On Your Own vs. Guided Kayaking
If you have no personal sea-kayaking experience you should hire a guide or take a kayak course! There is no such thing as a beginner multi-day kayaking trip in Prince William Sound or anywhere else in Alaska. Novice and beginning paddlers should receive instruction in entry/exit techniques, paddling techniques, and group and self-rescues before heading out on their own. Developing an awareness of Alaskan sea conditions takes first-hand experience and makes a difference when determining if weather and conditions are changing, or whether or not it’s a safe time to make an open-water crossing.
Professional guides are certified in kayak skills and seamanship, safety and rescue, and wilderness first aid. Services include kayak-skills training, necessary gear and/or food, backcountry knowledge (camp and wildlife management), and area-specific information related to glacier safety, spotting wildlife, and other points of interest. Experienced kayakers may choose to hire a guide without other services (unsupported trip). Glacier ice is the primary reason people hire guides in Prince William Sound.
Sea-Kayaking classes are invaluable in establishing a baseline of practical skills and knowledge.
- One day courses provide an introduction to gear, instruction for entering/exiting kayak from shore, effective paddling techniques, and an introduction to assisted and unassisted rescues.
- Two day courses include additional skills training, mock rescue scenarios, information on area weather, tides, how to be safe around glaciers and glacier ice, radio protocols, where and how to launch, charts/maps, and other trip-planning information.