Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Complete Sea Kayaker's Handbook - Review

I've started my research into sea kayaking and discovered this wonderful book by Shelley Johnson - The Complete Sea Kayaker's Handbook.

As the book jacket states, it is a full-spectrum guide to boats, gear, strokes, sweeps, draws, rolls, exit and rescue techniques, navigation, rules of the road, surf, currents, wind and waves, fog, food, maintenance and repair, camping, and expeditions.

What I like about Johnson's book is her conversational style and approach to the sport of sea kayaking.

"This book takes much the same approach to the sport as my own over the years. We'll gather information, only to poke and prod it, and question its very right to exist. Each section will start with information that makes no assumption of past knowledge. It will nurture your interest in getting started and answer some of those questions in a straightforward manner."

She also has insight into how most of us will read it as a reference book and not as a novel.

"As you read through the book, feel comfortable to bail out when you have enough information for you needs at that moment. This is a book to come back to. As you mature as a paddler, the information you need will mature, and you'll find it all here."

I also found useful the sidebars offering questions to consider, contrary opinions, and other information that complimented the specific chapter subject.

For example; in Chapter 1: Getting Ready, Johnson has a sidebar with great questions for beginner sea kayakers to ask themselves such as: What will I use my boat for? Do I plan to go most often on day trips from home or on longer, over-night excursions? Where will I do most of my paddling?

The book covers the basics and advanced information in a readable and practical guide. Her explanations and information are presented in a digestible style and format. It does not read like a text book, but more as a friend; who is passionate about sea kayaking, wanting to share with other like-minded folks. All in a short 281 pages! Johnson also includes an extensive 15-page resources section that covers books, magazines, videos, paddling clubs, organizations, associations, and paddling events.

It is an engaging read and gets a two-thumbs up from this kayaker! :-)

One final quote from Johnson on the nature of sea kayaking:

"Sea kayaking is a sport that engages both mind and body. It offers the simple pleasures of gliding peacefully through a quiet cove and the complex demands of responding to the interactions between hull and sea. It's an activity that rewards the miles of rhythmic, repetitious movement with sudden and unexpected delights, then confronts you with the intellectual exercise of navigating in fog. You'll never tire of this sport."

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