanna go.

just my opinion.


Find another instructor

– Last Updated: May-28-07 11:48 AM EST –

Or just get the gear. I have seen Nancy Kanu argue with some pretty qualified instructors, most notably Brent Reitz regarding the forward stroke. She really was not in the physical condition to argue :+)... I have heard second hand that 1/2 of the classes involve sitting in her living room listeneing to her lecture.

half day?
as in four hours? $150 for eight hours for a group class seems ok,

As an instructor

– Last Updated: May-28-07 12:13 PM EST –

Buy the kayak. The 4 hours would be a waste of money. Obviously you are proficient on/in the water and have taught yourself other water related sports. Kayaking isn't rocket science. In the first four hours you are taught the basics which you already know. You are already beyond the 4 hour intro class. If this was your first time on the water I would advise you differently.
Kayaks are much safer and easierthan canoes.
Enjoy your new boat and happy paddling.

I agree - this isn’t rocket science
Right now you just want to get out on the water and have fun - so go do it. I think lessons are wasted on someone with zero experience - you’ll get all the answers to the questions you don’t have yet.

Get out there and have a good time - and be safe. You’ve got the rest of your life for lessons.

Where are you going to paddle in Tucson

– Last Updated: May-28-07 2:01 PM EST –

I lived in Tucson for a couple of years. There is an artificial pond on the south east side of town, and there are two nice small lakes near Patagonia near the Mexican Border. (Parker Canyon, Patagonia ) There is also lots of nice paddling in winter and early spring on the Colorado river north of Yuma and south of Needles. I highly reccomend you google for Topcock gorge and kayaking lower colorado river.

The Sea of Cortez is very close to you this where I got hooked on kayaking. You can rent sit on top kayaks there. Go down to Puerto Penasco and drive south ... you can put in anywhere you want , do not do this in the afternoon when the winds come up. Don't do it in rec sit in kayaks. If you think you would do most of your paddling on Sea of Cortex or Colorado River I would buy sit on top kayaks. Ocean Kayak Scupper Pros would be a good start.

If you are just going to paddle lakes (some good lakes up in Utah and Colorado) I would buy the rec kayaks, and some good instructional videos. If you are a decent swimmer you are not going to get in much trouble in Tucson. If you want to run the Salt , Verde or Gila rivers when high you would want different boats and some lessons.

If the company in Phoenix is Nancy Kanu she is a crackpot, stay away ! I contacted her when I was instructing boy scouts and preparing them for a canoing trip, and quickly decided she was not qualified. Later in Baja when surfing I met a bunch of whitewater paddlers from Arizona ... I won't quote their Nancy Kanu stories but trust me you don't want to spend that kind of money with her.

I would suggest coming out to San Diego, and taking some lessons at Aqua adeventures, lots of choices, flatwater, surf etc. ---- much, much better and you will be hooked on kayaking forever. Make sure whatever boats you buy you can resell them in AZ. You will probably want something better if you get hooked.

I did an all day beginners class a couple of weeks ago for $90, and my teacher was a US Whitewater team member (as luck would have it).

I had already bought my boat and am glad I got what I got, however, with lessons I had the opportunity to try everything from serious creek and white water boats as well as 17’ touring boats. Lesson’s will get you right into enjoying your boat and not ‘re-inventing’ the wheel. Something as simple as getting in and out of my kayak has become easy and routine, instead of wondering what to try next to keep from falling in the lake (i did!)

$150 seems steep from what I priced around the Dallas area. You might check your local shops and see if there’s a willing instructor locally.

I found several here.

$150 for a 4 hour lesson is too much
money. You should be able to find 1/2 day lessons for a little more than 1/3 of that price. Use the saved money for some kayaks.

I would go with instruction
If you aren’t sure about that instructor then I would look into others.

I spent a lot of years following the typical male ethic of learning on your own. I have spent the last several years re-learning technique and breaking bad habits.

The first way you learn to do something is the way you will do it when you are tired, exhausted, or the poo hits the fan.

