We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Kayak Safety

Michigan
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
3,139 posts
226 reviews
Save Topic
Kayak Safety

Any comments on the safety of kayaking? I have read on these threads about the fun times people have kayaking in Alaska. My husband refuses to consider kayaking. He said if the kayak tips, you are dead. Please tell me he is wrong and what I can say to convince him otherwise.

Manitoba, Canada
Level Contributor
6,894 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: Kayak Safety

Well, I did read recently of someone who died when his kayak overturned. But he couldn't swim, didn't wear a lifejacket, and went kayaking by himself while his friends stayed on shore. By the time someone heard his cries for help and swam out, it was too late.

I trust your husband wouldn't be that foolish, and will wear a floatation device whether he knows how to swim or not. Further, your husband will not be alone. There will be many willing hands (yours, the guide's, other kayakers) if he needs assistance.

If the kayak overturns, all he has to do is release the sprayskirt and push the kayak off his legs as if he was taking off a pair of pants, then swim to the surface. If he has the presence of mind to take a deep breath before going under, that would help, but is not necessary. Ten seconds is all it would take.

Some kayak tours give a "lesson" before they go, but I've heard that sometimes doesn't happen even when advertised. So what I would suggest is to find a local kayaking club and ask for a private lesson so hubby can familiarize himself with kayaking techniques without being self-conscious in front of a bunch of strangers. He can even try a practice rollover if he wants to, so he will have the actual experience of exiting the kayak underwater with the instructor right there to make sure he's safe. Then hubby can decide if he feels confident to kayak in Alaska.

But bottom line, if he still doesn't want to, it's not fair to try to force him. As long as he isn't insisting that YOU can't go either.

PA
Level Contributor
116 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Kayak Safety

I took an adventure cruise in Alaska a few years ago. We had no kayak accidents. I think they are hard to tip, the ones they use are usually kind of wide they aren't the narrow ones you see the pro's using. They did allow a polar bear swim for anyone who was interested. Just a quick jump in the water with life vests on, it was cold but we survived!

Grand Rapids, MI
Level Contributor
134 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Kayak Safety

My sister and I went kayaking while in Alaska in Ketchikan. We had a tandem kayak. We too were afraid that it might tip but everythinmg was fine! The tour company told us that they usually only have one kayak tip all season and it's usally people messing around. I highly recommend the kayaking if you can convince your husband! It was one of our favorite parts of our trip.

Have fun!

Alaska
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
1,796 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Kayak Safety

There is all the difference in the world between an ocean / touring kayak and a competition kayak. The first one is very stable and hard to tip. If you can canoe comfortably, then you can truly enjoy this! The competition kayaks are deliberately built to twist and turn on a dime, and so are 'unstable' and demand a skilled operator - but can go through the specatcular rivers and rocks you may see in some films and competitions.

Given your post, I would say take a guided tour, the people who lead you are fantastic and of great help, follow all of the safety proceedures they give you, including using the safety vest. You should have a great experience. I much prefer a kayak to a canoe. It is easier to handle, control and much less strenuous to paddle.

71

5. Re: Kayak Safety

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

TripAdvisor staff removed this post either because the author requested it, or because it did not meet TripAdvisor's forum guidelines.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 7:20 pm, January 12, 2008
Alaska
9 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Kayak Safety

I am new to the forum, but wanted to reply to some of the misinformation being spread about Bear Glacier being "unsafe", like in the post above.

Please inform us why you feel this is unsafe. Do you have some facts to share with us that might support this statement?

My own background is that I have worked in Coastal Alaska as a wilderness guide for 3 seasons leading all kinds of different trips, ranging from bear viewing to kayaking.

I have also talked to a number of others who have been to Bear Glacier as well, and no one has ever mentioned a single injury or bad experience visiting Bear Glacier.

Having said all that, Bear Glacier is probably one of the best wilderness experiences I have ever had in Alaska, and it was a completely safe and enjoyable trip, contrary to what the untruthful post above may state. Granted, I have some decent backcountry experience, but I went there ALONE for 3-4 days for an extended visit to explore the area.

I was dropped off and picked up by Aquetec Water Taxi of Seward. I can't speak highly enough about the quality of their service, and their experience getting people to and from Bear Glacier safely.

This was a GREAT trip that I would recommend as a must see while in the area.

Olympia, Washington
Level Contributor
193 posts
21 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Kayak Safety

happytraveler,

I live in Alaska and personally own a kayak as does my husband. Kayaking in Alaska does pose risk to some degree, but as long as you are prepared and smart with your kayak and gear you have nothing to worry about. Number one is always, always, always have a PFD (personal floation device). Next wear gear that will allow you to stay some what warm while in the water. You can wear a wet suit or dry suit. Carry emergency gear in case you do tip. A float for your paddle will help you re-enter the kayak. Most places that rent will have this gear included on your trip. Also read up on kayaking and wet-exits as well as single re-entry and tandem re-entry.

