Monday, December 5, 2016

Last-minute holiday gift ideas for the kayaker

Holidays are a great time to kick back with a good book

Someone on your holiday gift list is a fanatical paddler…

 …and you haven't been able to figure out what to get for them. One of those $400 carbon fiber paddles would be nice, but they’re so hard to wrap, plus you had no idea they come in different lengths and blade styles. So consider something that's easy to order at the last minute and very practical, not to mention a lot less expensive – a kayak book.

In my opinion, there are two books that any Northern California kayaker should have on hand, for entirely different reasons – one a "where-to-how-to" and the other a "how-not-to". There’s a third text with few words and no narrative but it could help your fave paddler on big water. Here goes:   

Wonderfully reliable source of info 
The second edition of “Paddling Northern California” by Charlie Pike (Falcon Guides) is a 325-page guide that includes maps, photos and precise distances and directions to some of the best paddling water from sea to Sierra. It's a wonderfully reliable source of info. Several years ago, I paddled a stretch of the Delta with Charlie as he was researching this latest edition, and his maps and calculations were spot on. If your kayaker doesn’t have this guide, buy it. It’s easy to gift wrap, too.

My second choice is an entirely different type of book, recommended for its not-so-subtle message: Please avoid doing something stupid on the water, because it might kill you.
Sea Kayaker Magazine’s “Deep Trouble” two-book series makes this point quite deftly. I liked the second book better (“More Deep Trouble”) because it seemed to offer a bit more variety in the way of fatal and near-fatal real-life incidents.

No nagging needed, just add water
The 29 stories collected from the magazine range from the heroic to the horrifying. Each includes a post-mortem, so to speak, that analyzes what went wrong and how it could have been prevented. The beauty of this book is that it eliminates the need to nag and fret if you have a kayaker in your life. Simply present them with this gift, and if they fail to heed its lessons, then natural selection may eventually kick in and your conscience will be clear.

My third choice is optional for the casual, flat-water paddler but quite useful for coastal kayaking.  “Tidelog NorthernCalifornia” (Pacific Publishers) is an annual compilation of tide and current conditions. 
Not much of a story line, but useful

The Tidelog publisher offers specific editions for both Atlantic and Pacific, and zones within them. Not much of a casual read, but it will come in handy if your 2017 schedule includes more than just a dash of saltwater. Tip: Keep a pair of reading glasses handy, there’s lots of small print.

The "Tidelog" costs about $20, including shipping, and the other two books are available for $20 or less online or at your local kayak shop. Happy Holidays, and here's to more adventures on the water in 2017.