I set this blog up for a couple of reasons. I wanted to try sea kayaking for years but for some reason never seemed able to make a start. One day though, I just did it. It has since occurred to me, and I don’t really understand why, that sea kayaking doesn’t seem to fall naturally into the domain of many women. So, I hope to offer some clues on how to go about it. Or at least how I went about it and the many rewards that sea kayaking brings with a little perseverance.
An entire new world opened up as I left the land and looked back at its shapes and textures from offshore. Sea kayaking can be scary and dangerous, especially because of the lure to get to places and see things just not possible to access any other way, or which take on a different perspective when arrived at by boat. Just as there’s the feeling of immersion with swimming, with kayaking there’s a feeling of leaving, to “clear out…to get beneath the surface of the daily world, as a sleeper shrugs off the ordinary air and crests toward dreams” *.
With respect to open water swimming, I started in 2012. I swim each Saturday morning with a group of people, in any weather, at Williamstown. It’s always great fun and brings the same rewards as kayaking – doing things that you thought were unattainable, whether it’s distance, braving cold water, or simply getting out of bed after a late night. Equipment-wise it’s a lot simpler than sea kayaking: a swimming wetsuit, bootees, neoprene hat and gloves in winter, goggles and cap are pretty much it. The Williamstown Mussels website has a page on gear for winter swimming (see link). And we’re not icebergers.
About me – I am reasonably fit and active, and in my mid-fifties. I don’t think age is an issue if you like being outdoors, without being overly bothered by cold water for part of the year. I think the trick is finding some like-minded people and enjoying the environment, regardless. I’m a botanist by trade and I love being outside, in all sorts of conditions. Both swimming and paddling are great exercise, low impact and especially easy on the knees. In fact, paddling is probably close to perfect, everything gets a workout from the toes up. Most of all though, it’s good for the soul.
I’m still very much a sea kayaking novice and this blog is not intended to relate tales of derring-do on the high seas. It is mostly about the delights of swimming and kayaking close to Melbourne: about what you can do, on your back doorstep, on a weekend, with a couple of other things chucked in.
* Olivia Laing, “To the River”