Welcome to the wonderful world of Kayaking!

You are going to love this. A great workout and a great way to travel on the water without gasoline! Just you and the paddle. Easy to do and always the best way to experience our Great Lakes!

When beginners sign up for one of our kayak tours, we take ample time on shore before we embark to give basic technique and safety instruction. We will equip you with a kayak, a paddle, and life vest, and make sure everything fits just right.

Kayaking 101 - EASY AS 1, 2, 3!

Step 1: Paddling Technique

  • Fit your life vest for comfort and optimal range of motion for paddling.

  • Grasp the paddle with both hands, a little more than shoulder-width apart. Keep your elbows relaxed and bent slightly. From time to time, check to be sure you are keeping your hands positioned correctly.

  • As you hold the paddle, you should be able to read any words on the paddle head right-side up. If not, flip the paddle so that you can read the text. Check on this from time to time as well to be sure to get maximum power out of your stroke.

  • Take a paddle stoke on the left side: Point the left side of the paddle toward the nose of the boat and down at the water. Pull backwards, towards yourself, with your top hand (left), and push forwards, away from yourself, with your bottom hand. There is a slight rotating motion, as you keep the paddle head flush with the surface of the water, and perpindicular to the direction of motion. *Hint - this motion results in a fulcrum being created in between your hands, which stays fairly stationary.

  • Now try the same thing, but on the right side. Repeating right-left, right-left in this way is called "forward paddling" because we move forward in the kayak with this technique. The motion is of pulling water from in front of you, and then pushing it behind you.

  • When you paddle on one side only, you will turn to the opposite side. So if you want to turn left, paddle forward on the right side only.

  • Backwards paddling moves the kayak in reverse: pulling water from behind you, and pushing it forward.

  • Paddling backwards on one side will also turn the kayak: if you paddle bakward on one side, you turn to that side. So if we paddle backwards on the left, we will move to the left and either slow down, or move backwards slightly.

Step 2: Entering & Exiting the Kayak

  • Position a leg on either side of the kayak, just in front of the seat. Bend your knees and squat your kaboose down into the seat.

  • Pull your legs in one at a time and adjust foot rests. Our kayaks have handles to make adjustment easier and our guides will help you get them just right.

  • Your knees should be slightly bent, with your feet resting gently, but firmly, on the foot pegs. This is to help maintain balance as well as give you leverage to push off of as you paddle.

  • When you exit the kayak, reverse the instructions: pull one leg out at a time on either side of the kayak, bend your knees, and stand up.

Step 3: On the Water

  • Balance is the key. Take it nice and easy and you will get the hang of it.

  • As your kayak starts moving forward, aim the bow of your kayak in a desired direction and get to work! Remember to turn a little bit as you paddle forward by throwing in some forward or backward paddles on one side only. Adjusting your heading in this way keeps you under complete control of your direction. 

  • Use a torso rotation along with arm push and pull. Plant your feet but also relax. Inhale. Exhale. Feel yourself glide on the water paddling in your own rhythm.

  • Be alert for boat traffic and make yourself visible at night with lights.

  • When you are ready for bigger waves, turn and face them head on! Take a 45 degree angle and zig zag over the waves to avoid being rolled.

  

SUP 101 - EASY AS 1, 2, 3!

You have been wanting to do this but haven't had the opportunity...yet. Maybe you think that it's too hard or you can't do something like this? Well here is your chance to amaze yourself at what you really can do! Take the Great Turtle challange and get on a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP). It simply is a large surf board and a long paddle that has a uniquely agled blade. The paddles we have are adjustable to fit for your personal height. You want the handle of the paddle to be about 10 inches taller your head.

Step 1: Paddling Technique

  • Grip the top handle of the paddle with one hand, and grip the middle of the paddle with the other hand.

  • Pull backwards with the bottom hand, while you push forward with the top hand. *Hint - this motion results in a fulcrum point being created in between your hands, this fulcrum point stays fairly stationary.

  • Keep the paddle head flush with the water, and perpindicular to the direction of motion.

Step 2: Getting on the Board

  • Get in the water with your paddle and board, making sure to be in at least 1 to 2 feet of water before setting the board down in the water. The "skeg" is a fin on the bottom of the board: make sure not to dash it on the rocks!

  • Brace the board with both hands and lay on the board in the prone position (on your belly)

  • Slowly move to your knees, or all fours if you're more comfortable.

  • Hold your paddle in one hand and stand up one foot at a time, aiming to stand shoulder width apart, and standing in the middle of the board.

Step 3: On the Water

  • Paddle about 2-3 times on one side before switching to the other side.

  • Switch hand position as you switch sides: the top hand moves to the bottom, and vice versa.

  • Keep your knees bent slightly, and you can even dip your hips a little as you paddle for an extra boost.
  • If you get tired, get down on all fours or on your knees, and rest your legs.

And that's it! Now that you know the basics, it will be easy for our guides to lead you through the rest - You're ready to reserve one of our tours for an unforgettable time on Mackinac Island!