Going wild: Gotta row with the flow when you're kayaking

Going wild: Gotta row with the flow when you're kayaking

Afloat on the waters off Sai Kung, YP sub-editor Lucy Christie enjoyed her time away from the hectic pace of city life


Young Post sub-editor Lucy Christie paddling a "sit-on-top" kayak off the coast of Sai Kung
Photos: Lucy Christie and Andy Schallenberger

I wish I had an enthralling tale to tell about me being chased by a shark around the raging waters of Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park as cameraman Andy battled jellyfish, and Dan, my Dragonfly instructor, fended off venomous sea urchins.

Sadly, my day was nothing like that.

Paddling lazily across the perfectly still, turquoise water with not a cloud in the sky, it took all of my focus to remember I was technically at work.

It'd be easy to assume, as I did, that all ocean-based kayaking is referred to as sea kayaking. After mentally preparing myself for this activity for weeks, I suddenly had to come to terms with the realisation that it wasn't actually what I'd be doing.

As Dan explained, sea kayaks are much longer and skinnier than the kayaks we usually spot around Hong Kong, and they have an opening in the middle that leaves everything below the paddler's waist covered.

They are also much faster and more streamlined, meaning they're better for longer expeditions through open water.

For having fun around the beach, "sit-on-top kayaks" are used. Clearly, given all the confusion with the sea kayaking situation, they didn't want to get too inventive with the name.

As the name suggests, these kayaks are for sitting on top of. Getting into the kayak itself is pretty straightforward, though Dan recommends sitting down first and swinging your legs in rather than trying to step in first, as this might rock the kayak.

Dragonfly instructor Dan offers Lucy kayaking tips and guidance

When it comes to paddling, the curved part of the oar should always be facing you. The easiest way to think of it is to imagine how you might move yourself if you were in the kayak without any oars. The way you would naturally try to paddle with your hands is similar to the way you should use the oars.

The biggest challenge I faced was getting stuck on some rocks lurking under the shallow water. Luckily, I was able to use the oars as launch poles to push away from them, so my crisis didn't last long.

While it might seem like kayaking is a lot of work for your arms, Dan pointed out that it should be mostly legs and core.

The small grooves in the kayak are for propping your feet against, and this leverage takes some of the strain away from your arms and means your legs can share the workload.

Even strong swimmers should wear buoyancy aids, but even if you can't swim, you can still go kayaking. Always make sure that your life vest is tightly fastened so that it will support you if you do end up in the water.

The best part about kayaking is being able to explore the untouched areas of Hong Kong. We ventured to an uninhabited island to rest and rehydrate.

While we were on the beach, some wild cows popped out to say hello, but we were careful not to get too close because, if you didn't know, cows kill more people than sharks.

So while it might be statistically more impressive, surviving a cow attack doesn't quite sound as impressive as surviving a shark attack.

In a city as crowded as Hong Kong, it's incredible to think that there are still some spots where you can be completely by yourself and embrace all that nature has to offer in peace.

That alone is definitely worth kayaking for.

Don't forget to check out the other stories from our Going Wild series!

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Row with the flow


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