The Complete Book of Sea Kayaking by Derek Hutchinson
reviewed by Robyn Khorshid, Swan Canoe Club
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Are you venturing to sea as a first paddling experience? This is almost the perfect book to help launch you on your sea kayaking career. Even those with some land based paddling experience will find this book a most valuable guide to improving their paddling.
The explanations are extremely clear with, best of all, colour drawings, to aid them. These diagrams make it perfectly obvious which way is up and so forth, for example, in the eskimo rolling sections of the book.
There are chapters on basic equipment and basic strokes and techniques and more advanced of the same, such as eskimo rolling. The author is well known for an earlier book, "Eskimo Rolling for Survival".
Then surfing is covered, again the basic technique for beginners and more advanced for those wanting to practise acrobatics. So take note, surf rodeoists, here you will find all the tips on 'endos', 'flicks' and 'pop-outs'. The detail in the explanations, the "why" gives a good understanding as to what one should be aiming for in one's basic paddling technique, as well as all the fancy stuff!
The section on rescues would be useful for river runners as well as those on (or in) the ocean. New to me was how to get going again when everyone has capsized and you are a long swim away from the shore! Though paddling alone is not advised for most canoeists, there is also a "how to self rescue" when alone, just in case. I found the deep water repairs section also of great interest.
Weather and ocean vagaries are covered in chapters on waves, winds and weather and tides and tidal streams. Some of this information is not relevant for us, as the author is based in the British Isles, but the principles are the same.
There is also a chapter on navigation.
Lastly, there is a most interesting chapter on the arctic origins of the sea kayak. The author has 'dug up' some wonderful old photos of the eskimoes in their skin kayaks from old books and museums in Denmark and America.
This is not a tedious 'how to' manual. Throughout there are anecdotes from the author's many years' personal experience, with plenty of photographs. The conversations by the cartoon participants of the lesson-diagrams add a humorous touch.
There is an index, bibliography and conversion table to finish with and a number of full colour advertisements from manufacturers of sea kayaks and gear.
To sum up, this is a very 'user friendly' book where there is nothing that you will not understand. It is the "how to" book to invest some dollars in, if you are about to buy a sea kayak and head out to sea.
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