The hardest part of having a devastating illness is not being able to do the things you love to do. While I’ve done many things throughout my life, hands down one of my favorite activities (and the one that I miss the most) is undoubtedly traveling by kayak.
Currently, just walking out to the mailbox and back is a major physical and mental ordeal for me, so reflecting on a lot of things I used to do doesn’t always bring much joy. Kayak touring, however, is different. For whatever reason, thinking about it keeps me going and inspires me to slog on with this exasperating health journey. What has fueled this even more, is during my first meeting with the medical director at the Emory Transplant Center, the doctor said that if I have the operation, kayaking will definitely be in my future.
So, while it may be a long way off, I’ve made kayaking the treasure at the end of the arduous quest ahead. I find myself going back to some of my favorite kayak trip YouTube videos and rewatching them often. Sometimes I just have them on as background noise, appreciating the ASMR value of the familiar sounds.
I thought it might be nice to share some of these favorite videos here. Many of my friends don’t know much about my personal kayaking adventures and unfortunately I don’t have any lengthy videos to share of my own of these trips. But the YouTube videos below definitely capture the essence, challenges, and joy of traveling by kayak, and are great introductions to the world of kayak touring.
Beyond all the above, there is another big reason I would recommend all the channels below: the hosts are highly skilled and safety conscious paddlers. As someone who worked in the paddling industry for many years, I get a bit frustrated with the many kayak camping videos on YouTube featuring dangerously overloaded kayaks that are not suited for the task at hand, and novice paddlers presenting themselves as experts, creating some very bad examples for someone new to paddling a loaded kayak and seeking good information. As well as being entertaining, all of the channels below are excellent educational resources for someone just getting into the sport of kayaking. Kayaking is great fun, but it’s important to be safe out there!
The River Kings
Pete Beck’s channel, The River Kings, highlights both whitewater kayaking and extended river kayak camping trips around the southeast U.S. Not only a great resource for learning about whitewater kayaking and kayak camping, but if you are planning a river kayak trip around the south, it’s likely there is a video about it on this channel. Best of all, the videos are just fun to watch. I chose the video below, Kayak Camping Trip – Ocmulgee River, Georgia, because it is a river very close to my home here in Athens, GA, but there are so many many more to choose from!
Ken Whiting of Paddle TV is an icon in many different realms of kayaking, including whitewater, sea kayaking, and kayak fishing. I met Ken back 2007 for the filming of the Recreational Kayaking: The Essential Skills and Safety DVD and was featured in the first Game On – Extreme Kayak Fishing DVD. The consummate kayaking educator, Ken’s channel features everything from paddling techniques, gear reviews, and longer kayaking destination features. My personal favorite of the content on the channel is just simply Ken taking off on a kayak adventure on his own (usually on his home turf, the Ottawa River). The videos really capture Ken’s lifelong joy of the sport. Cheers, Ken!
Beau Miles is far more than a sea kayaker. First and foremost, he is a fantastic filmmaker and I highly encourage you to check out his non kayaking videos. They are entertaining, enlightening, and filled with life’s little questions that lead to big answers. Of his sea kayaking videos, the six episode Bass by Kayak series is a must watch. Covering everything from putting together a sea kayak expedition to after the trip reflections, Beau shares all the joyous and challenging aspects of crossing Bass Strait, Australia to Tasmania, by sea kayak. Like all his films, it is filmed with humor, humanity, and Beau’s special brand of introspection.
Go Sea Kayak
Taran and Melissa of Go Sea Kayak are excellent filmmakers and their videos really capture the carefree, gypsy lifestyle of touring by sea kayak. Based in Sardinia, the waters they paddle are strikingly beautiful, so be prepared to make some space on your paddling bucket list. They only have two larger kayak expedition films, Corsica Sea Kayak Circumnavigation and Sea Kayak Expedition Around Sardinia, but they are truly worth watching and I really wish they had many many more.
Sea Kayak Life
Dan and Mark’s YouTube channel, Sea Kayak Life, has great production value and provides some great information and tips for those new to sea kayaking. Most of the videos they’ve posted are day paddles around the Georgia coast, but I’m hoping they go on an extended sea kayak trip soon. But if you are looking for some specific info on where to paddle around the coast of Georgia, there is some great information here.