Kayarchy - the sea kayaker's online handbook and reference


Kayarchy is all about sea kayaking

Welcome to Kayarchy, the big free handbook of sea kayaking
NEW! Articles and reviews about kayaking and nature.

Graphic of sea kayak and chart

The kayak is far and away the best one-man boat in existence.” Fridtjof Nansen, polar explorer, Norwegian diplomat and Nobel prize-winner. He was talking about the classic Greenland kayak. The sit-on-top kayak is very popular too, because a total beginner can climb on and go paddling.

Classic sea kayak vs sit-on-top kayak

A sea kayak is :

  • fast. A classic sea kayak can easily go faster and further than a hiker on foot, fast enough to go against a current.
  • quick to get ready. Put it on your car, drive to a beautiful place, launch and go.
  • light. Just carry it down the beach, or hook it up in the roof of your garage, or even take it up in the elevator to a city-centre apartment.
  • slim. A sea kayak will take you through a reed bed, into a cave, up a narrow river, or between a tide race and the cliffs.
  • beautiful. More than one sculptor has kept a Greenland kayak for inspiration in the studio.
  • affordable. A good one can take thirty or forty years of hard use, and you can make a tough and lovely sea kayak for next to nothing.
  • it's great for wildlife. A sea kayak is low, fast and silent so you see nature up close. No flapping sails, squeaking oars or engine noise.
  • .... but most of all, a sea kayak is seaworthy. A trained sea kayaker in the right kayak can cope with waves, surf and wind from the Arctic to the tropics. When you're experienced, you can do things that would make a sailor or powerboater's jaw drop. Kayakers often like to go where there aren't any sailboats or powerboats.

About this site

Kayarchy is a free online handbook of sea kayaking. It's very big. As a large-format book it would be over 400 pages. To find your way around, scroll down the section summaries below, use the Index or browse the Full Contents. Before reading, please look at the disclaimer.

Kayarchy.com has been online since 2010. With permission, text and images from Kayarchy have been translated for use by non-profit organisations in French, Spanish, Icelandic and Chinese. Turkish and Finnish are next.

Contributions are always welcome. See About Kayarchy.

Kayarchy section summaries:


Sea kayaking overview
Compared with other sports

About Kayarchy
Get in touch
Metric measurements
Legal notice & privacy policy

Kayarchy icon  
Section 1 - Equipment:
Equipment checklists
The sea kayak
Other kayaks
Kayak accessories
The paddle
Clothing, personal buoyancy, tow-belt
Distress signals & rescue
Repair, storage & maintenance
Kayak bow  
Section 2 - Technique:
Paddling your sea kayak
Kayaking on fast-moving water
Kayaks & surf
Rolling your kayak
Rafting-up & towing
Deep-water rescue & self-rescue
Sea kayak navigation
Organising a day-trip
Overnight trips
Kayaking safely:
— Cold shock, swim failure & hypothermia
— Getting run over
— Hand/arm over-use syndromes

— Dislocated shoulder

— Rockfall & icefall

— Solo kayaking
Kayaker rolling  
Section 3 - The Sea & The Weather:
Predicting the weather
Professional weather forecasts
Maritime weathercock  
Section 4 - Access & Environment:

Protecting the environment
Codes of practice

European otter  
Section 5 - Activities:
Courses & vacations in North America
Courses & vacations elsewhere
Tours, treks, races & raids
Meetings & symposia
Maritime festivals
Kayakers waving  
Section 6 - Retail Outlets:

Sea kayaks to fit adults
Sea kayaks to fit children
Surf kayaks
Fast touring kayaks
Sea kayak kits and plans
Online marine supply stores (fittings, rope and paint)
Materials for SOF (skin-on-frame) boats

Gemma in kayak kit  
Section 7 - Links to Other Websites
Section 8 - Table of Contents and Index
Section 9 - NEW - articles about kayaking and nature




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