I started kayaking in September last year. And who would’ve believed it? Well, not me. Who was I kidding? Kayaking!? Yeah, sure!
You see, I’m the sort of person who needs to be press-ganged into any sort of water sports, and to date had done very well to avoid them.
But when my friend and great kayak enthusiast, Federica, finally convinced me to give it a try, I sceptically went along with it.
So, there I was enrolling to a kayaking course with Carlo Coni who runs the Olè Kayak club at Poetto Beach in Cagliari, Sardinia, where I live.
Over the next month, I learnt the basics.
- Rules about safety at sea.
- Getting into and out of a kayak
- Picking up a kayak, carrying it, putting it down
- Paddling techniques and steering, forwards and backwards
- Jumping out of a kayak at sea and getting back in
- Kayak care, cleaning it down after use, and loading it for transportation
And to my surprise, I could kayak!
Yeah, sure, I had a few hiccoughs on the way like losing my balance and tripping over while getting out of the kayak once. Maybe twice! Or needing three or more attempts (and help) to get back into the kayak out at sea for the ‘now jump out and get back in exercise’.
But all in all, I was actually not bad. And I really looked forward to each of the seven two-hour lessons twice weekly with the other four ‘classmates.’ All helped by the balmy summery September evenings we get here in Sardinia.
By the end of it all I was hooked on kayaking.
What you get from kayaking
There are many pros to kayaking:
- It gets you away from your normal routine
- It helps you make-believe you are a salty seadog
- It gives you the chance to talk to cormorants up close
- It makes your day so much better mentally
- It provides physical exercise but at your own pace
- It helps you meet new friendly people for a seaworthy chat
- Or it just gives you a chance to not speak at all, and just think.
Big family of kayakers
And everyone really is okay to kayak.
Kayakers come in all shapes and sizes. All ages. All types of backgrounds. They’re introverts and extroverts.
And they all get what they want from kayaking whether as a pleasant pastime or as a means to pushing themselves physically.
What you need to get kayaking
Kayaking’s pretty cheap as a sport.
To start with, get yourself the appropriate waterproof attire. I went along to Decathlon with Federica, my trusty kayak kit consultant, and got the following for more or less €150:
- A wet suit top, and long trousers
- Kayaking shoes (you could just use flip flops)
- A couple of short sleeved tops, and one long-sleeved
- Swimming trunks
- A roll-up rain jacket
- A roll-up beach towel
- A dry bag to put your stuff in (like water, food and any of above)
- A plastic phone holder
- A life jacket is top of the list for what to wear while kayaking. They’re not expensive but I haven’t splashed out on one yet because I borrow one of the club’s.
Becoming a club team member
Joining Olè Kayak as a member of the club cost me €35 and I had to get a doctor’s certificate as a bill of health. The course cost €100. And the regular three-hour (usually morning) excursions from the beach at Cagliari to nearby Cala Mosca and beyond cost €10 a shot. Day excursions to spectacular places around the Sardinian coast cost €25. Carlo provides the kayaks but some members have their own, which they load on his trailer for transportation if they so wish.
Prices may vary for 2021, and high season kayak excursions for tourists will be subject to Carlo’s tariffing.
This year and new horizons
By starting kayaking in September, I regularly went out on excursions until January. Since then, some factors stopped me going:
- The weather got a bit worse
- Heavier lock down restrictions came in
- I had a problem with my shoulder (not kayaking’s fault)
Now, I’m looking forward to going out kayaking very soon.
Take my word for it: Everyone’s cut out to kayak
I’d recommend kayaking to anyone.
It has its dangers, of course. The expression ‘Worse things happen at sea’ hasn’t lasted for nothing.
However, I personally have always felt safe while kayaking. By going out with Carlo and other Olè Kayak club members, you are never without help at hand should you need it.
You do always have to be careful on the sea but, to be honest, most of the time, you just don’t have a care in the world out there.
Kayaking’s made me feel much more positive about life in general. The sea and its magical world really rubs off on you.
And I’ve really got to know those cormorants. They have a lot to say.
Contact Carlo Coni on 0039 3478281145 for further information.
Visit facebook page Olè Kayak sport and recreation