Learning to kayak is a little like unlocking the door to another world. At least that’s how some kayakers see it. Rosemary Giangiulio (featured in Part 1) recalls her encounter in the Sea of Cortez. (Mexico). As she was paddling to an offshore island, her path crossed with two Orca Whales swimming within 100 yards of her. Another excursion in Alaska was also memorable for her thanks to spectacular views of the glaciers and sparkling surrounding the water.
Matt Carter, Milton native and owner of Quest Adventures, recommends renting before buying, “Test the waters”, he said, slightly tongue in cheek, “especially if you only plan to go a handful of times”. According to Carter, single recreational kayaks average between $400-600 and doubles run between $700-1,000. The decision to rent or buy really comes down to how often one plans to kayak, he noted.
Quest has several full-service locations for renting including three in Lewes plus several self-serve “outpost locations”. All locations are listed on the Quest web site. In many cases, the Quest team will deliver kayaks and paddleboards to a specific location, and then pick them up after an allotted time slot, saving those without equipment or racks the hassle of trying to transport the vessels.
Milton/s popular Broadkill River location is self-serve, meaning the products are stored in an encasement on the spot. Customers are given a code to unlock a rental item. It costs $30 to rent a single kayak for two hours. Costs are incrementally higher for increased time frames.
Quest also organizes guided sunset, moonlight, dolphin, and specialty tours to popular spots in the region.
Those who decide that buying is the way to go might consider the well- stocked Delaware Paddlesports on Coastal Highway. A recent inventory check indicated that the shop had more than 700 kayaks in stock at various price points. Models include sit-on-tops, sit-ins, recreational, touring, inflatable and pedaling kayaks.
The American Kayaking Association (AKA) and Paddling magazine offer a wealth of information on each model including the pros and cons of each. Giangiulio favors sit-on-tops for beginners and novices because they are the most user friendly.
The AKA says that they are stable, easy to get in and out of and there is no feeling of confinement. They are also self-bailing, which means they have small holes (called “scupper holes”) that allow the water to drain right through them.
A healthy percentage of Delaware Paddlesports customers are retirees, according to Billy Harkens, shop manager. “Some are just getting started and others are those who retired, relocated to Coastal Delaware and want to continue with their passion for paddling,” he said.
Delaware Paddlesports offers group social kayaking outings on Tuesday evenings starting at 6 pm. Recently, about 15 people of various ages attended the first summer outing on the Broadkill River in Milton but locations vary. Excursions take about 1.5 hours out and back. They are free for those who own kayaks and $40 for renters. Kayaks are brought to the put-in point by the shop.
“Kayaking is a life-long sport”, said Carter who also concurred that many of his customers are seniors or retirees.
Giangiulio and Terri Colloton (see Part 1), both Paynter’s Mill residents, can attest to that since these young-at-heart retirees have spent much of their adult lives enjoying the sport and marveling in the adventures it brings.
More paddling information is available at Southern Delaware Tourism.
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Ophrah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.