New paddler wanted to say hi

Hi everyone! I am new to Kayaking and just picked up this older generation Old Town Castine. Any tips on kayaking or things I need are welcome and appreciated!

Welcome! Nice boat.

Very important is a paddling specific life vest that you always wear.

Loads of information here at pCom as well as at this site:

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Thanks! I did order a PFD already, waiting for that to come in before I hop on the water.


Nice hull should be fast.

Where are you paddling? Water types available to your location ie river, lake, ocean, bays, or?

Any paddling experience? Take at least a few classes.

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Super. I don’t know your paddling experience, but if you haven’t had any instruction, a lesson with an ACA instructor would be helpful as it would include learning how to capsize and re-enter your kayak in deep water.

Have a wonderful and safe paddling journey!


See what is required on your state when using a kayak at the bare minimum.

Spray skirt if you take lessons on wet exiting. You can watch videos on YouTube to get familiar. Then a few lessons as suggested above.

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Welcome and congrats on your “new” kayak!

Others have made good suggestions. I’d add checking out some videos of how to tie a kayak into J racks - you’ll want each strap to go over the kayak twice and the bottom should loop under your crossbars, not through the closed loop of the J’s. Easier to see than describe so check Yakima or Thule’s websites for some visual help.


Thanks everyone! I live in the SF Bay Area so no shortage of water around me. I plan to start in calm lakes and rivers before trying the open bay and ocean.

Looks like a lot people are suggesting taking lessons so I’ll definitely look into that!


Oh wow! Lucky ducky! Loads of certified kayak instructors in your area. Maybe @Peter-CA can suggest a few…he’s certified ACA as well.


I work as an instructor for Sea Trek in Sausalito, and of course would recommend them. California Canoe and Kayak in Oakland, Redwood City, or Sacramento is the largest retailer in the area, and has good instructors. Half Moon Bay Kayaks, Clavey Padlesports (Petaluma), and Kayak Connection (Santa Cruz) are all good for the intro class, if they are closer to you. REI could be ok, but take the Intro to Coastal Kayaking class, not the Learn to Kayak class.

Definitely consider joining Bay Area Sea Kayakers ( and/or Western Sea Kayakers (, both good local clubs and excellent resources and they have many club paddles you can join. BASK is a bit more SF/north bay where WSK is a bit more San Jose/Santa Cruz, but lots of overlap.

BASK does have a section of their page which covers much of what you are looking for in this post - a list of skills and gear you should consider having. And links to articles and videos on how to do the skills.


Thanks for all the info! Definitely gonna read into both groups and probably join one. I’m located in Mountain View but wouldn’t mind driving north because I love the Marin County area.

Wow. Did you see the car on that kayak. You got to be slim. Hey. You live near SF Bay. Protected water in a nice calm bay. So fortunate. I’m no kayak roller, but it’s a great thing in that nice warm California water. Yikes. You are starting right and lots of great people with great advice. I just saw a White Water video posted by PaddleDog. You might enjoy it. That’s all I can offer. Happy days.

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Um, warn California water is a myth. The ocean off of SF right now is running about 60F (15C), which is a few degrees warmer than average. In the Central Bay (the part right off of SF/Oakland) it is a few degrees warmer. The far north or south ends of the bay are approaching 70F (the OP lives near the south end, so if they paddle there they would have decently warm water). On the coast or in central bay, the standard is to wear some form of thermal protection (wet suit or dry suit) year round.


Always use bow and stern tiedowns. Crosswinds can really torque a boat, especially with J-bars. It will protect your boat, rack system, car, and others if something fails. It’s also a warranty requirement for most rack manufacturers.

A cockpit cover is a good idea and not that expensive to use when transporting or storing your boat. You would be amazed at how heavy your boat will be if it picks up a few inches of rain in it.

Be sure to have a whistle or other sound producing device. USCG requirement and in many places the same stiff fine as no PFD.

Always wear your PFD and dress for immersion. Lessons are always the way to start out. A good instructor will cover all of the safety issues that you may not have though of. Learn how to get back into the boat in deep water. I’d advise againt paddling solo to start out.

Have fun!


Peter-CA. I new it was warm. Actually, all my sarcasm aside. I’m a bit shocked that it gets that warm. With the tides, and the cooler bottom temperature. I imagine churning could actually pull you under. We enjoy 70° Chesapeake Bay temps in May. They have been cooler this year in the 80° degree range then climbing to 82° by afternoon. We often hit 86° and shallows feel like bathwater. You make a good point. Many deep trenches in a generally shallow bay. Anyone interested in the Chesapeake, I can recommend an exception but short manual that’s under $10. I’m trying to figure out if you can predict turbulent spots by reading a chart that show s depressions. Got nothing else to do out there. Thanks for making that know. It has to be a rush, and if there’s a place where you probably better have a first class boat, the skill, stamina and reflexes, as well as a skirt, immersion suit, and solid roll/self rescue info, from what I’ve seen so far, you look like one of the forums best resource. We have places like that, but they’re shallow basins measured in acre sized area with 30 foot openings - Still Pond and Fairlee Creek.

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Can’t add much to what has been said.

Joining a group will definitely increase your learning curve, and you will make paddling friends in the process.

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And sometimes bruises. But it don’t matter. Because
Nobody can hurt me more than the kayak, but I keep going back. I’m still trying to figure out how that dog keeps showing up in all those pictures. The dog goes more places than me, I knew a free range chicken that did that. Liked Roy Orbison. I must be getting hungry. I got fresh caught Striped Bass Rock Fish from Pooles Island thereabouts.