If you aren’t sure that a class will fit your needs then explain your water background and the instructor should be able to meet your abilities and desires.

I might agree with this if…
you were learning canoeing, but come on Basic Kayaking is pretty simple.

Stick the flat wide end in the water and pull on the shaft.

Better yet, if you have an outfitter then you have paddlers in the area. I’m sure you can find an experienced one who will help you for free. We’re a pretty friendly and helpful group, most of the time.

Now, which color of kayak do you want?


– Last Updated: May-28-07 1:30 PM EST –

buy three or four videos and keep the money in the bank. Go rent a couple of kayaks and still keep the money in the bank. go rent a couple more and take the trip to a bigger outfitter, talk to them a lot and rent a couple of touring type boats and compare. Take a couple of sponsored kayak club trips so you can see a variety of kayaks and talk to each of the owners for opinions.

If people like Tsunamichuck say this instructor may not be that good or Seadarts comment that she is a crackpot..that instructor is a crackpot. Stay away. I have been on these boards enough to listen respectfully when those two give advice.

The costs you quoted are exorbitant. Maybe 150 for all four for half a day but each????? for a beginning this is how you hold the paddle class???
I have paid premium prices for instruction but that was for specific skills development like BCU 4 star training.

My two cents.


For you, boats
Normally I’m a big fan of lessons. But if you’ve taught yourself canoeing and sailboarding you probably know enough about small boats to make reasonable judgements about safety. I’d agree that a “basic” class would probably bore you, and the price quoted sounds awfully high to me.

Do realize that most rec kayaks do not come with enough flotation for easy self-rescue.

Basic kayaking is easy, but good technique will make it more efficient and safer. You can learn a lot from videos and reading.

FWIW, I started paddling with a full-day on-the-water sea kayak class – it was $80 8 years ago, and worth every penny.

Lessons To Go

Simply superb. Share the Dvds, then buy the bnats.

Quality instruction…

– Last Updated: May-28-07 5:15 PM EST –

I don't think that "high quality instruction, given by a "highly skilled" instructor is something to "blow off" as a waste of time.

I don't care what your skill level is, or what you "think" your skill level is; everyone, from beginner to expert can learn something new.

As a matter of fact; I have never heard any highly skilled, instructor trainer say, "I know it all". Some of those I speak of have written books on canoeing/kayaking, some have been on major first descent expeditions, some are/were trainers at nationally know paddling schools, and some were/have been Olympic paddlers.

That being said; I think 150 bucks per person, for 4 hours of an introdution to kayaking class is exorbitant, to say the least. I'd do a little research. Bet you can find better for less.

Yes, there are some skills you can learn from videos. Yes, there are some skills you can learn by practicing on your own. Yes, there are some skills you can learn with help from a more experienced(not necessarily an instructor) paddler. Those are options you might consider.


If nothing else…
150.00 EACH for a half day paddling session is way to much to pay. I took a three hour course a few years ago at Rutabaga for 40.00.

Buy a book for ten or fifteen dollars
and teach yourselves.

It is a never stop learning experience once you teach yourself the basics.

The more you paddle, the more you will learn. The more you learn the more questions you will have and if you ask them here you can weed out the good advice from the bad and continue until you are proficient.



You should have warned them
to stay away from B&B. All your fault.

IMHO- just get on the water
There are plenty of good books and videos on paddling technique which are available at many libraries (or available through[Eh Brett].

Just paddle- and being on the water should make you want to progress further.

There are many classes in my locale where people learn safety and rescues but can’t, and don’t paddle after the classes. Give yourself an appreciation of being on the water and if you choose to move forward, take classes or study what’s available in the media.

I agree with everyone . . .
Instruction can be really helpful to get through sticking points and improve technique.

Those “intro” classes are boring, and don’t teach you anything you can’t learn from a book. They ought to be cheap and given by retailers or clubs. Certainly isn’t worth $600. You could also have one person take a $35 class and then teach the others.

Save your dollars, you may need to pay for quality instruction if you want to really advance your skills later.

Play safe, have fun.