Spring beckons boaters as season warms up

by • April 20, 2015 • trailmixComments (0)317

This time of year is when most folks are stowing away their skis and fat-tire bikes and dusting off the summer gear. And nothing says summer more than boating. Whether it’s kayaking, rafting, canoeing or sailing, the options seem endless in Alaska, where there are more bodies of water and more miles of coastline than just about anywhere else in the world.
To kick off the summer boating season, the Knik Canoers and Kayakers club is hosting a free Intro to Boating event, set for 6:30-8:45 p.m. April 28 at the BP Energy Center in Anchorage.
The program will cover all sorts of basics, including safety, necessary gear and suggestions for some great trips statewide. The group also offers boating classes each year, and they fill up early. You must attend the Intro meeting to sign up – there’s packrafting, ocean kayaking, river kayaking, lake canoeing and more.

Teenage boys kayak at Ekultna Lake, a convenient place to learn boating skills. Kevin G. Smith/AlaskaStock

Teenage boys kayak at Ekultna Lake, a convenient place to learn boating skills. Kevin G. Smith/AlaskaStock

For those new to kayaking, the Alaska Kayak School, which moved its operations to Kodiak in 2012, is offering classes throughout the spring and summer. If you happen to be on Alaska’s Emerald Isle, look them up at alaskakayakschool.com.
Closer to Southcentral is the Alaska Kayak Academy, which not only offers kayaking classes, but also specializes in classes in packrafting, sea kayak rescue and rolling. Pool classes are held through May. The Academy’s Kayak Center also rents boats as well. Contact them at www.kayakacademy.com or www.kayakcenterak.com.
Also gaining in popularity is Stand Up Paddleboarding – or SUP, as it’s now becoming known. Made famous in Hawaii and other such exotic and warm locations, it has found its way north. Alaskans aren’t bothered by a little cold water – or weather. Adventures 60 North in Seward offers SUP how-to clinics on Bear Lake and also guides two-day trips out of that location.
“Bear Lake is calm and there are salmon visible in the clear water in Bear Glacier,” said the company’s guide.
Closer to Anchorage, kayak and canoes are popular at Eklutna Lake, about 30 miles north of Anchorage. This pristine location is picture perfect on a calm day, and Lifetime Adventures, a local concessionaire with Alaska State Parks, rents kayaks and canoes and teaches $45, two-hour how-tos for beginner boaters. Their boats are on site, as well as safety gear and all the other necessities. Contact them at lifetimeadventures.net. They will be up and operating by May.
Finally, there is boating with mechanical help – or at least that of a sail. Out in Big Lake, sailing classes are offered throughout the summer.
The Alaska Sailing Club, which has been around for almost 50 years, maintains some 200 feet of dock space and a clubhouse on the lake. And it’s not a Topsider and blue-blazer affair, either – rather a true Alaska sport. Spring how-to classes begin in June, and membership in the club is required. Go to the club’s new website, www.alaskasailingclub.com, for more details and prices. The club also hosts its spring auction at 6 p.m. April 24. Contact club members for details on that event.
— Melissa DeVaughn

Want to learn how to boat?

Intro to Boating: 6:30-8:45 p.m., April 28, BP Energy Center, 900 E. Benson Blvd., Anchorage. Free and open to all; learn about safety, gear, trip options and more. Sponsored by Knik Canoers and Kayakers. (www.kck.org)

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