Rockport is a mecca for inshore and offshore kayaking. The local bays are loaded with fish, wildlife and fun is waiting for experienced paddlers. Exploring by boat opens a ton of ground and makes it possible to really get away and enjoy the best natural places in the region. The kayak is an excellent tool for bird watchers, anglers and just for paddling and exploring. Before jumping into a boat however, learning techniques and safety procedures is important. It will ensure you can spend more time exploring with less worries. Basic safety skills, paddling skills and knowledge of the local bays is important. Plenty of local resources are available and learning the area is an exciting way to spend your time here.
Safety Equipment and Practice Sessions
Practicing and carrying the appropriate safety equipment is critical. Start with a great life jacket and build a lightweight first aid kit to carry in a waterproof bag. Include gauze, tape, disinfectant, antibiotic ointment, aspirin and any relevant prescriptions. Another important safety consideration is an emergency GPS system like a Garmin. The option to mark locations and to send for a rescue if needed delivers some serious peace of mind.
After getting the safety gear in order, jump to the practice phase before attempting long paddles through more remote sections of the bay. You can practice solo but working with another person, especially someone experienced, is very helpful. Practice involves working on different paddle stroke techniques to move forward or turn the boat. A vertical stroke pushes forward while a sweep stroke turns the craft. Spending time in easy waters, near the shore will help build confidence as you improve and become comfortable with the craft. Lastly, learning how to rescue yourself by uprighting the kayak and getting from a swimming position to a safe, seated position after an accident is important.
Understanding the Tides
Kayaking around Rockport requires knowledge of the tides. Paddling in the general, open water zones is possible at any time but exploring the backwaters and channels is all tide dependent. The high tides open more water to explore and the low tide draws that water back, making many places difficult or impossible to navigate. Tide charts are readily available through numerous websites and the local boat and tackle shops often carry tide charts as well. Know the times and focus on exploring backwaters during high tide.
Beyond tides, watching the weather reports is also important. The weather can change quickly and knowing what to expect will help determine if you should have a long day of adventure or a shorter paddle during the prime weather hours. Wind is especially difficult and can make paddling a chore. Aransas Bay however is known for being a tranquil area where calm waters often prevail.
Start with a Lesson or Tour
Several companies operate kayak tours in the general Rockport-Fulton region. Taking a tour or scheduling individual instruction is a great entry to the sport. It also gives you the opportunity to test different kayak models. RV travelers can easily mount a hardshell kayak to their roof using a variety of common mounting racks and systems. Inflatable kayaks are also worth considering as they take up very little space and can stow away in your RV or camper. Couples may even consider investing in a tandem model to enjoy paddling together.
Rentals and tours are available through Miss Kitty’s Fishing Getaways, Coastal Bend Kayak, Slowride Guides, Viking Kayak and Rockport Birding and Kayak Adventures. Take advantage of their expertise and even work with them when purchasing a kayak as well. They will know what brands, sizes and models are ideal and can also help you understand the best paddle length and style. Learning from the folks who spend everyday on the water is a best case scenario.
Learn the Access Points
Access to Aransas Bay is excellent and learning the different points where launching a kayak is feasible will quickly expand your range. The Highway 188 Bridge, Port Bay Road, Airport Road and Little Bay South are all good options. You can always launch at a marina or public boat ramp as well. One major advantage of kayaking however is the ability to launch where bigger motorized vessels cannot reach the water. To the same effect, a kayak can often reach shallow backwaters where these motorized boats are also off-limits. Take advantage of this fact as your skill level increases and find those quiet corners of the bay where peace and solitude are common.