Kayaking in Alaska is awesome. It allows you to go where other boats cannot take you. You will see things that take your breath away. But if you are new to kayaking... getting use to the "balance" in kayaking can be a little daunting at first. But move slowly, feel your boat and paddle away. I hope your husband will reconsider. It will be a memorable experience. If you have any more questions, I will do my best to answer them.

Alaska
9 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Kayak Safety

AlaskanMom offers some great advice in her reply. I pretty much concur with everything she has said. Also, if you decide to inquire about kayaking further, many guided trips are offered in relatively stable kayaks that will, to varying extents, help minimize tipping.

On a related note, there is an alternative available to kayaking if you do not wish to kayak. Alpacka rafts are inflatable boats that are designed for a single person, and they generally offer a lot more stability than a kayak can provide. The construction of these boats is bulletproof, and they have a great reputation for durability and saftey.

Recently a younger couple from up here paddled these boats from Seattle in the lower 48 to Alaska, and they have circumnavigated the Kenai Peninsula in them also.

The same outfit I mentioned in my post above - Aquetec Water Taxi in Seward - rents these great little boats and is also offering guided trips to Bear Glacier also. You may want to check that out as an option for your trip. I am planning on doing some exploring in one of these on my time off this coming summer.

Miller's Landing...
Level Contributor
50 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Kayak Safety

hi, there are many examples over the years but i will name a few.... Our family homestead here in Alaska and we all hold Master's licenses for Boat Captains except for one of us. So lots of experience in this area and lots of local knowledge... if you have only been paddling the area for the last 3 years you may not be aware of the past incidences...

Bear Glacier has huge icebergs in it that are several stories high that can tip over at any time.. and they do that.... When this happens, ice can crush into your kayak, and you are being dumped into very icy cold waters.... the dangers of the icebergs by comparison in Pederson Lagoon, in Aialik Bay are not quite as dangerous for several reasons but mainly because those are far smaller and grounded, thus far safer to be paddling around, and by the way just as beautiful!

getting in and out of Bear Glacier is tricky to say the least. We also go in there from time to time for things like taking national geographic photographers in there and many years ago we used to go in and out of there to do bear hunting dropoffs. The ocean beach is exposed... if you look at a chart of that area it clearly shows a totally exposed beach to the Gulf of Alaska... this creates dumping surf and the river channel entrance also changes daily, making it a difficult entrance to navigate. Going into the glacier area there on only one engine is also risky (most water taxis use two engines so that you always have a spare if one goes out). There are often standing breakers there at the entrance.

Not too many years ago there were a couple of guys who dumped their boat trying to get off of Bear Glacier once they had landed. They were trying to get bouys off of the beach. The Coast Guard had to send a helicopter out to get the remaining 4. One of the people drowned and died. This made the town newpaper and when it happened they interviewed the Navigation Instructor, Roger Mercer who stated he did not think anyone should ever be going in or out of there as it was just too iffy and too dangerous. For years the wife of the drowned victim came to Seward to drop roses in the water on the anniversary date.

Another boat was lost several years ago for the same reason but nobody died. They were very fortunate.

Another time there was a young man who had borrowed his father's boat to go hunting out there and also dumped it trying to get into the lagoon. The Coast Guard also had to rescue them. The boat was destroyed and our family went out there to get their remaining gear off the beach..what was left of it.

It is doable... you CAN get in and out of there and all of the water taxi operators have done it. It is just that it is dangerous, iffy, and has everything going against it. Everything needs to be perfect and it is not a place that you would want to be gambling on your only engine going out, getting the prop hit by going in on too low of a tide, or being stranded at.

Those with lots of local knowledge can manage it but there is a reason why most don't go in there, and why most do not want to assume the risks and the liabilty of paddling in there or navigating in there.

Nobody could ever question that bear glacier is beautiful. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Is it safe? Absolutely not.

Miller's landing

Seward Alaska

10. Re: Kayak Safety

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

TripAdvisor staff has removed this post because it did not meet TripAdvisor's forum guidelines with regards to off-topic chat. Please limit conversations to subject matter directly related to the host forum. For example: when in the London forum, please stick to topics that relate to travel within the London Metropolitan Area.

Off-Topic Chatter is a forum for discussions gone afield from the topic of travel. Please note that the Off-Topic Chatter forum is un-moderated -- the Forum Posting Guidelines are not enforced, with the exception of pornographic images or text, hate speech, unauthorized re-prints of copyrighted text, and messages that promote or encourage illegal activities. Each user is expected to take responsibility for his or her own conduct.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 4:01 pm, January 29, 2008